Football, Fandom, and (a lack of) Feminism

By Monica Chin and Annie Kaufman

Super Bowl Sunday, which attracts an estimated 110 million viewers, is one of the most significant days for advertisers nationwide. This means the biggest companies, flashiest advertisements, and most hype. Fueling the conversation about representation of women in these ads, The Representation Project started the #NotBuyingIt trend on Twitter during Super Bowl 2012. The goal was to critique the depiction of women in these multi-million dollar campaigns. This year, The Representation Project came back swinging with their #NotBuyingIt app, which allows users to document sexist portrayals of women in advertising and send direct messages to companies protesting this destructive imagery. The hashtag was used more than 15,000 times during the Super Bowl, attesting both to the widespread use of sexism in advertising and the frustration of viewers across the country. Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 2.47.14 PMWhile such activism advances the fight against sexist advertising, sexism is still rampant and widespread, especially during the Super Bowl. Some companies toned down their blatant sexism this year, but they still rely on shock and insensitivity. GoDaddy avoided the striptease scene, instead choosing to objectify hairless and heavyset men while showcasing its spokesperson, Danica Patrick, in a fake weightlifter body. After Volkswagen implied that female engineers essentially don’t exist, there seemed to be little hope for feminism in this year’s crop of Super Bowl advertisements. Thankfully, one glimmer of hope for feminist advertising remained in the GoldieBlox toy company ad, which encourages young girls to get involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). While their ad attempts to inspire girls to be more than just princesses, some still critique it for telling girls what and what not to do/play with. The other sad truth is that the GoldieBlox ad is the first ever advertisement by a small business in the Super Bowl, a spot obtained through a contest put on by Intuit to support small businesses. The reality is that big media attention is out of reach for most. Out of a plethora of advertisements showcased this Sunday, the only one that was arguably feminist was produced by a small business, not one of the monopolizing companies that rule the media. While this year’s Super Bowl and responses to it created some hope for progress, representation of women in media has a long way to go.Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 2.49.29 PM


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