What's Wrong With Being Sexy: Just How Sexist Are These Super Bowl Ads?

On Sunday, while my boyfriend was paying attention to the Super Bowl, I was paying attention to my Twitter stream's reaction to the Super Bowl, which was filled with feminists utilizing the #notbuyingit hashtag to call out sexism in advertising.

Feb 7, 2012 at 5:00pm | Leave a comment

Yes, I love that bit from "This Is Spinal Tap" where Nigel gets confused between "sexy" and "sexist," because really, sometimes it is a thin line!

On Sunday, while my boyfriend was paying attention to the Super Bowl, I was paying attention to my Twitter stream's reaction to the Super Bowl, which in between comments about how OLD and VEINY Madonna is (which is another article about ageism and sexism that I hope someone will write), was filled with feminists utilizing the #notbuyingit hashtag to call out sexism in advertising.

Which seems like a great idea! Except that as the game went on, the tweets popping up in my stream seemed to be increasingly ... uh... stretched? Like the one that was angry that the Budweiser Prohibition Ads didn't show enough women and people of color, for instance.



Honestly, in the harpy wives and busty babes canon of traditional beer commercials, I found the this one to be pretty toothless. During the second Budweister spot, I wondered what anyone could possibly find to be offended about. A few seconds later, I got my answer. Of course! The split-second footage of a woman dancing in a cage.



But the ad that really pissed people off was the Teleflora ad, which I saw hashtagged with #rapeculture, and the question,"Hey, : if you give her flowers and she says no to sex, are you still entitled to it?"

The ad in question showed a scantily clad Adriana Lima whispering, "Guys, Valentine's Day's not that complicated. Give and you shall receive." It pissed people off by suggesting that a guy giving flowers for Valentine's Day would be rewarded with sex.

OK, I guess. But I'm kind of into calling things rape when they're, you know, rape. And while I understand the trajectory from one idea to the other, suggesting that your girlfriend will sleep with you if you buy her a nice box of chocolates is not the same as suggesting that you will force her to sleep with you whether she wants to or not. Give and you shall receive is not the same as "give and if you don't receive you'll probably rape somebody."



And I actually found that slow pan over David Beckham's Greek-like abs much more objectifying than Teleflora showing a rich, powerful supermodel with a beautiful body. At least she got to talk!



BTW, I'd hit it. If he gained 50 pounds. Most #notbuyingit participants did note the objectification of Beck's male figure, but in my general stream I saw a lot of "GoDaddy is a horrible sexist company!" followed 10 minutes later by "Mmmmm, Beckham."

I saw this commercial described as "excusing street harassment," and of course the old women-as-cars trope didn't go over so well.



And John Stamos for Dannon yogurt? Encouraging domestic violence.



I certainly don't want to celebrate insensitivity, but I couldn't help but wonder (TM Bradshaw) if by looking so hard for sexism, some people didn't ... overshoot the mark a little bit? Don't get mad! But none of these commercials actually bothered me! I will gladly defer if people more smarter than me felt offended.

Please give me your two cents on these commercials, and also the MOST SEXIST SUPERBOWL FACT OF ALL -- that there wasn't a single woman on either team! Not one!