Friday, February 5, 2010

The Tebow Ad: Ruining Fun on the Super Bowlz

Although I have not written about it, I have been following some of the controversy surrounding Focus on the [Hetero Patriarchal] Family's Tim Tebow anti-abortion ad that is set to air during this weekend's Super Bowl. For some brief background, Tebow is a football star whose mother Pam was advised, for health reasons, to have an abortion while pregnant with him. Obviously, she didn't. She gave birth to Tim, who grew up to be a famous football player.

Of all the days of the year, that this ad will be aired on Super Bowl Sunday is perhaps most apt. For, it is on Super Bowl Sunday where the role of women, moreso than most days in America, is emphatically that of object. This day is a national holiday that is centered around men, their desires, and the glorification of exaggerated masculinity. Through television sets, we sit in our living rooms viewing the world as how heterosexual men must see the world. Or, as how television networks and advertisers believe heterosexual men see the world.

While it is true that women are featured on this day, we are marginal bodies, orbiting around The Big Game. As cheerleaders and entertainers, we are sideshow features who reinforce the idea that women are primarily for sexual enjoyment and titillation whereas men are doing the Important Stuff around which the holiday is centered. In the Super Bowl's famous advertisements, as Jaclyn Friedman observes, we learn that women are either "sexually available and easily manipulated hotties" or "unlovable shrews who make men miserable."

From these observations, we further learn that heterosexual males are man-boys who are obsessed with sex and always trying to Get Away With Having Fun In Spite Of Their Mommy-Wives.

Thusly, are women and men reduced to exaggerated caricatures of femininity and its "opposite," masculinity. Whereas men are actors in the world, women are acted-upon, by men. And whenever exaggerated femininity meets exaggerated masculinity, it is femininity- and females- that are suppressed and pseudo-subsumed into the category of "man." So, on this dudeliest of all days, the point of view- commercials, gameplay, and sporty narratives- are profoundly and distinctly male. And from this point of view, as Friedman continues:

"Enter the Focus on the Family ad, thirty seconds of squeaky-clean 'family values' that make the astonishing claim that women shouldn't have abortions because they might be gestating a future male sports star....But what makes it such a perfect fit for the Super Bowl is its blatant cynicism about the role of women when it comes to the big game. It's not enough that we be always available, conventionally beautiful sex-objects.... alongside available hottie and repulsive shrew, we apparently can now be hero-incubators."

In conjunction with the Super Bowl's regular array of ads, from the Focus on the Family ad we learn that dangerous combo of two Self-Evident Patriarchal Truths: One, it is the role of women to be sexually available to men. And two, if women become pregnant as a result of being sexually available to men, they have a duty to carry that pregnancy to term.

These two "truths" work together to form a dangerous message that alienates half of humanity from full personhood.

It says the lives of women, in and of themselves, don't matter. Unlike men, who get to be The Superstars, women are a mere means to the greater end of producing future male superstars.

But, when you think about it, there is perhaps no more appropriate message, on this day of Hail Mary passes, for a Christian Nation.

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