Its been a few weeks since the Superbowl, and I’m late to the party in talking about this, but what I have to say goes beyond a group of men getting paid ridiculous amounts of money to play a game. I’m not a Patriots or Seahawks fan. I’m not going to question Pete Carroll’s decision to throw on 2nd and goal from the 1 yard line with one of the best running backs in the league and the best quarterback at executing a read option. Hey, he’s been a coach for 30 years and gets paid $7 million a year, he must know something.
No, I’ve been thinking about the twelve minutes at halftime and the commercial that immediately followed.
Firstly, the half time show. What I witnessed was a young lady being sold. I saw a puppet of a male dominated, misogynistic, entertainment industry on display. Sure, they got her to ride on top of a mechanical tiger and portray a woman of power, a woman in control. But then again, that’s what they’d like you to think. They also had her dressed like wonder woman so that they could relive boyhood fantasies of being powerless to her golden lasso and forced to tell the truth. Guess what? There was no truth involved. The truth is, there was a young lady who has a fair amount of talent being sold to the highest bidder.
One of the bidders that night was Procter & Gamble, the parent company that owns Always brand feminine hygiene products. P&G paid at least $8 million for a one minute ad spot. The commercial was a condensed version of a 3 minute video that went viral last summer. The #LikeAGirl spot takes issue with generations of playground taunts about people running, throwing or fighting “like a girl.” It asks: “When did doing something ‘like a girl’ become an insult?”
Rather than showing true women athletes running, throwing and fighting, it showed the young girls, awkwardly running on the spot (something no one looks powerful doing), throwing an imaginary ball (again, awkward) and throwing wild punches into the air (very little control and no intended target). Rather than showing women’s 200m world record holder Florence Griffith Joyner running to gold in Seoul in 1988 or heptathlon world record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee running, jumping and throwing her way to gold in Seoul in 1988 or Laila Ali, who had a professional record of 24-0-0, throwing real punches.These women were elite athletes, truly respected in their individual sports (oh they’re all African-American as well, but I’m not getting into race issues, or how the media continues to portray blonde haired, blue-eyed, white women as the epitome of beauty in this post).
What I witnessed was a media campaign, designed around emotion to get you to rethink the term “Like A Girl.” Well, for the most part it just reconfirmed the fact that young girls running, throwing and punching look like young girls running, throwing and punching. The other point of the ad spot was to discuss how a girl’s self esteem drops during puberty. My solution to this…be present in their lives and encourage them in everything they do. A solution to a young girl’s self esteem probably won’t be helped by an ad for feminine hygiene products, but it will be helped by a father who is present in their lives and encourages them in achieving whatever goal it is they have set for themselves.
I’m okay with my daughters running, throwing and punching like girls, because, well, they are. I’m also okay with my daughters dancing like girls. It would look funny if they danced like boys, even if that boy was Mikhail Baryshnikov.