So this year’s round of Super Bowl advertising was not NEARLY as bad as in years past (the absolute low point was 2010, when we collectively blew our feminist gaskets over the super-abundance of misogynist advertising). Sure, there was a dumbass Teleflora ad starring model Adriana Lima, who seductively purrs:”Guys, Valentine’s Day’s not that complicated: give and you’ll receive.” Yep, straight from the “sex is a transaction” playbook—chauvinist, stupid and insulting to both men and women.
But the real eye-opener was H&M’s underwear ad with David Beckham, who used to play the other type of football but these days hawks $14 tighty-whities by letting the camera play lasciviously over his incredibly toned, tattooed body:
HOT DAMN. Yes, I realize it’s possibly the most objectifying TV ad in history, and while I generally dislike objectification of all kinds, I confess that I could not tear my eyes away from the screen. Neither could any of the women I was with. One of my male friends reported via Twitter that the sports bar he was at practically erupted in hoots and cheers from the ladies present. Another friend, watching from a gay bar in DC, reported a similarly rapturous response.
If this were a women’s underwear-clad body, would I have hated it? Yes, probably. However, having already seen a gazillion such ads in my lifetime—and hated them—I found it hard to get too worked up about this one, which is, frankly, the first of its kind that I can remember. Clearly, advertisers have figured out what pollsters already know: 64% of women in America watch the Super Bowl (compared with 68% of men). After forcing women to sit through a lot of sexist ads, Big Advertising finally decided to run one they thought would please the ladies, even though its m.o. was the same objectification that Big Advertising has been using for decades to please men.