Is Sexism the Norm in Football?

Another year, another Super Bowl game, another round of obnoxiously sexist advertisements. If the NFL’s most notoriously watched game has taught us anything, it is that women have no place in football. That is unless they are half naked models.  So, what is this about? Why do we allow advertisements to objectify women then way they do?

At the 2013 Super Bowl, it is proven that nearly 50 percent of the people who watch the Super Bowl are women and girls, according to The Representation Project. This project, helped popularize the #NotBuyingIt hashtag on Twitter in response to sexist commercials during 2013’s game. Since that Super Bowl, this hashtag has trended at every Super Bowl since. It even expanded past being just about sexism and now can relate to other factors such as fat-shaming, slut-shaming,  LGBT acceptance and ableism. People from all over the country start hashtagging #NotBuyingIt in protest to the obscene commercials of all types and have been able to reach people who normally would not have been reached. Another hashtag #MediaWeLike emerged so people could talk about acceptable media that they saw, even if it was few and far between. Tying this back in with feminism and negative stigmas towards women, ironically enough, women viewers are the fastest growing populations for the NFL. Female viewership has increased by 26% just this year alone. Isn’t it about time that they realize they need to stop insulting a huge portion of their viewership?

The #NotBuyingIt and the #MediaWeLike were both very popular hashtags this past Sunday night generating over 20,000 tweets over the three-hour span of the Super Bowl. While most tweets were rants about how disappointed viewers were, some were much more vocal about their distaste.

WTF, WEIGHT WATCHERS? SEXISM. FATPHOBIA. OBJECTIFICATION. AWFUL. I legit thought that was a Carl’s Jr. commercial. BE ASHAMED. #NotBuyingIt -@ryeisenberg

Wow, @Doritos. If that’s how you feel about women, I’m #NotBuyingIt. Just horrible.” -@scottbryant_

In addition to this, there were some women empowering advertisements. These were limited, but they did exist and people were very vocal about them as well. Both men and women rallied together in support of these advertisements.

The #likeagirl ad was terrific.  #SB49” -@SeamusORegan

I WISH I could say every Super Bowl commercial was empowering for woman. Let’s make progress! @msfoundation #femSuperBowl #MediaWeLike -@betsykrocker

It seems that one of the most popular pro-women ads was the #LikeAGirl ad put out by Always. This ad showed both men and women of all ages being asked “How do you run like a girl?”  The younger girls began to run regularly while everyone else would run in an exaggerated way. Another crowd favorite was the Toyota Camry commercial that had a father raising his daughter. This commercial took the family through all of the good and bad times and in the end it showed the daughter being dropped off at the airport to join the Army. Not only was this a masterpiece of an advertisement for younger women in general, but it also touched on another highly talked about subject: women in the armed forces.

Unfortunately, for every positive commercial, there was a negative one. These commercials came from companies such as Weight Watchers, Doritos, Carls jr., Victoria’s Secret, and many many more.

No matter what your personal belief is, the advertisements at the Super Bowl have been known to be inherently sexist. As times change, and more people are becoming aware of outwardly sexist ads, we have to wonder, are things getting better? What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Is Sexism the Norm in Football?

  1. I am so glad you wrote about this. While some people may make the claim that advertisements are just advertisements, and that is their sole purpose, advertisements have a much deeper meaning that that. What people often don’t admit is that media serves a vital role in shaping our thoughts and behaviors.

    While of course there were many sexist advertisements (due to the culture in which we live), I think advertising agencies took a step up this year. I have read some articles claiming that “feminism won the Super Bowl this year” and that this was the second feminist Super Bowl (with the first being in 2014). I think it’s a huge step up that these positive advertisements were shown to such a huge audience. While we saw a mix of both #MediaWeLIke and #NotBuyingIt, it is great that we are seeing a rise in #MediaWeLike! It’s one step in the right direction towards change.


    1. I agree with you! I believe advertisement agencies did definitely take a positive step forward is neutralizing the advertisements. I just hope that one day we can eradicate all anti-feminist commercials from the Super Bowl!


  2. Loved this article! Advertisements definitely have a bigger impact on us than we may realize, so I think its really important to examine what we’re are exposed to, especially during such a hugely televised event like the Super Bowl! Like you, I was impressed by a few of the more progressive ads like Always and the anti-domestic violence commercial by NoMore. Still, other ads like Doritos made me take a step back and realize that there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of how companies market products and who they are targeting. But I was happy to see those other ads nonetheless!!


  3. Awesome post! I love that you included a mix of sexist and girl power ads (I touch on some specifics about girl power ads in my post this week). I also love how we can interact and react to the ads we see. The concept of hashtags is such an amazing step forward, and hopefully companies see it and adjust their advertisements!


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