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Sex and the Super Bowl? Not Buying it.

GoDaddy ad that aired during the 2012 Super Bowl.

As part of a major television event, Super Bowl commercials are the signature addition that amplify the cultural phenomena surrounding the game. Each year, they become more noticeably bizarre and theatrically outrageous in order to surpass the prior expectations of the audience. Americans typically view these ads as a form of bonus entertainment to the already massive spectacle, however this year’s audience appeared more fed up than usual due to the increased propagation of sex stereotypes. They took their criticism to the internet, where they voiced their oppositions under a new campaign formed by media reform alliance Miss Representation. The hash tag, #NotBuyingIt, was tagged in Twitter feeds across the country, creating awareness to the negative impact these types of imageries inflict on women.

According to the group’s website, women represent nearly half of the Super Bowl’s audience and are also more likely to watch and respond to the commercials than men. Despite this, advertisers frequently objectify women during the game, effectively ignoring a sizable proportion of female viewership. From the usual GoDaddy spot, explicitly selling domain names under a sexual prose, to a Mars candy commercial that suggested a naked female M&M, it was obvious that this year’s advertisements attacked women more viciously than ever before. Fortunately, challenging sexual discrepancies in advertising has become easier in recent times, thanks to social media allocating a channel to that voice.

Shelby Knox, an active participant in the feminist movement, helped to encourage young women and even men to notice the disparity and take action to respond. “After you tweet about an offensive ad, start a petition asking the company to not air it again,” she said in a Change.org article. “If enough voices object… the makers will get the message that it’s not welcome.” As noted by a Mother Jones article, users of the #NotBuyingIt hash tag seemed to generally agree that the flower delivery company Teleflora delivered one of the most offensive advertisements of the game. It involved an attractive woman directly addressing a male audience, suggesting that they would have to “give” flowers in order to “receive” sex. According to the report, one #NotBuyingIt advocate stated, “Teleflora, I’m not for sale,” and another said that the “ad just sent women’s issues back 100 yrs.”

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