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Want to hear something funny? When I sat down to watch the game on Sunday I thought, maybe this year the ads won’t be so bad for women. Maybe this year will mark a sea change.

[insert hysterical laughter here]

I’ve said plenty already about the Super Bowl’s sexual culture in general, and about the Focus on the Family/Tim Tebow ad in specific, so I won’t be ranting about either here (though I have to say: WTF? Tim Tebow tackles his mom? That’s… somehow funny?)  Instead, let’s take a look at what last night’s ads taught us:

Megan Fox is so hot it’s a public health hazard.

Seriously. Her much-hyped Motorola ad is a retread of every tired trope about unchecked female sexuality. It will cause destruction and injury! Even gay men can’t resist it! Men are helpless to do anything to control themselves in the face of it. If she doesn’t keep it under wraps people will get hurt!

A hot babe is almost as awesome as a cold beer.

Sometimes, possibly awesomer! In these ads, we learn that women are valuable because they’re reward-objects for men (or in a few cases, boys, your children’s toys, and what I think was a violin-playing beaver), much like beer and chips and really good tires are.

Women who expect men to act like adults turn men into… women.

Did you know that shopping with your girlfriend makes you a spineless girl? So does not caring about football as much as your relationship. And liking the smell of lavender. Also? Cleaning the sink after you shave, eating fruit, separating recycling, and respecting your partner’s opinion. Good thing there are manly cars to rescue men from all of that hideous girliness!

Women exist as extras in men’s narratives, or else not at all.

Seriously. Not one ad that used a voiceover artist featured a female voice. Not one. As for who was actually pictured on screen, there were plenty of ads that exclusively or primarily featured dudes, but the only two advertisers to feature all-female ads were Southwest Airlines (more on their awesomeness later) and GoDaddy. And let’s be real – whether or not there are any dudes on the screen, the main character in any GoDaddy ad is the male viewer:


Team NoPants now includes men.

Come on. As if jeggings weren’t a bad enough crime against fashion, two ads in a row inexplicably featured men wandering around in public their underwear – and neither of them were underwear ads (though one of them was the latest installment in the insanely sexist "Wear The Pants" campaign Dockers has cooked up to butch up their chinos). Look, Lady Gaga can rock it. But Lady Gaga can rock a poncho made out of Kermit The Frog dolls. Have you duetted at the Grammys with Sir Elton John? No? Then put your damn pants on, mmkay?

(The Elton duet starts at 2:58. No, it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl, but we needed something awesome right about now, didn’t we?)

Women Are People, Too

Continuing the awesome, a precious few ads managed (*gasp!*) to portray women as complete human beings with lives of their own, not defined by the degree to which they arouse or annoy men. It’s shocking, so be sure you’re sitting down while watching.

Of course, somehow my very favorite ad of the night, I can’t find any video of. How is that possible? So let me just say that Southwest Airlines deserves your business. Want to know why? Because their ad’s protagonist was not just a woman. She was a businesswoman! With what seemed like a hard job! That she was really good at and dedicated to! How this made it onto the Super Bowl, I’ll never know. Huge points to whomever can find video of it.

There are women working for the U.S. Census! Some of them say smart things! One of them is in charge!

This CareerBuilder.com ad features real-looking women in their underwear, alongside the underpantsed male colleagues. And it doesn’t even treat them as sex objects!


Honorable Mention: Ads that prove you can be entertaining without being offensive

These ads didn’t do anything much for women, but they didn’t rely on misogynist jokes to bring the funny (or the awwwws, as the case may be):

Bonus points to Google for telling a love story without even being heteronormative!

This Simpsons ad is so awesome it makes me wish I drank soda.

Stevie Wonder + Tracy Morgan = comedy GOLD, people!

So, Amplifyers – what did you think of the ads last night? Rants and raves in the comments, please!