Feminism, Pop-Culture | Posted by Julie Z on 02/2/2010

The Super Bowl and Abortion

2010 Super Bowl

2010 Super Bowl

This year I, like nearly 100 million other Americans, will watch the super bowl. However, this fact has very little to do with the game of football. I have no idea what occurs in this game, and if you asked me to name more than 3 football games I’d probably just walk away. The few times I’ve gone to see my high school team play I’ve left even more confused than before. No, I watch the super bowl for the ads.

Let’s be honest, the ads are awesome. About 99% of the time I watch T.V. ads make me want to bang my  head against a cement block repeatedly (a lethal combination of sexist and stupid), Super Bowl ads are different. First of all, they’re well put together because…well they have to be for that  much money and that big an audience. And if they’re not “good” they at least bring people together – as does the sporting event as a whole.

Remember the Magic Fridge?

Now, the merits of this commercial are certainly debatable, sure. But I remember kids at school were talking about it for days afterwards. Not in the “yay alcohol” way but in the “haha that was funny” way…just to be clear.

But not this year. This year the topic of Super Bowl Ads is tearing people right down the middle…right along the lines us feminists know very well. Yep. Pro-life  versus pro-choice will rear its adorable little head in an unusual place: an audience of predominately drunk men.

Christian group Focus on the Family has paid about $2.5 million to run an ad focusing on football player Tim Tebow and the fact that his mother was told to have an abortion, didn’t, then gave birth to one of the greatest college football players ever.

While I do think it’s unfair to completely condemn this commercial before having ever seen it, I did check out Focus on the Family’s website. They advocate complete abstinence outside of marriage, with this winner of a paragraph included: Looking at the history of teen birth rates, it can appear that rates have lowered significantly and that there’s less reason to educate our youth about sexuality. The rates have in fact decreased, but the higher historical numbers represent married teens. And, married teens tend to face less life-long negative consequences of teenage births than unmarried teens.

Thats Tim Tebow. With the bible verses under his eyes.

Yep, that's Tim Tebow. With the bible verses under his eyes.

No. We need sex education. We need it. And I’m sorry, what are these life-long negative consequences that teens are facing by marrying their high school sweethearts because of an accident? Not that I’m saying that never works, but honestly, why does that make everything better?

Although, at the same time, they do have what I will term “not-negative” articles on homosexuality and transgenderism.

So, yeah, I don’t want to completely judge the organization Focus on the Family or the commercial (especially since I haven’t seen it yet) but honestly, the fact that CBS is willing to run a commercial that is taking any type of definitive stance on a controversial issue is just not okay in my book. Honestly, I don’t think the Super Bowl is the right place to address this issue, even if Focus on the Family spokesperson, Gary Schneeberger, believes that, “there is nothing political or controversial about the spot” and that it’s just about “family values.”

Whether or not the ad uses the words “abortion” or “pro-life” doesn’t mean America will look at what they’re seeing as unbiased. The message here seems to be “abortion is a mistake.” The only mistake is not viewing this as an issue of choice. Tim Tebow’s mother had a choice: she chose not to have an abortion. That we’re incapable of viewing this situation as a choice is the real problem.

Can’t we just leave the Super Bowl as one of the very few times our country comes together? We lose this and we’re left with very few times that that actually happens.

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  • Steph @ at 3:29 pm, February 2nd, 2010

    Great piece. However, you said that “Although, at the same time, they do have what I will term “not-negative” articles on homosexuality and transgenderism.” FotF being friendly with the queers? Sorry, but no. They HATE queer people. To be fair, though, the first few paragraphs of each are very innocuous. But it’s the later bits that suck, big time.
    On the trans one, they claim that trans people “undermine God”, refuse to acknowledge trans people as the gender they identify with, repeatedly referring to trans women as “men dressed up as women”.
    Then they get into the old garbage about hate-crime legislation really being a way to persecute Christians (waah I can’t discriminate against these people as openly anymore life is SO HARD FOR ME). Then they say that there are no trans or gay people in the Bible, and that any attempts to prove so are “revisionist theory”, even though that’s definitely not the case.
    Also, I think the clincher is when they call gays and trans people “sufferers of a debilitating mental illness”. I kid you not.

    So, uh, FotF are horrible deceitful people who want to take away queer people’s basic right to live. And the only biblical references they make are to Paul’s letters – hate-filled pieces of bile against…well, pretty much everyone. He even said that love was ‘a distraction from salvation’. Screw that, guys.

  • kanadra @ at 6:47 pm, February 2nd, 2010

    That paragraph that you quoted about teen birthrates, julie, I think i’m reading it differently than you.

    “Looking at the history of teen birth rates, it can *appear* that rates have lowered significantly and that there’s less reason to educate our youth about sexuality. The rates *have* in fact decreased, *but* the higher historical numbers represent married teens. And, married teens tend to face less life-long negative consequences of teenage births than unmarried teens.”
    (Emphasis is mine)

    I just think what they’re saying is that even though teen birth rates have decreased over time, it doesn’t mean teens are getting smarter. It just means that less teens are getting married. There are still still the same amount, or more, of “accidental” births.

    So i guess the way i read it, FotF is saying that there’s still need to educate kids about sex, even though they may advocate abstinence.

    But on the actual issue of the anti-abortion ad during the superbowl… I can’t help but imagine it will be very awkward and may be seen negatively by many. The super bowl probably isn’t the place for that ad, content wise, but the advertisers know what they’re doing. It *will* be seen by thousands of people… which is precisely what they want.

  • rockergrrrl @ at 9:35 pm, February 2nd, 2010

    I’ve always hated advertising and such, because it just makes people so materialistic and “corrupted” by the big bad corporations.

    I only plan on watching about 5 minutes of the super bowl this year to see the who
    \m/ /(. .)\ \m/
    rock and roll baby!

    I never liked football anyways…

  • Fitzroy @ at 1:22 am, February 3rd, 2010

    I am very wound up about the NFL Superbowl. It’s a offensive duel. I’ll take them Saints in a blow out.

  • dana_mai @ at 11:03 am, February 5th, 2010

    Can i recommend we watch Boston Legal? I’ve only seen one episode, but it was one in which a 15 yr old girl got HIV and sued her school for their lack of sex education, or rather, their employment of the abstinence-only sex education. The speech that the main character/lawyer made towards the end of the episode was dead on, i think. I’m sorry i don’t recall the name of the episode, but the young girl was actress Kay Panabaker.

  • concerned citizen @ at 2:11 pm, February 7th, 2010

    Steph is correct. Focus of the Family is virulently anti-gay. Keep reading those articles. The section titled “our position” is pretty clear. You an also find on the internet James Dobson’s ponderings on how GLBT people want to destroy marriage, the supposed cornerstone of civil society blahblahblah. I won’t provide a link because I don’t want to promote it, but it’s not hard to locate (hint:wikipedia can help you get there).

    Of course I don’t see any point in trying to debate a commercial we haven’t seen, but be very very very wary of anything that comes out of Focus on the Family. They are anti-choice, anti-GLBT, anti-sexual education, anti-divorce, even anti-family unless it fits their very narrow definition of what family is/should be.

  • Jenni @ at 11:38 pm, February 7th, 2010

    I watched the first half of the superbowl and i was really sad to see that the usual cleverness wasn’t there. I felt clouded with “it’s a man thing” commercials which portrayed women as these silly cutesy objects they have to deal with.. I mean, I know it’s the superbowl and they’re targeting an audience, but really? I don’t remember this being such a big trend in the past.

  • Sterling Montante @ at 1:12 pm, February 26th, 2010

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