Everyone's up in arms over the Super Bowl commercials and their relation to violence against women.
A statement from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation reads:
“We commended the NFL … for the domestic violence PSA that ran during the 2015 Super Bowl. We are hopeful that the chilling ad will impact many. However, while the NFL strives to educate on and oppose domestic violence, we must note that NBC accepted and ran ads for the film, 'Fifty Shades of Grey.' To promote the sexually violent film as entertainment in the same hour as the NFL's PSA sends a mixed message to the viewers. We hope that patrons recognize that the PSA features more realistic implications to the end of the twisted 'Fifty Shades' fairytale.”
First I will present the evidence, so you know what exactly people are talking about.
National women's organizations are thrilled with the NFL for creating their own domestic violence ad (insert pat on the back):
Although somewhat chilling, the message is nowhere near as clear and concise as it is in the ad created by Ultraviolet :
Now what's upsetting people is that the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trailer was also shown during the Super Bowl, and this was criticized as creating a confusing environment for viewers:
This is where I would like to stop and make my first point. "Fifty Shades of Grey" is a fictional story about consensual sex created for adult entertainment. Domestic violence, and violence against women in general, is NON-CONSENSUAL and definitely not entertaining. The BDSM lifestyle is a choice where both partners create a safe space to explore fantasy. I can see this may be where the confusion comes in, so I’m going to make it really clear to anyone who has an issue differentiating between the two.
1. Don’t ever lay your hands on another human without their consent. Some people say they can't tell if it's consensual or not so here's a tip: If you aren’t sure, it's not.
2. Don't hit people. There are very few situations where this is a good idea, so skip it 100 percent if you're confused about it. Seriously.
3. I don't care how hot she is or how mad you are, there is no such thing as “leading you on” or “having it coming.” Refusing to have sex with you, changing her mind or accidentally making you feel jealous are not justifications for violence. Ever.
4. If you have a terrible temper and often find yourself clenching your fist with a burning desire to drive it into someone's face, please get help. Even if it only happens when you get really drunk. Even if it only happens after a long week. Even if you think it's everyone else's fault for pushing your buttons. They are your hands and you're responsible for them.
It's going to take a lot more then mediocre domestic violence ads to lower the rate of violence against women, and every time we convince ourselves that this is true we do ourselves a disservice.
That leads me to my second point of contention. People were worried that showing domestic violence ads in the same space as entertainment ads may confuse people and lead them to make violent choices. How about the massive fist fight at the end of the game? How many humans across America felt a surge of testosterone while that was happening? Did anyone take time to call the wives and girlfriends of those players involved and check in? It seems to me that there is a very dangerous situation brewing when these men go home.
Exhausted, frustrated, having lost the Super Bowl, pumped up the adrenaline by getting in a fist fight—this seems like a recipe for disaster if you ask me, and I can pretty much guarantee you that no one was stepping in after the game in a preventative fashion to protect those in the line of fire. How’s that for confusing?
And then of course there's the overwhelming amount of female nudity and objectification. Now I generally have no issues with nudity of this type, or nudity in general, but when we're pretending that a violent sport filled with men attacking each other is a good venue for teaching people about domestic violence, you really can't discredit these. Yet that's exactly what happens when there are hot shiny babes and food or beer involved.
Sadly, no one took notice of the domestic violence ads at the Super Bowl party I attended, but the entire room went silent when ads like this appeared:
It's going to take a lot more then mediocre domestic violence ads to lower the rate of violence against women, and every time we convince ourselves that this is true we do ourselves a disservice. There are years and years of history and blind justification for the way people behave (misbehave). Until we start expecting more than an archaic comfort zone, and accepting no less than total mutual respect and equality, this will never change.
Plus, we need to stop pretending men are easily confused and don't know better—they do.