Super Bowl Commercials: Antiquated Gender Roles for Sale!

There is nothing that enhances the Super Bowl experience more for men than lessons during the commercial breaks on pervasive sexism in the media. Though I didn’t have a decisive opinion on which team I was rooting for (I wanted the tearful murderer to lose, but I also wanted Sandra Bullock’s son to win, except they were both on the Ravens so just call me Natalie Imbruglia [I’m torn]), I was certainly sure about one thing: the sexual objectification of women in Super Bowl commercials is a major bummer!

I’ll admit that not every commercial was sexist; some were racist and some had cute animals.

Now, you might be wondering why I’m talking about this subject since women are allowed to vote and because it’s technically illegal for a male employer to rub his khaki covered genitals against a female employee while he pretends to reach for a coffee filter in the break room. You’d think between the right to participate in a democratic society and the right to not get Mad Men-ed at work we woman would finally feel like we have it all. Well, there’s still a bunch of stuff we could all work on, so why don’t we have a ourselves a kiki and talk this mothah out?

To make sense of it all, I have broken down some of the stand-out commercials and rated their lady-hating on a scale of arbitrary numbers and symbols.


So this sad, dateless boy is driving to prom in his Audi, when suddenly some kind of penis adrenaline fumes emitting from the car seep into his brain. He hits the gas, marches into prom, physically grabs a hot girl, turns her around, and kisses her. CUT TO: Boy driving home with a black eye, presumably caused by the boyfriend of the girl he just assaulted. Fade to black and the word, “bravery”.

Screen shot 2013-02-04 at 10.41.38 AM

Score: I’ll give this one 5 Notre Dame Football Players. This commercial basically says that it’s manly to take what’s owed to you (the sexuality of women) and taking a punch for it is cool and admirable (oh, and every girl secretly wants “it”). Little white boy, you are just so brave. Like, adolescent leukemia patients have nothing on you.


Screen shot 2013-02-04 at 2.28.49 PMI just posted a screenshot instead of the actual video because I have a strict “no audible kissing” policy on my blog. The commercial is basically talking about how GoDaddy is sexy and smart, with a sexy woman and smart man making out. Poor, Bar Refaeli. This is just the absolute worst way to stick it to Leonardo DiCaprio.

Score: 3 Ed O’Neills from Little Giants. The ad was just perpetuating the stereotype that women should only be valued for their looks and men for their intellect.


Here, Kaley Cuoco plays a fully clothed genie granting wishes for a family. Although I don’t think a scantily clad woman is inherently sexist, sometimes it’s just refreshing to see an attractive young woman in a well-fitting pants suit, boobies contained. The best part of the ad was when the young daughter asks the genie to make her a princess, and instead of just dipping that girl in glue and rolling her in glitter like I was expecting, they turn her into this badass Joan of Arc-y princess complete with a sword and army.

Score: 10 Tami Taylors. I can drive my 2006 Corolla proudly knowing that it’s both dependable and socially conscious.

18 thoughts on “Super Bowl Commercials: Antiquated Gender Roles for Sale!

  1. “The ad was just perpetuating the idea that women are supposed to be sexy and men are supposed to be smart.” Because of this, I turned off the Super Bowl. I was done. I came back for most of Beyonce and then was done. Didn’t even see the black out. I don’t like being insulted. As a mother of girls it made me very sad. I guess people of color are neither sexy or smart — plus neither the sexy nor the smart “representative” looked particularly athletic, nor were they permitted to speak.

    Anyway, I guess boys are good at computer stuff and girls will kiss anyone, anywhere, in front of everyone if someone in control tells them to, or pays them to.


    • Exactly! I hated the commercial over all, but it felt strange that Bar Rafaeli, who is probably doing just fine money-wise, decided to do a commercial like that. She’s not an actress- she wasn’t playing a part. She was just a body! Any woman could have been in her place. Definitely seemed like she was just doing anything for money. I guess just because I think it’s demeaning doesn’t mean that she has to feel that way too. More power to her.

  2. Thanks for that perspective. I actually didn’t watch most of the Superbowl or see many of the commercials. (How’s that for breaking a stereotype? I spent time with my kids.) Anyways, it is nice for us to get a wakeup call and realize how wrong some of the commercials are on that level. It would seem that the advertisers would realize that half the people watching the SuperBowl were women. Anyways, great post.

  3. I’m suddenly even happier that I a) live in Canada and therefore don’t “get” to see most of these commercials and b) don’t watch football anyway because gross. Hopefully someday I’ll meet a teenage boy with a borrowed Audi who can take me away from all this.

  4. Advertising and subtle or overt stereotypes, ummm, and there was I thinking the 1950’s was over. Funny, they always say sex sells, yet at what cost (and not merely of the pricing of the products being sold)! I just feel it is unnecessary to ‘objectify’ women via media/advertising. Perhaps there are people out there that these ads appeal to, yet, that alone is quite a frightening thought!
    Bex 🙂

      • Yes, it is true; nothing much has altered except the clothing!! I was shocked with those adverts, I have seen some on the internet; one in particular was extremely sexualised (a model, beach and bikini and a sandwich). It might as well have been a ‘porn-ercial’ rather than commercial break!!!
        Bex 🙂

  5. I actually did not like the Toyota commercial. Kaley as genie asks the family to each make a wish. The dad wishes something about the car. The boy wishes to be an astronaut. The mom wants to eat chocolate, and the girl wants to be a princess (who then asks an army to go defend her dad). The wishes adhere to traditional gender roles. Disappointing, Toyota!

  6. Pingback: Baby’s First Hollywood Pool Party | brunch for every meal

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