Sadly, I did not have time to watch the Puppy Bowl ads.
Breaking down who had the most offensively misogynist ads on the Monday after the Super Bowl has become an internet tradition, and it’s clear that it’s one that is having an impact. Last year, misogyny rates seemed down, and this year they seem to have falled further. (Sadly, some baffling racism has risen up instead. Dear advertisers: Why not try just not being bigoted in your ads?) This year, it seems—at least from the ads I watched, which was pretty much most of them—that it’s fallen again. With one big exception, of course, which is the Go Daddy ad. I won’t be linking it here, because I don’t want to give them more views, but also because it so deliberately wallowed in making kissing feel gross that it made the people at my party feel ill. Linking it would be like putting up gratutitious zit-popping or puking videos. But a still picture isn’t that bad:
My take on the ad is simple: While most companies understandably want to run away from being called misogynist on the internet, Go Daddy clearly thinks it helps their brand. Maybe their market research shows they have a lot of customers who rant about “fake geek girls” on the internet and enjoy revenge porn sites. This ad was symbolic vengenance for men who think their human rights are violated because they don’t get to fuck the woman of their choice, and a fuck you to everyone else who thinks that’s ridiculous. The good news is that Go Daddy isn’t being oblique about their marketing anymore. What’s interesting is that the ad deliberately makes the kissing as gross as possible, so that you’re grossed out whether you like it or not. Making sure everyone else is so turned off that they’re not getting laid tonight is just an added dig at the non-target audience, I guess.
Other than that, it was pretty free of the lady hate. I saw some fussing on Twitter about this Kia ad:
While I can see why some might find this just another variation on the standard objectification of women in ads, I saw it as something of a satire of the trope. I do think it’s a failed satire. I just don’t really think that violence as a satirical response works very often, if at all. And it failed, too, because the message was that you should respect cars like you should respect women, which is still objectifying and not really getting the concept of “consent”. You don’t need a car’s permission to touch it.
The one ad that really pissed me off was the Audi ad:
The whole “women just need a little force and then they’ll like it” trope is, of course, classic rape culture. Oh, I can hear the squeals of protest. “He didn’t RAPE her, you overly sensitive feminazi whine whine whine”. (Indeed, there’s already huge amounts of whining from dudes who are attached to the fantasy that forcing yourself of a woman will be met with her approval.) But of course, kissing actually is an intimate act and forcibly kissing a woman, while not illegal, will scare the shit out of her. So, if you think of women as people, then how they actually feel being grabbed and forced into a kiss should matter. Also, if you consider some forms of forced intimacy “cute” and others to be terrible violations of the person they’re forced on, that sure does muddy the waters! At what point does forcing yourself on a woman stop being cute and start being criminal? When you move on from forcing your tongue down her throat to forcing your hands down her pants? Obviously, the lines start to blur and that’s why it becomes so easy to start talking about how forcibly penetrating women isn’t “rape-rape” but some kind of “gray rape” because blah blah anything-excuse-to-ignore-lack-of-consent.
What’s worse is that the ad didn’t need to have non-consent in it. All they needed to do was have him come in, have her look at him, have their eyes meet and suddenly she’s melting and he walks up, consent obtained, and they make out. It would have been even more effective, since it would have suggested his new virility is visible to others. Instead, they go with “she might resist at first, but women secretly love being forced”.
The worst part, of course, is that it went over so many people’s heads that this was what it was. Which says a lot about why it is that when women are groped, cat-called, or creeped on, so many people tell her that it’s her job to shut up about her dislike of it and be flattered instead.
Luckily, it’s already being called out, as are the gross dudes who will die on the hill of claiming that creeping on women and forcing yourself on them is a legitimate form of flirting.