By Jane Eskildsen, ’15
If you’re anything like me, you called the 2015 Super Bowl ‘the season finale of football.’ If you’re anything like me, you didn’t watch the Super Bowl solely because of the sport or because of the sport at all. For you, the main attraction of the Super Bowl was the $4.5 million worth of commercials that aired. These wildly entertaining commercials attract many viewers because of their pure hilarity.
Comparatively, this year’s commercials were particularly interesting because hardly any stood out as laugh-out-loud funny. What I noticed is that this year’s commercials could mainly be categorized as hard-hitting and emotional.
For example, the commercial ‘No More’ aired to aim to stop domestic violence. Also, the commercial by Nationwide Insurance was meant to stop accidental childhood deaths. Examples shown in this impactful commercial included being poisoned and crushed by a TV. One commercial that really stood out to me was the feminist ad ‘Like a Girl.’ It was created by the feminine product company Always and highlights the commonly insulting phrase ‘like a girl.’
The commercial got incredible backlash from the public for many reasons. It was monumental because it was one of the first times that a commercial for a feminine message aired during the Superbowl, a four-hour long event almost exclusively focused on male athletes. For years, commercials about feminine products weren’t even allowed to be aired on television.
The ‘Like a Girl’ commercial showed numerous young girls pretending to run and throw ‘like a girl.’ For many of the girls in the commercial this meant to run as fast as possible and to throw as hard as possible, a concept that goes against the derogatory phrase. The commercial also showed other people when asked to throw ‘like a girl’ who answered with a mocking response. For awhile if one threw ‘like a girl’ it meant they were weak or didn’t throw as well as a boy. The commercial introduced the idea that this phrase was no longer an insult, but instead a compliment.
The commercial also highlights how when girls hit puberty their self-confidence goes down and they begin conforming to the societal expectations that running or throwing like a girl is a bad thing.
Minutes after the ad was aired, so called ‘meninists,’ or men’s rights activists, on Twitter began tweeting about the inequality of the commercial. Men on Twitter complained that there was not a commercial for them. They began the hashtag #LikeABoy. For some, the hashtag was just a joke, but for many of the meninists on Twitter it was meant to be a hashtag that highlights the ‘discrimination’ against men.
To me, the airing of this commercial shows a large step in society. That there should no longer be an expectation of performing less than men, especially in athletics. After Title IX was introduced in the 1970s to give young girls the same rights in school athletics as young men, the equality between men and women in sports should be obvious by now.
There must still be some inequality between men and women in this day and age if the commercial was aired and there was so much controversy surrounding it. The difference between ‘like a girl’ and ‘like a boy’ is that the latter was never used as a generalized insult towards men. The hashtag proves the ego of a ‘meninist’ is so fragile that when young girls are encouraged to step out of societal expectations, they get intensely bothered.
Trying to help women overcome one societal misconception, that their athletic ability and sports are lesser to men’s, is one small struggle that men can not relate to. So no, there is not a campaign equivalent like this for boys. The ‘Like A Girl’ commercial isn’t about natural strength differences between men and women, it’s about not letting your gender define you or your skills.
But, if there is one thing that history has taught us, it is that the backlash against feminism will always be a measure of its success. That is the thing about progress, it is far too often perceived as a threat by those who benefit from the status quo.