Men, Women, and Super Bowl Ads

Yesterday’s Super Bowl was pretty entertaining for a neutral observer–more points would have been nice, but the down-to-the-wire excitement made for a great game. Congratulations to the Giants for overcoming the Patriots again! (Now if only my Seahawks could get back …)

Super Bowl ads get a lot of hype–and understandably so. It’s estimated that almost 120 million people tune in to watch the game, so that’s pretty great exposure for whatever you’re selling. Every year, there are some ads that are awesome, clever, inventive, or creative; and then every year, there are some ads that are lame, flat, or just dumb. And every year there are ads that are sexist and pretty insulting–both to women (by portraying them as nothing more than things to be objectified) and to men (by advertising to them as driven and motivated by a single organ–not the brain).

This year was no different, and I’m not going to grace them by posting them on here. (You can check them out on the recap from Mother Jones at “Twitter Talks Back to Sexist Super Bowl Ads.” All I’m gonna say is, “Really, Teleflora?!” And incidentally, I actually switched from gershomsjournal.com to justinbfung.com in order to switch my registration from GoDaddy.com, on account of their ridiculous commercials.)

The topic of men and women is one as old as time, particularly in the church. And I want to point out that we as Christians should be even more vigilant at how the culture we inhabit–and, perhaps more importantly, we ourselves–think and act. As a Christian man, it matters how I think about and treat women. My friend Eugene writes:

the treatment of women is the oldest injustice in human history. It’s so old and so taken for granted, that we don’t quite understand what’s at stake – not just for women, but really, for all of us. In more nuanced and simultaneously graphic ways, women are objects to be objectified and marketed and packaged for consumption. And these messages start early and often in human development and identity.

Moreover, many Christian guys–whether ignorantly and inadvertently or, more tragically and infuriatingly, deliberately–continue to feed into this mindset that women are somehow less than we are. There aren’t very many good, genuine role models of what it looks like to be a guy like Jesus, and given that missing paradigm, we can tend to swing to one extreme (emasculated and uncertain) or the other (hyper-macho and equally insecure). Neither of those is a particularly biblical understanding of how men and women are supposed to be in relationship with one another.

Jesus should be the example for our lives, and particularly, for Christian guys, in the way that he interacted with women. I’ve posted these words from Dorothy Sayers before, but they’re a constant reminder to me on what I want to be like:

Perhaps it is no wonder that women were first at the cradle and last at the cross. They had never known a man like this man. There never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made sick jokes about women; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took women’s questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out a certain sphere for women; who never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took women as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its point or pungency from female perversity. Nobody could get from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything funny or inferior about women.

On a related note, what did you all think of H&M’s David Beckham ad? Because it just made want to work out … but is that a double standard?

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