Within the first half hour of the Super Bowl, Joseph told me I could talk during the game but not during the commercials! We want our team to win yet can’t resist the allure of sponsors who spent so many millions of dollars on advertising. While Super Bowl advertising is usually aimed at men, this year’s commercials seem particularly geared for men who are whipped by the women in their lives.
In one commercial, a man stands helplessly by while his wife shops, a red bra draped across his chest, while the narrator calls him spineless. I don’t even remember what followed or what they were selling.
Another commercial selling a sports car began with isolated shots of various men’s heads; faces staring blankly at the screen while we listened to their “inner voices” narrate a litany of things like, “I will listen to you when you want to talk and not speak when what I want to say isn’t what you want to hear.” The caveat is the men in the commercial get to drive the car of their dreams because they sacrificed their masculine expression for the sake of their women’s emotional needs and egos.
What does this say about where we are as men and women in relationships in the USA? If it means women rule, I don’t think it means they’re winning! This type of relationship dynamic between men and women will NOT fix their relationships!
In the last few decades, a lot of attention had been given to the differences between men and women. A response to feminism, exploring the differences between the sexes encourages equality while celebrating the qualities of our minds and bodies that make men and women irresistible to one another. The differences between the sexes are also the crux of the humor in sitcoms. Whether it’s Jill and Tim on “Home Improvement,” Cheryl and Jim on “According to Jim,” or the gang on “How I Met Your Mother,” the differences between the sexes fuel television comedy. And, of course, the differences have secured certain romantic movies in all our hearts – from the classic “A Quiet Man” to movies like “Leap Year” (a movie I’m convinced borrowed some of its best stuff from “A Quiet Man!”)
What concerns me about this year’s Super Bowl commercials is the thin line between humor and disrespect that we may be walking here in 2010. I’d hate to see us settle for women ruling but not winning.
Women don’t win when their men keep silent because what they want to say isn’t what the women want to hear.
Men who become compliant to their women’s wishes are not men those same women maintain a healthy interest in.
And the women who insist on their men becoming more like women and less like men become less appealing to the men they say they want to hold onto.
Sexual tension speaks to us on the screen and in literature because it resonates with lived reality – our differences pull us toward each other as much as they push us apart.
It is in the dance of push and pull, attraction and repulsion, being similar yet opposites that create the mystery and allure that brings us together to make love, to make babies, to carve out dreams and futures together, to live fully in the present in the privilege of each other’s company.
Men are fascinating. And if they don’t speak because what they want to say isn’t what we want to hear, God help us! Life becomes very small when we stop challenging one another with our intellect, our emotions, our intuition, our love. Next year, I want to see Super Bowl commercials that celebrate men – that don’t sacrifice respect for the cheap laugh.