An Open Invitation: National Level Feminist Organizing and the Super Bowl

So it’s the Super Bowl, one of the highest emergency phone call days for women’s crisis lines and E.R.s … it seems odd to me that there was more national organizing this year around the conservative “christian” advertising for the Super Bowl than there has been about the link between violence against women and super bowl weekend in at least 15 years. And it makes me wonder about the shift to “lifestyle liberalism” in feminism that makes it more hip to discuss the potential feminism of Beyonce’s latest single than to address the failure of relief agencies to consider women’s basic needs (sanitary napkins, plan b, estrogen replacement meds, etc.) to disaster zones on a regular basis. In other words, it makes me wonder when we stopped fighting to change the world and started just wanting to be comfortable in the one we already live in.

Don’t get me wrong, obviously Focus on the Family has a major impact on the rights of women and the queer community/ies around the world, but

  • where is the public, national, concerted effort to block Focus on the Family lobbyists from working to deny women in developing countries access to a wide range of reproductive choices and family planning services?
  • Where is the public, national, concerted effort to expose Focus on the Family’s supposition that all gay people are child predators and to mobilize anti-gay rallies and sentiment in battleground states by main stream feminists?
  • Where is the concerted effort in a campaign that targets hypocrisy at CBS to hold Focus on the Family accountable and raise awareness about their local, national, and global agendas to stunt define family in ways that negatively impacts both straight and queer women, to deny repro rights around the globe, to invest in homophobic and transphobic campaigns, etc.
  • How does writing songs about how much CBS sucks and putting them on youtube actually impact what Focus on the Family does or does not do? (And I love that song and that elder women did it by the way)
  • How does focusing on CBS’ hypocrisy raise awareness about how much money is generated by advertising for the Super Bowl while no money is being spent on women’s safety during the event?
  • How does today’s activism translate into a concerted effort to continue to confront these issues in the future?
  • And does this effort, which has so much potential for intersectional feminist organizing, actually address intersections relevant to ALL of the women impacted by Focus on the Family and CBS’ hypocrisy?

So while I see this organizing as a critical part of a larger feminist movement, I wonder about its narrow focus and the ease with which we can rally at the national level against a single commercial while funding for domestic and sexual violence services are being universally cut, women’s crisis services were not budgeted for as part of the extra money funneled into Super Bowl security and EMT services, and some women’s advocates dared to pit the needs of “women” (read white floridians) against those of Haitian refugees (read black men, b/c obviously they aren’t women right? and certainly not women who experienced any kind of sexual or physical trauma), while the nation is silent.

I could go on with this guilt trip, after all it seems when I do my stats always go through the roof, but instead I’ll leave you to ponder these things and if you are so inclined to weigh in on the things you think we should have been organizing around as a national level feminist movement with a local-global focus in addition to the advertising for the Super Bowl.

5 thoughts on “An Open Invitation: National Level Feminist Organizing and the Super Bowl

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. Yeah. All that.

    I call this the difference between wanting a larger slice of the pie for women, vs. wanting a different pie altogether. I’ve become less willing to accept that this is the only pie we can have.

    Fighting over slices of White Guy Pie is easier than changing the world. It’s easier to explain, it’s easier to implement. Making middle-class women wealthier is a more glamorous task than working toward the health and safety of struggling women. On the one hand, the fun and sexy work attracts people to the cause and staves off burnout by offering easier victories. On the other hand, how much of our energy is bled off into the sideshow and is just unavailable for the critical work you’ve enumerated? There’s a balance, and I fear we’ve swung far, far over to the superficial end of the scale.

    • good point. I always tell my students to consider why we all invested in pie in the first place. why not cookies or brownies or muffins? If we want change, why not real change?

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