Monday, February 08, 2010

Violence Against Mother In Pro-Life Tebow Ad

I had other plans yesterday so I didn't watch the Super Bowl or the ads on TV, but this morning I read a recap of the most memorable ads or the ones which were most anticipated. Previously I blogged about the unintended messages in the then unseen ad paid for by Focus on the Family which focused on the decision made by Pam Tebow when she faced medical issues when pregnant with Tim Tebow, her son who went on to win the Heisman Trophy.

Some people seem to believe that the Focus on the Family ad was completely benign and those who viewed this ad as having a non-benign message were wrong. That's not the message I got from watching this Super Bowl ad.

The Tebow/FotF ad shows mom Pam Tebow telling what is clearly positioned as a heartwarming story about almost losing her son, a miracle baby, yet before she finishes talking she is body slammed into the floor without warning by her football hero son. This out-of-the-blue violence of course doesn't hurt her at all which mirrors the fantasy that women who ignore doctors warnings about how pregnancy might kill them will come through that pregnancy unharmed. Another version of this ad apparently left out the tackle, but I haven't watched that one so I won't comment on it.

This violence reflects a general disregard for women that is contained in the hard line anti-abortion position where no girl or woman should be allowed an abortion under any condition. Sacrificing a child for a mother is murder according to this mindset, but sacrificing a mother for a child or even for a delayed death of a fetus is never murder. By talking about a miracle baby, those girls and women who have no earthly chance of surviving seem to be expected to generate their own miracles. If they can't, so what. The claim of one miracle makes murderous laws into benign pro-life laws.

Notably, Tim Tebow doesn't share a similar heartwarming story about his miracle mother who he could have lost. Her possible death during pregnancy isn't important enough to mention. She talked of continuing to worry about his his health, but her health isn't worth mentioning. If her life and her health were also miracles, they were of far less value.

Tracy Clark-Flury called this a tempest in a TV spot, but I disagree that omitting the political position makes the ad harmless. By positioning the Tebow's beliefs as warm and fuzzy and harmless then that falsely positions those who disagree with their political position as mean or irrational people. How dare we be against miracle babies! How dare we be against life!

This ad reflects attitudes and actions in other worldly ads. A Snickers ad showed Betty White being body slammed by a man, but that action is not and act of violence similar to the Tebow ad because it was done in a tackle during a football game where the woman tackled was a willing participant. In the Tebow ad the mom is blindsided by her loving son while talking to the camera not during a family football game.

The punchline was that "Betty White" was really a hungry young man who played like Betty White until he took a bite of a Snickers bar. The ad ends with Abe Vigoda (another older actor) being tackled with the clear understanding that that is a hungry young man playing like Abe Vigoda. The closer comparison to the Tebow ad in disregard for women's lives was in an ad for Bridgestone tires where a man mishears, "your Bridgestone tires or your life," as "your Bridgestone tires or your wife" and throws a woman to the nasty villains.

Women's rights and lives being expendable is not a warm and fuzzy belief no matter how warm and fuzzy the packaging is.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:54 AM   6 comments links to this post


At February 08, 2010 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the rape has made you ultra sensitive and maybe you need some further healing. I am a mother of 4 boys and one daughter. Boys are rough and tumble and very physical. That being said, most people would realize that the add was just an attempt at humor being that Tebow is a famous football player. It was so obvious that he adores his mother and she adores him. I'm quite certain he would protect her with his life if needed. I think your sensitivity does not allow you to see the obvious.

At February 08, 2010 2:50 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Anonymous, what your comment makes me think is that you are fine with using a serious crime to demean and dismiss others.

Your words don't hurt me when you throw my rape in my face, but they do sadden me because you try to position yourself as a caring person when what you are expressing is a total lack of caring.

In your decision to focus on my history, you seem to hope that I won't notice that you fail to address the serious problem of women dying during pregnancy and you fail to address the issue of what is done to women without their consent and how humor can reinforce the acceptance of violence.

Talking down to me and using my having been raped as your justification for doing so doesn't reflect well on you as your comment echoes the responses I frequently get from anonymous men who deny all but the most violent rapes. They often repeat your words about "boys are rough and tumble and very physical."

At February 09, 2010 8:06 AM, Anonymous Kali said...

That comment by Anonymous is not only offensive and in extremely bad taste, but it is also ignorant, misguided and bigoted against victims of violence.

I am saddened to see how many people, even reasonable people, don't think deep enough to get that the pro-life/anti-choice Tebow ad is promoting an ugly sentiment aimed at undermining the human rights of women, disguised in pretty sentiments of motherhood and love. This is how society, including women, accept the continuing oppression of women. They are fooled by the disguise.

At February 09, 2010 8:43 AM, Anonymous Level Best said...

Anonymous is a troll hiding behind skirts. Your analysis of the tone of the Superbowl ads is spot-on and describes the cesspool of sexism displayed by them accurately. Thank you for this blog and being so perceptive about what a rape culture looks like.

At February 09, 2010 10:36 PM, Blogger Le Femme said...

Dear Anonymous, you are marginalizing rape victims by implying that their perception cannot be trusted after a rape. It's not enough that they have had to endure rape, now you must cast aspersions on their capacity to think and reason. As a caregiver of four boys I am certain that it's extra important for YOU to be sensitive to this topic, as society teaches males that they are entitled to power and control over others. You could save someone else's life by educating them about rape instead of slamming rape victims for not being objective enough.

Ok, as to the ad in question, I get what you are saying. In fact, I thought the same thing about the Wolf Man movie ad. At the end, it shows a young woman pleading for her life going "it's me, it's me" and he is crouching over her body like a rapist. To me, it speaks to males who believe their compulsion to rape as being "beastly" or that they "turn into something else" during the act. No, they are a rapist, they are the SAME person. What a way to market a movie. I'm disgusted that it panders to the sick fantasies of males that believe themselves not responsible for a crime done in the moment.

At February 10, 2010 8:51 PM, Blogger Lynn said...

There is no doubt in my mind that this ad normalises violent behaviour within what is depicted a functional family. The points that Anonymous made are rather pointless. She seems to think that an adult son in a family would only be violent towards his mother if he was also unwilling to protect her from some outside force. This shows a lack of understanding of abuse within the family environment. Abusers will deny they are abusers and even go so far to vilify the notion that violence and attitudes of "other" men (or boys) as unacceptable while they perpetrate the very same behaviour. The perceptions of abusers of their self and their own environment are incongruent. Anonymous is in denial, and has reason to be so, she has 4 sons of her own. One only has to be the daughter-in-law of an abuser, to find that the abusers mother, in almost all cases, are even bigger deniers of their son's violent tendencies than he is.


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