Like most teenagers, I sat down this year with my family to watch the Super Bowl. And like most teenage girls, I was only focused on two things: the halftime show, and the commercials. But as the game wore on, and woman after woman strutted across the screen in her underwear, I became disgusted at what I saw.
I know that, by history's standards, modern American society is fairly progressive. There are female senators and representatives, empowering feminist organizations teaching messages of respect, and many rights for women that my ancestors never would have imagined --namely, the right to vote. Even the word "feminist" is no longer stigmatized... Or at least, not as much as it's been in previous years. In some ways, it seems that I should be quite content with being a woman today.
So why am I a little upset at Beyonce's, erm, costume and actions during last night's performance? Why do I care if each woman who appears in a commercial is tall, stick-thin, and sticks her rather large chest out for all to see?
Because it sends a message that I don't want to hear. It teaches me and my friends to not just conform to that standard of physical perfection, but to flaunt our bodies for all to see. My guy friends, however -- the ones who cried, "Oh, damn!" as Beyonce rolled around on the stage with her hands on her thighs -- can look however they want; and, they can demand this level of perfection in every girl they encounter.
Maybe our society has progressed, but there are still some blatant flaws in our measure of equality. As was the case during the 20th-century women's rights movement, many of our limits as young girls are self-imposed. We buy into the stereotypes. That "Seventeen" Magazine mindset of fixating on our hair and clothes above all else seems pretty much inescapable at a public high school. I can't count the number of times people have asked if I've seen the latest "Gossip Girl" episode, and yet no one wants to know if I've read this month's "Economist."
The Saturday before the Superbowl, I competed in a state debate tournament. After a grueling hour-long round on financial aid (always a fun topic for college-bound juniors), our parent judge approached me and my debate partner.
"You're the only all-girl pair I've judged today," she said. "Can you believe it? It's 2013!"
Flash-forward to Sunday night, when I watched a hot model make out with a so-called nerd during a GoDaddy commercial. The message, at least to me, was simple and direct: Leave the technological smarts to the unattractive men, and let the women sell sex.
At the very least, the portrayal of women was consistent throughout the Super Bowl commercials. Whether the ad promoted DirectTV or Budweiser, it featured a woman, and she was scantily-clad and stunning.
Even if these commercials and halftime show weren't offensive, they're downright inappropriate. The Super Bowl is supposed to be a family event, and it's supposed to target all demographics. If that's the case, then my mom shouldn't have to cover my six-year-old brother's eyes every time a girl comes on stage. He shouldn't have to grow up in a world where he's told to judge women first by their bodies, and worry about their brains only after their bra size is determined. Enough is enough.