The Toxic Message Behind the Tebow Super Bowl Ad
from Revolution Newspaper: http://revcom.us/a/192/tebow-en.html
Super Bowl ads are notorious for degrading women who are routinely displayed nearly naked as objects for the gratification of men to sell beer, cars, and even more fundamentally this society’s view of the role of women.
Super Bowl XLIV featured an ad that degraded and subjugated women from a different—though fundamentally not so different angle. CBS broke with their policy against “advocacy” ads during the Super Bowl (they refused to run an ad from a gay-tolerant church in a previous Super Bowl), to run 30-second ads from Focus on the Family featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam Tebow. The ads themselves didn’t specifically mention abortion, and only alluded to Pam Tebow’s “difficult time” in pregnancy, but sent viewers to the Focus on the Family website for a viciously anti-abortion message.
There, in a much longer video, Pam Tebow tells the story of being with her husband—a Christian missionary in the Philippines—and being told by a doctor that she needed an abortion “to save my life.” Instead of even considering the doctor’s advice—Pam Tebow says “we didn’t need to think about this”—she testifies that she “just trusted god.” And “god” then personally watched over her pregnancy, and now her son has grown up to be a football star.
On one level, this is a criminally insane message that—to the extent it is listened to—will result in women ignoring scientific medical care, and dying unnecessarily. On an even worse level, the Tebow family message is that women should risk or give up their lives, “without thinking,” to serve their Biblically assigned role as child-bearers.
What’s the logic, and morality behind glorifying that?
Sunsara Taylor and Janai Garfinkel wrote in a piece submitted to NYU News, “There’s no inherent value in risking one’s life for a pregnancy. Fetuses are not people. They have the potential to become people, but until they are born, they are a subordinate part of a woman’s body. If she decides to terminate that pregnancy, for whatever reason, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If a woman does have a child and it grows up to do great things, that doesn’t validate her any more than if it does terrible things that means she has failed.
“The only framework in which it makes sense to celebrate a woman for risking her life to have a child is if you are stuck in the Dark Ages. You know, back in the day when a woman’s worth was reducible to the ‘quality’ of children she bore to her husband and master."
In the Focus on the Family video, Pam Tebow speaks of studying Timothy in the Bible to get her through her pregnancy. As Sunsara Taylor and Janai Garfinkel point out, “Tim and Pam Tebow and Focus on the Family are…Biblical literalists. That means they believe it is a woman’s job to make babies and obey men. If you don’t believe us, read it in the Bible. In 1 Timothy 2:13-16 ‘god’ explains the curse put on women for ‘deceiving’ Adam in the ‘Garden of Eden’ and how we can only be saved if we bear children.”
And, they add: “Women are not breeders. We are not lesser beings. We are not objects created for the sexual pleasure of men. We are human beings, capable of participating fully and equally in every realm of human endeavor. It is time that we be portrayed as such.”
To this I would just add that it represents a very significant and dangerous shift that such a biblical literalist message would be allowed into the mainstream. There is nothing marginal or dismissable about the Christian fascists -- they are in every branch of government, military, courts, finance in this country -- they have been killing doctors and passing restrictive laws and setting terms in the culture and among a new generation.
It is significant that not only was Obama at the national prayer breakfast hosted by The Family (a clandestine, but highly influential, set of government leaders from around the world along with powerful religious figures who insist on the Bible as an instruction manual and have been exposed as connected to the legislation introduced in Uganda which would execute gay people) and closed by a prayer from Tim Tebow. All this shows even further that this ad is not "just a college football player voicing his opinion" -- but part of a major wing of fascistic forces high up in government who plan to, and are, enforcing their bigotry and Dark Ages outlook onto the lives of millions, with even greater nightmares to come.
Returning to the ad, it is highly significant that a Christian fascist group such as Focus on the Family -- with their message that women should "not even think" but instead risk their lives against the advice of their doctors for a pregnancy -- is allowed into the biggest mainstream of the country's culture. This is completely illegitimate.
Here, a quote from Bob Avakian's recent talk, Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution, is highly relevant:
"Why is it that CNN, the New York Times, etc., cannot openly and straightforwardly speak of one side of this polarization as dangerous lunatics, or as crazed lunatics? Why is it that they are unable or unwilling to look at what's said by these right-wing forces, for example in the debates about health care, and say unequivocally and with real conviction: 'This is totally out of line with reality, this has no relationship to the actual reality'? Or, around the question of evolution or other ways in which these fascist forces are totally out of step with reality, why cannot CNN straightforwardly report that one side in this is actually a bunch of dangerous lunatics and crazed fanatics?
"Their inability and unwillingness to do this is for two essential reasons: One, they are not willing to deal with the fallout from that. In other words, when the response comes from the right-wing fascistic section of the ruling class and that social base is mobilized on this kind of crazed basis, the 'liberals' and the more 'mainstream' imperialist media and politicians are not willing to mobilize and call into motion, in opposition to this, the people whom they generally seek to appeal to in their role as news media or as politicians. That is the last thing they want to do, as we have emphasized.
"And the other, even more fundamental reason flows from the fact that the continual theme that's drummed at people over and over again is that the only real, legitimate and meaningful political framework is Republicans vs. Democrats. When any news item comes out, what does CNN do, very quickly? They present things in terms of: 'What do Republicans say? What do Democrats say? Here's some Republican spokespeople, here's some Democratic spokespeople on the panel to debate it.' Not what's the truth and what are the larger implications, but 'what do the Democrats say, what do the Republicans say?' Over and over again, through 'mainstream' ruling class media, such as CNN, the idea is propagated and reinforced that these are the only terms on which things can even be considered politically—Republicans vs. Democrats.
"Well, if you insist on that, on the one hand—as they must, because this is integral and crucial for maintaining the dominance of bourgeois politics and, more fundamentally, bourgeois rule in American society and American domination in the world—if you insist that these are the only terms and this is the only framework, but then you were to turn around and say, 'one side is a bunch of crazed lunatics,' that would not only be seen as an insult to that one side—while actually being an accurate portrayal—but it would in fact be calling into question and fundamentally undermining the whole framework. How can you insist that the only legitimate framework is one in which one side is a bunch of crazed lunatics?!"
read the whole talk from Avakian here: http://revcom.us/avakian/driving/