Don’t Tell Me I Give Feminism A Bad Name

In her post, Phony Feminists and Super Bowl Commercials, Karen Townsend says that the “outdated, outmoded, out of touch [with the] feminist movement” females who’ve “loudly bellowed” in a “snit” that CBS — a network which has blocked other advocacy groups from such an opportunity — would give a radically anti-choice group like Focus on the Family a platform to expose its extreme agenda to millions of people have “hijacked a perfectly good movement have brought shame to those of us who are feminists.”

They have given the term a bad name.

What was the snit about? CBS allowed the showing of a message ad, not allowed before in Super Bowl time. The message? A pro-life testamony given by the mother of widely known college quarterback, Tim Tebow. The silliness of the brouhaha was evident, once the audience actually saw the commercials. Not only were they so benign that if you were not paying attention you may not have realized what the message was-

I hate to interrupt Townsend, but as this is writing, not speaking, and it’s easier to read if I respond to points as they occur, I will interject. Spelling errors aside (it’s “testimony,” not “testamony”), it’s not wise to label something as a “brouhaha” or “benign” when your evidence is that the message isn’t discernible to those who are not paying attention; “not realized” is the definition of not paying attention, and inattentiveness is quite often a danger to one’s health. The only “silliness” here is that her last statement completely refutes the former statement.

Townsend continues:

…now they are complaining that one of the ads promotes violence against women. Why? Because in one of the ads – they were run in a bit of a story line – Tebow appears to tackle his mother and then she bounces right back up. Obviously done in a campy kind of humor, the loud in the feminist movement have been reduced to whining over a non-act. There was nothing to their concern over a pro-life message ad, so they had to do something to attempt to save face.

They are shameful and not at all effective.

Personally, as a subscriber to several “feminist” and/or pro-life newsletters, I didn’t read any such commentary regarding the campy tackle violence. And Townsend didn’t link to any such statements, let alone from any organizations. (I’m sure I could Google for such things — but then this conversation would veer off-course.) But I can tell you that personally, my ire over the ad aside, I am a feminist with a sense of humor who did see the mother-son tackle as “campy.” And I’m a survivor of domestic violence and other violent acts directed at me because I am a woman. Many feminists have a sense of humor. Even about “touchy” issues.

Townsend says those of us who were offended by the ad — or, more specifically, the hate group which sponsored the ad being allowed to spew its tainted philosophy while other groups are not allowed to use the network’s time and powerful audicne pull for their messages — are “shameful and not at all effective.” That’s a two-pronged argument; with neither prong supported.

To stand up for what we believe in, to point out unethical practices — especially those which will limit our message, is not shameful. (The misogynistic, unhealthy, fear-based, hate-filled, discriminatory, and down-right mean “focus on the family” that the Focus on the Family organization has is what is shameful. That organization is unmistakably not only anti-choice, but anti-birth-control and anti-sex-education, as well as anti-gay.)

Since Townsend did not define what “effectiveness” would be, it’s difficult to debate her. Obviously the campaign to motivate CBS to reject the commercial was unsuccessful. But such a “brouhaha” has also helped expose the lies in the ad. And overall the “loud bellowing” has done what Palin et all do for the far right: motivated the base. Hardly ineffective.

Townsend continues:

Sad, really. Many women who have come before all of us worked very hard to make the lives of us better today. We stand on their shoulders. These women make a mockery out of serious women everywhere.

Despite my early mention of a sense of humor, I am indeed a serious woman. A woman, even a feminist, can possess both traits.

And I thank the women and men who came before me, working to ensure that both myself and Townsend would have the right to be heard, among other things.

Unlike Townsend, I believe in a woman’s fundamental right to control her own body. I also believe in a woman’s fundamental right to control her own soul. So if, in the act of controlling her own body, she uses birth control or aborts a fetus or otherwise exercises a legal right which is revealed in some afterlife to have been a sin against a god, I trust her to handle that too.

I would just agree to disagree, but how can Townsend or anyone else say that feminists such as myself “have given the term a bad name” when they themselves seek to limit the rights, the equality, of women?

Seeking prohibition on female autonomy, free will, and health is not “feminism.”

Townsend finishes her post with this parting shot which exposes her ignorance of the actual issue at hand:

Hey, did I miss all the outrage by the loud over the Go-Daddy commercials? Now, those are demeaning to women.

The point of our “snit” was not the demeaning sexual message, or even the message of anti-choice; it was the unethical practices of CBS. First to allow such advocacy on the network when other ads from other organizations with a different point of view or agenda are not allowed. Second to allow false advertising.

Such unethical practices should offend everyone, especially those in a capitalistic society, where the free hand of the market is supposed to dictate fair play; if an organization has the funds for the ad, they ought to be able to buy it. Or, if the network’s policy is slanted or assists a specific agenda, it out to be stated clearly so that the consumer can make a clear choice about consumption — surely that’s one choice you can agree to.

Related video (or read Davis Fleetwood’s response to the Tim Tebow SuperBowl Ad):


  1. Nicely done. As a Baby Boomer an a pro-choice Republican woman, I also support a woman’s right to control her own body and make her own decisions. I do, however, resent the hypocrisy of the current ‘feminist’ leadership. The lunacy of decrying the fake tackling of Pam Tebow in the commercial is a good example of just lashing out to lash out.

    To call a group a hate group – referring to Focus on the Family – is also bad form. Just because you do not live their philosophy, that they claim is guided by their religious faith – does not make them a ‘hate group’. I am not here to defend them. I am not a member or a supporter of them but it doesn’t make them a “hate group”.

    I completely agree – CBS should have also taken the ad by the gay dating site. Fair is fair when you open the door to one group, it should be open to others. That was CBS’s decision, though, and the Tebow ad simply went through with the agreement.

    And, thanks for the spell check. Everyone can use another set of eyes.

  2. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for continuing the discussion!

    I’m gonna keep the comedic tackle out of the conversation, if you don’t mind, because none of the organizations/groups I associate with sent out anything about that issue (or, if they did, I missed it). In all probability, what has been said about such “violence” would seem to fall (in my view) under the, “And another thing!” category; something said by people who are very upset at the first two issues and miss the humor of a football player tackling his mommy (though I’m sure that’s a conversation point on it’s own in terms of a violent society).

    It is my opinion that Focus on the Family is a hate group. Not because I disagree with their interpretation of a religion or faith. But because I am unwilling to live their philosophy — and here I am operating under the assumption that you and I are using this differently than “religion” or “faith,” in part because you chose another word. I’m using “philosophy” here to mean Focus on the Family’s ideology driven agenda and the actions they take to pursue their mission.

    While defining a hate group based on rhetoric may be difficult, as seen in this excellent attempt by Geoff Guth, and direct acts to violence have not so-far been attributed to Focus on the Family, we unfortunately have other actions by which to judge the group.

    It’s not only that Focus on the Family associates with other known hate groups, such as the Council for National Policy, for associations and associates may not always be a simple matter of choice or shared views (for example, leaders of one may organization may have to meet with leaders of the opposition); but that Focus on the Family funds other hate groups, such as Promise Keeper. Funding, especially in our capitalistic society where lobbyists are hired mercenaries, is a weapon wielded. Focus on the Family funds hate groups who target the same groups of people Focus on the Family hates. How is that not a hate group?

    You and I both agree that CBS was unfair (I’d call them jerks with an agenda that should be looked at, but I’m happy to leave it a “unfair” and agree lol)

    But when you say, “the Tebow ad simply went through with the agreement,” have had to remind you that part of that agreement may have been broken if, as it appears, the ad lied about his mother’s situation while pregnant; it would be false or misleading advertising, which breaks consumer protection laws and therefore, I imagine, the agreement with CBS.

    Re: the spelling comment — I had to mention it or my readers would pester and me (or, some might think I did that to your words). I hope it didn’t sound too snarky, though I suppose in context, there’s little way for it not to… But as one who makes typos all the time (hence my admitted readership heckling), I totally understand one on your post. ;)

  3. I really enjoy your blog – I just found it when i was looking for photos of sadomasochistic beauty practices in the West. Your piece on the corset was fantastic :)

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