I’ll be spending this Super Bowl with my sisters, who are members of Feminists for Life (“because women deserve better”), who are “pro-life”, and who think that birth control is immoral and abortion should be illegal (with strong punishments for the doctor who performs the abortion and practically no punishment for the woman who chose it). I fully anticipate that there will be a moment of awed silence when the much-vaunted commercial airs. It will then be followed by rounds of, “Why don’t antilifers want people to see this?” To which I shall reply thusly:
“Tebow is a woman who was faced with a difficult medical situation and offered a set of choices by her doctors. She was given all the information she needed to make a choice about her medical welfare. She was told what the doctors recommended. Then, she made her choice. No one can help but respect that. The problem that ‘antilifers’ have with this ad is that it does not celebrate choice, it attempts to remove choice. This is not a celebration of one woman’s difficult choice, this is rhetoric that claims that this choice was the only one that any woman should be able to make. And that is not worthy of respect; that is worthy of derision. It is worthy of objecting to the ad. Anyone who says that their choice should be the choice for all people is, at best, insane. Choice equals choice, not predetermined choice.”
It is likely that my argument will fall upon deaf ears. But since this is my bully pulpit (and the home of my sister will not be), allow me to flesh this out a bit.
CBS is a content provider whose use of the airwaves is supposed to be at the whim of the people. Of course, this has long since become a fiction that we use to make us feel better about corporate control of information. It is fully within its rights to decide how it will decide what content it will broadcast. So I do not object to its right to allow Focus on the Family to push its agenda while disallowing MoveOn.org from pushing its agenda. It is also, however, the right of those disenfranchised by its decisions to delve deeper, publish information about those decisions, create satire [via Feministing], and boycott the company in an effort to change its ways.
CBS should be open about the fact that it worked closely with Focus on the Family to develop the commercial (via Feministing, which notes, “I wonder how many other of their advertisers get such personal attention.”) It should be open about its political agenda or—if it wants to maintain a façade of neutrality—allow political views with which it disagrees.
Meanwhile, there is evidence that the story extolled by the commercial (that Tebow refused her doctor’s recommendation to abort while in the Philippines as a missionary) may not be true since abortion was illegal in that country at the time and punishable by six years in prison. Take from that what you will.
Fortunately for us all, two male professional athletes have spoken up about the ongoing degradation of women by anti-choicers:
We’re working toward the day where every woman will be valued. Where every woman’s decision about her health and her family will be respected.
We celebrate families by supporting our mothers, by supporting our daughters, by trusting women.
Since football is one of the most misogynistic of our national sports [via Feministing] (which, I know, is like calling water one of the wettest liquids), I think that’s the sentiment that CBS should be promoting. I support Tebow’s decision. I just wish that she returned the favor.