Super Bowl Sunday was a weekend of heightened vigilance for many women and children.
By Doreen Nicoll
Published February 09, 2015
I never wanted to be a cheerleader. I always wanted to be on the field or court, playing my heart out.
I signed up for every sport going while I was in school - not because I was particularly good at sports, but because participating made me feel great! My favourite sport was basketball, and believe me: that's a challenge when you're only five feet tall.
The sport I disliked most was boxing. I couldn't bring myself to hit my opponent.
When I started working and having children, sports evolved into yoga and exercise classes with the occasional run on the side. I also walk - a lot.
I can honestly say that I don't understand this obsession with sitting and watching sports on a screen. The fact that I haven't had cable or satellite in my home for the past eighteen years might factor into this.
But I do understand the excitement that fans feel when their team wins, especially when that win is over an old adversary.
Last weekend was Super Bowl Sunday. The New England Patriots beat the Seattle Sea Hawks 28 to 24, bringing to a close the National Football League's 2014 season. It was a great night to stay inside and watch the game, especially once that blizzard hit.
It was also a weekend of heightened vigilance for many women and children. Studies in the US have shown that domestic assaults increase when semi-finals, playoffs and championship games take place.
If a favoured team loses, the incidents of gender violence increases - especially when the loss is to an arch-rival. Calls to police become more frequent during the last hour of a tense game and continue for another two hours after the game ends.
The Scots have noted similar escalations of domestic assaults when the Rangers and Celtic play their own brand of football.
I'm going out on a bit of a limb here, but I'm betting that other male-dominated sports like hockey create similar spikes in gendered violence during and after important games.
To its credit, the National Football League included some very thought provoking-commercials among the usual stream of misogynous advertisements that sexualize, objectify and dehumanize women. I'm sharing three commercials that can be used to facilitate the conversations that we need to have around the role of men play in sports as well as society.
NOMORE.org is bringing together people, organizations and communities from across the US in an effort to end domestic violence and sexual assault. This group created a public service announcement (PSA) for the Super Bowl based on a real incident.
This PSA teaches all of us that to hear what someone is saying we need to be quiet and really listen to what is being said. In the case of gendered violence we then need to say I believe you and we will find a way to get help.
Always, a division of Proctor and Gamble that sells feminine hygiene products, created a wonderfully empowering commercial called Like a Girl. This delightful advertisement is a real self-esteem booster.
In its Real Strength Dove, a division of Unilever, shows us what it really takes to make a man strong.
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