Oozing Hegemonic Masculinity in the Super Bowl Commercials

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Many of us watch the Super Bowl to check out what we expect to be the most innovative and entertaining commercials of the year. Given the grand stage on which these commercials air, it is important that we analyze them in their proper context. Remember, this is a sporting event, one in which only men are allowed to participate (as athletes/coaches), where violent collisions are celebrated, and where most of the audience is male. Considering these gendered parameters, we should not be surprised that many of the 2012 Super Bowl commercials ooze hegemonic masculinity. In this post David Mayeda explores how a masculinity can be used to opress men and women alike.

Back in 1987, Raewyn Connell coined the term hegemonic masculinity in a seminal text, Gender & Power. Hegemonic masculinity refers to the dominant form of masculinity that exists within a particular culture. Relative to this ever changing, idealized form of masculinity are different subordinated masculinities – those within a culture that do not live up to the so-called masculine gold standard. Put simply, there are “real men” and then there are all other men.

In watching the 2012 Super Bowl commercials, we can see versions of hegemonic masculinity demonstrated. Perhaps the most vivid version was seen in H&M’s Super Bowl ad, utilizing soccer (futbol) star, David Beckham:

Tattooed, rugged, athletic, showcasing a lean musculature and menacing glare, Beckham embodies a hegemonic masculinity that would surely resonate

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