CREDIT: Carl Juniors
On Sunday night, an estimated 110 million people will tune into the Super Bowl. About half of that group will watch the game primarily for the commercials, which have become an iconic part of the quintessentially American tradition — and which are typically served up with a healthy dose of sexist representations of women.
But this year, those Americans will have the power to call out sexism when they see it.
A new smartphone app from The Representation Project, a group that seeks to expose sexism and injustice in the media, provides the tools for Super Bowl viewers to target the companies airing offensive ads. The “Not Buying It” app allows users to upload images of sexist media and tweet critiques directly at the brands behind the ad campaigns. GPS technology keeps track of where the most engaged communities of people are located, allowing them to make connections for potential acts of protest. The app also ranks which media its users are currently finding most offensive.
The app was crowdfunded on Indiegogo last year, after The Representation Project spearheaded a successful #NotBuyingIt Twitter campaign during the 2013 Super Bowl. “We’re putting the power back in the hands of the consumer,” the crowdfunding page explained. “In a media environment where women continue to be valued primarily for their youth, beauty and sexuality, it’s time we took a collective stand.”
Last year, The Representation Project focused much of its efforts on targeting GoDaddy, which is infamous for its offensive portrayals of gender stereotypes. And the group made some progress; GoDaddy recently got in touch with The Representation Project to make sure this year’s ads aren’t as problematic. The company’s CEO has acknowledged that he’s faced widespread pressure from female business owners to tone it down this year.
Over the past several years, Twitter campaigns have been increasingly successful in pressuring big media giants to take feminist issues more seriously. Activists have convinced companies to remove sexist products from stores, forced Facebook to update its policies on content related to domestic violence, and demanded that Twitter take gender-based harassment more seriously. The #NotBuyingIt hashtag specifically has won victories against sexist Halloween costumes, Hallmark cards, and children’s books.
Imran Siddiquee, a founding member of The Representation Project who currently heads up its social media campaigns, told Forbes that this proves it’s possible to challenge sexist norms, even when they seem to be deeply ingrained in society. “It just shows that if the mainstream media isn’t representing us, we can create our own media to fight back,” she noted.