Selling Womanhood: FiO

The way that people talk about gender make it sound like it's purely biological and immutable.  Boys and men are aggressive, driven by their biological urges, and competitive; girls and women are passive, reserved, and gentle.  What this idea misses is that gender is a social construction that has changed over time, and is shaped by many different forces.  One of those forces is from billions of dollars in advertising.

While there are multiple examples of how the media reinforces negative gender stereotypes, sometimes the media helps construct positive gender images, and Verizon's Fios "Football Girl" commercials are a great example. The commercials started out with a little girl (Ella) who's big brother won't let her play football with him and his friends ('Cuz duh! she's a GIRL!).  So instead of crying or complaining to mom, the girl gets onto her super fast Verizon FiOS internet connection, learns all about football, and ends up on the NFL broadcast talking like an expert.  Her brother looks shocked (and probably feels stupid) and his friends seem impressed.  

While there's always something you can critique about media messages, as far as gender goes, this one is pretty great.  It shows a girl as empowered and capable and doing things that are typically male.  I must not have been the only person to appreciate this commercial, because it's since become a whole series of commercials with its own promoted hashtag (#FiOSFootballGirl).  Below is another one of the commercials, which builds off the same message (this girl can do anything, and Verizon FiOS can make it possible).