This Super Bowl ad did not get as much attention as some of the other ones addressing gender roles, but I think it reveals a lot about modern girlhood in America. It shows a father and daughter watching a football game. After the other team scores a touchdown on their team, the daughter comments “They’re relying too much on the blitz.” Surprised, the father asks his Amazon Alexa to play the song “My Girl” to express his pride. While most of our novels present girlhood as a training period for womanhood, this commercial shows girlhood as time to learn about traditionally male pastimes as well. This change reflects lessening of distinctions between male and female adulthood, and thus between girlhood and boyhood as well.
Interestingly the girl in the commercial had some more traditional Western toys beside her, but instead focuses on the football game. Jacqueline Reid-Walsh’s essay on Girlhood spends a lot of time discussing dolls as they relate to girlhood and preparation for the “coquetry” of womanhood. She also discusses the didactic nature of girl’s literature in preparing them for their domestic roles of adulthood. However Reid- Walsh also writes “Changing concepts of girlhood now encompassed tomboys as a youthful identity, not simply a phase to be passed through on the way to mature womanhood (Renolds 2008)”.
Instead of learning “coquetry” or “domesticity” from her dolls and books, the girl in this commercial has chosen to engage in something with her father and glean knowledge by observing him. This learning style is very similar to the one presented in many of our books. Zitkala-Sâ learns embroidery and etiquette from observing her mother. Interestingly this girl has learned from her father, a male figure, rather than a female character. The novels we’ve read almost exclusively show learning along same-gendered lines (fathers teach sons and mothers teach daughters). The commercial’s choice reflects a continuing trend that tomboyishness is not only acceptable but encouraged in young girls in order to become more well-rounded women.
While football knowledge isn’t necessary for a girl to become a successful adult. Knowledge of anything traditionally seen as a more masculine topic gives her a unique sense of credibility (she’s a real fan). This commercial would not happen with a father and son, because it’s assumed that a boy would automatically understand and engage with something his father’s interested in.