The Super Bowl commercials seem to have generated more discussion about sexism, violence, and race than creative”wow” factor (GoDaddy’s Kissfest spot wasn’t just lacking in creativity, Democratic campaign strategist and Sunday morning political pundit Donna Brazil thought viewers may have lost their dinner over it).
Audi seems to land at the top of every critic’s list for the Prom Night spot it ran early in the evening. Forbes columnist Jennifer Rooney summed up the ad’s offenses: sexual assault, violence, and sports car driven machismo (no pun intended). Add Doritos for stereotyping and mimicking little girl’s play, Mars candy making M&Ms unpalatable, and a Calvin Klein ad that left a lot of men thinking they need to put the wings and beer down and clear off the Nordic Track, and the season for Super Bowl ads was pretty disappointing.
And then Dodge Ram Trucks told “The Rest of the Story” complete with a Paul Harvey
The beautifully produced spot giving American farmers much-needed recognition in front of a huge global audience made critics and viewers swoon. However, Dodge’s commercial was so busy marginalizing women and minorities who farm, that I had no idea whose trucks had just been advertised.
Based on the Dodge commercial one might think that “farmin’ is man’s work” and really, white men’s work.
I counted 12 white men, 2 white boys, 1 white women, 1 black male, 1 Hispanic male, 1 Hispanic woman, 1 white girl, 2 pair of white hands (I don’t know what the gender is of the person holding the baby chick, could be a young boy or young woman), and one white family (with two adult men at the table). I couldn’t determine the race of two men.
The United States Census of Agriculture used to think only men farm too. Up until 2002 it only collected data on one operator per farm, which meant the “womin folk” weren’t counted if there were men folk on the farm.
Between 2002 and 2007 the number of women led farms grew by 19 percent to over 1M women strong. The 2007 US Census of Agriculture reports that 30 percent of our nation’s farmers are women, and we run 14 percent of the farms as the principal operator.
Some of the staunchest allies I have met fighting proposed coal plants in Georgia are women farmers. They understand what will happen when a coal plant begins sucking 16M gallons of water a day from the groundwater that waters their livestock and crops. One woman asked if she could even call her produce organic if it is exposed to such high levels of coal plant toxins. And what will their land be worth if coal emission stacks cast a shadow over their fields?
My friend Laura Norris grew up, and farms, in Ben Hill County. There are stretches of time when she works her family’s farm alone and puts in long days in steamy south Georgia. Laura told me, “I come from a long line of hard-working farm women. My grandfather was a farmer and his wife and three daughters worked in the fields right beside him. When my 98 year old Great Aunt was in her last year of life, we asked her if there was anything she’d like to do again if given the chance. She smiled and said, “I’d like to crop tobacco one more time…”
Long before there were trucks to drive, women farmed, raised barns, herded cattle, cooked what they harvested, and women made the money stretch a little further.
Farming will make you humble. It will make you stay up at night worrying that there isn’t enough rain, or too much. Will the price I can get support my family? Will we have enough hay this winter?
We need to make a special effort to support the farmers who show up at local farmer’s markets with vegetables still wet with last night’s dew. They are our friends and neighbors, sharing their love of the land in our communities and what it can give to us in return for good stewardship. And millions of them are women.