I watched the Super Bowl last night, and I must say: I have never regretted watching something so much in my life. Full disclosure–I am a Miami Dolphins fan, so let’s just say there is no love lost between me and the Patriots.
In between Tom Brady getting sacked like a dozen times and throwing a pick-6 (and then subsequently mounting the most unbelievable, Brady-esque comeback in the history of Super Bowls…grrr), there was the typical fair of Super Bowl ads. One in particular was both moving and unsettling–this one from Audi:
The 1 minute clip touched me as I thought about my own daughter, and my desire for her to succeed in whatever she puts her mind to. I want her to know her true value, not to be knocked off course by others–whether men or women. I want her to succeed against all odds.
However, I found a few things troubling, which weren’t unique to this ad but are found all over our modern culture. My daughter needs to know:
Her value cannot be monetized.
It is a very dangerous game to begin telling your daughter that her value can be monetized. It’s important to be honest with our children about the injustices of the modern workplace. But however we talk to our girls about their pay stubs, we have to constantly remind them that their value will always be so much more.
A few years back, a life insurance agent was talking to me about a policy for my wife. And as I thought about the value of her life in our home, no dollar amount could ever replace her. My wife’s value is absolutely immeasurable. The care and nurture she provides our kids cannot be boiled down to dollars and cents–as though a nanny paid that amount would do the job just as well.
When you think about it, there has always been a place where the world tells women exactly what they’re worth down to the last dollar: the brothel. Men have monetized our girls for thousands of years. Even today, many of the women who are platformed in our culture are those who make millions by showing skin and getting into bed on camera. Is this an empowering vision to hold up to our girls?
Inasmuch as we tell our girls they deserve to be paid fairly for the work they do, we can’t communicate to them–as the Audi commercial does–that their inherent value is tied to a number on a paycheck.
Her value does not come from out-boying boys.
The commercial falls into another familiar trap in allowing masculinity to be the benchmark for both genders. Strength, grit, determination, and skill exhibited in typical manly ways becomes the only standard of excellence for both boys and girls.
Why does the girl always have to beat the boys at a boys’ game? Is there no strength and dignity to be found outside of the realm of traditionally manly activities? Is a girl lesser than who has no interest in sports or dirt or getting rough with the boys?
Each little girl is uniquely designed. I had a best friend in grade school who was a tomboy, and she really did outplay most of the boys on the basketball court and soccer field. I have a sister-in-law who made it through an extremely tough engineering degree in a classroom dominated by Y chromosomes. Certainly girls just like the one portrayed in the Audi ad are out there–and more power to them.
But what of all the other girls? Are they lesser because they can’t cut it in a “man’s world”? Society would have us tell our little girls that somewhere inside of them is a fierce woman who can make the men’s football squad and wear heels, who can be physically attractive and physically overpowering, who can be surpassingly feminine and surpassingly masculine all at once.
Men only have to be masculine to succeed in the eyes of the world. Somehow, it is equality to expect our little girls to measure up to both? No little girl should ever have to bear that heavy burden.
Her value comes from God.
The urgency in the father’s voice ultimately begs this question: Where can I tell my daughter to find her eternal value? Intentionally or not, he implies that her true value lies in her workplace compensation. But when the sweet 10 year old turns to the camera, the father in me wanted to shout: “Young lady, you were made in the image of God!”
We cannot allow our utilitarian society to communicate to our girls that their ultimate value lies in the work they are able to perform or the money they are able to earn. Men and women were designed to work (Genesis 2:15). However, my little girl’s inherent value is not in whatever work she may do in the future but in the fact that she is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Her value was stamped on her by God the day she was conceived–never to be removed.
As a human being, she can glorify God in a way that no other creature can. As an unique individual, she can glorify God in a way that no other human can. As a female, she can glorify God in a way that no male can.