Is there a link between sex trafficking and the Super Bowl?

If you spent much time on the internet last week, you probably saw a lot of articles about an increase of sex trafficking around the Super Bowl. It’s something I’ve talked about here in past years. But this year, there’s been some pushback. People are questioning whether or not there really is an increase in trafficking surrounding the Super Bowl. Both of these perspectives have shown up in my various internet spheres, and truth be told, I don’t know which is correct. I can’t tell you which side we have more evidence for or what the statistics really show. And with an issue like this one, good statistics are incredibly hard to come by anyway. But I do know that there is a link between the two—it just may not be the obvious one.

You should know that I didn’t watch the Super Bowl last night. In the past, though, the only real reason I’ve watched is for the commercials. And I’m not the only one. Even the people who watch it for the football usually wind up watching the ads.

I’d wager a guess that most of us enjoy them, too. Or at least, we used to.

While I wasn’t watching last night, I was on Twitter. Between the many people I follow who were live-tweeting the game and the #NotBuyingIt hashtag, I got a pretty good feel for what was happening. The Seahawks were destroying the Broncos, the halftime show got the mixed reviews it always does, and the commercials, well...

They were as bad as they ever have been.

Sure, there were a few good ones. But for the most part, the commercials once again discriminated against, excluded, or objectified women.

I spent some time tracking #NotBuyingIt last night. The goal was to call companies out on ads that were sexist or sexually objectified women. This was how they were doing it:

[Video: #NotBuyingIt: Sexism in Super Bowl Commercials]

We live in a world where we’ve trained ourselves to see people as things. "Sex sells," we say, and turn a blind eye to it. Is it any wonder that sex trafficking is so prevalent? When we believe that people are nothing more than commodities, it’s easy to believe that we can do whatever we want to them.

Until we change the way that we objectify, sell, and consume human beings, we won’t be able to face problems like sex trafficking and rape culture.

The Super Bowl is more than just a football game. It's one of the largest advertising events of the year. We need to be thinking about what those advertisements are telling us. There is a link between the Super Bowl, or at least the advertisements at the Super Bowl, and sex trafficking: sexual objectification.

The media is failing us when it comes to this. It’s time that we speak up and start telling a better story.

(A word of caution: this video contains some pretty disturbing material)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NswJ4kO9uHc?rel=0&w=560&h=315] [Video: How the Media Failed Women in 2013]

Resources: #NotBuyingIt Miss Representation Film