Sunday, February 1, 2009

Football and fidelity.

Despite the fact that, perhaps for the first time, advertising revenue for this year's Super Bowl was reportedly difficult to come by, there's going to be one difference between enjoying tonight's game on CNN and enjoying it via Canada's television broadcaster CTV. Unlike our American counterparts, Canadian viewers will not be viewing the latest commercial for the Ashley Madison dating site. CTV has rescued us from this abomination against happy, monogamous marriages. Aren't we relieved.

Ashley Madison, if you're not familiar, elegantly packages the concept of sexual affairs outside of marriage. Founded in Toronto, it's unique in this regard, and one of the few dating sites that specifically is designed for discrete sexual liaisons. That this Canadian television giant has nixed the ad from this locally established service has its president, Noel Biderman, furious.

"We’re just really livid that it’s not being seen in the country where the business was born and where it’s focused,” Biderman has been quoted by various news sources. “I think that absent a regulatory reason, CTV is offside here.”

Biderman isn't a stranger to controversry for the service he and his colleagues provide. In the past, he had been lambasted during an interview on the Tyra Banks Show and his ads have been lampooned by Ellen Degeneres.

“The Super Bowl attracts a broad audience composed of families, men and women, young and old,” says Scott Henderson, CTV's vice-president of communications. “An advertisement for a website promoting adultery does not meet the standards for the quality brands associated with this premiere television property and major social event.”

So CTV has taken a "moral" stand against the ad, although the ad itself had been approved by the Telecaster Committee of Canada. Right. And Hooters is just another "family-friendly restaurant."

One might argue that Biderman is profiting on the troubled marriages of world, "enabling" infidelitous spouses to have an easier way toward "cheating" on their partners, lying, and generally contributing to the fall of Western civilization. On the other hand, one might argue that Biderman is an astute capitalist who found a niche in the awareness that the majority of monogamous relationships undergo some amount of infidelity, and only someone already having made the decision to cheat would use his service to begin with.

“Physical intimacy is no different than requiring oxygen to breathe or water to drink,” Biderman says. “If it’s missing in your relationship, I don’t care who you are, President of the United States or the Prince of England, you’re going to step outside your relationship. That’s the bottom line.”

But I can't help but wonder about the gender-political element in CTV's refusal to air the commercial. The Super Bowl attracts an overwhelmingly male audience. These men enjoy the scantily-clad cheerleaders who may occasionally appear on screen (that the Pittburgh Steelers do not have cheerleaders notwithstanding). These men presumably also enjoy the advertising that's often specifically designed, at high cost, to target them on Super Bowl Sunday. Those ads will feature beer, car, and other "guy stuff" interests.

Could it be that the new Ashley Madison ad is troubling because features a woman idly considering an affair when her boorish husband behaves like a dolt and there's this handsome fella nearby? Could it be that this Boy's Club is uncomfy with the idea of female sexual empowerment? Or that, during this annual night of ultimate male bonding, such an ad might give these tuned-in manly men pause to consider thier "football widows" tacitly enduring the evening? Would the ad have been so offensive to CTV had it shown the gender roles reversed? It's not like previous commercials for the dating site haven't done this before.

In one of her emails to me, Redhead Carla recently asked me "what's wrong with monogamy?" Nothing, really. I simply have my doubts whether it truly, consistently, happily, always works. I often wonder if we, naked apes that we are, simply aren't genetically designed for multiple partners, and that monogamy is a cultural imposition that's been hammered into our species as a means of socio-political control.

I'm not married to this idea (nyuk nyuk), but while I know there are hot, steamy, sexy monogamous couples out there, there are also many examples of those who are not. I've always found that one of the best arguments for polyamory (which isn't the same thing as swinging, but the argument applies there also), is that once we're adult enough to accept that most monogamies fail, is it a stretch to accept that one can love more than one person during one's lifetime? And once we accept that, wouldn't be nicer if all those we loved could be honest with one another on that point and might actually learn to enjoy one another's company together?

This space is far too brief for an in-depth post about poly politics. (Read The Ethical Slut, or for a bit more fun, the science fiction novel Stranger In A Strange Land.) But for CTV to ban Ashley Madison's latest advertisement on the grounds that it "promotes adultery," doesn't that beg the question that the Labatt beer commercials might be equally worthy of admonishment on the grounds that they promote alcoholism?


Ms. Inconspicuous said...

I'm all for the censorship of AM ads. Of course, this is entirely self-serving. The more popular they are, the more likely it is that my husband becomes aware of the site...and maybe it plants a little seed of doubt in his mind...

Rogue said...

Makes sense, sure. What are your thoughts on the natue of monogamy and nonmonogamy? Would you agree that, if it were fully satisfying, monogamy could be preferable to alternatives?

Not-so Virtuous Vivian said...

I believe that it could indeed be preferable.

There are the perfect and rare chemical combinations. Phenomena, though they may be.

Others who are successful in monogamy are so aware of what they both need to recognize and adapt. Thereby keeping the waters flowing.

Either way, change is the key. Or adaptation.

Rogue said...

Change, adaptation, imagination, playfulness. Absolutely.

Perhaps I've become myopic. It's been so many years since I've known a partner who sought monogamy herself, that perhaps I've simply adapted to other paradigms.

Sounds unusual, doesn't it? Isn't it typically the boys who seem monogamy-phobic, commitment-challenged? A funny world we live in.

Should the Fates introduce me to a woman who truly, fully, completely met my needs (sexual and otherwise), and vice versa... yes, I could definitely get used to the idea of that kind of stability.

But damn. Her imagination would have to be deeeep. :)

Alice Kytler said...

I've been married to the same man for ten years and we have always been expressly polyamorous. So we have commitment as well as adventure. It seems to work for us, he likes to hear about my adventures. But I must say I can conceive of the possibility of a mutual attraction and passion so deep that it could inspire one to simply stop looking. I just don't think it happens very often and I have only so much as glimpsed such a feeling in my time. And similarly to what you say, if he were going to fulfill all of my needs in one person, man, would he would have to be remarkable!

Rogue said...

What a fabulous, enviable position you're in, Alice. I'm completely confident that your man is one lucky, happy boy.

I smirk to myself as I ponder what some of those adventures of yours may have included. ;)

I'm pleased that you've been stopping by here. Very cool.