Is This ObamaCare Ad “Degrading to Women?”

by Brenda Pitt


The internet is ablaze with fury after the release of an advertisement by ProgressiveNow Colorado and Colorado Consumer Health Initiative for ObamaCare. The ad features a woman beside a man; he holds her around the hips, and she holds a packet of birth control pills. Beneath the image reads, “OMG, he’s hot! Let’s hope he’s as easy to get as this birth control. My health insurance covers the pill, which means all I have to worry about is getting him between the covers.” 


Critics find the ad “degrading to women.” Republican representative Cory Gardner complains, “it says a lot about what they think of America’s youth today.” The comparable ad aimed at men pictures a bunch of guys doing keg stands, so yes, maybe the ad developers thought young people would pay more attention to healthcare if the images featured alcohol and sex. The implication that women on birth control necessarily enjoy casual sex is certainly deeply problematic. But is the ad targeted at women degrading, meaning “causing a loss of self-respect; humiliating?” I don’t think so. 


The woman is by no means an object intended to sexualize young women; in fact, she averts the male gaze altogether by making an “OMG he’s cute” face she might make when addressing a girl friend. And most of all, she is the only individual with power over her sexuality: she chooses the man, the contraception, the healthcare plan. Hopefully she also plans to learn her partner’s sexual history and/or use condoms. 


The tagline “got insurance?” is clearly a play upon “got milk?” The ad might be intentionally or tongue-in-cheek, and it’s in some ways limiting to modern definitions of female sexuality, but I daresay it’s not degrading. And regardless of controversy, the ads are spreading the word and expanding the conversation on affordable healthcare. As ProgressNow Colorado’s Amy Runyon-Harms writes, the goal of the campaign is to “raise awareness, and that’s what [they’re] doing.”


What do you think? Let us know in the comments!


Thanks to Fox News

Image via Fox News

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.