There is an illness afflicting men of all stripes, and it’s not what you might think. No, it isn’t mansplaining, it isn’t everyday sexism, and it isn’t the unwarranted respect heaped upon Hemingway and “bourbon” (for god knows what reason except for ease of access). It’s not a physical issue, either: Dadbod — for once — can take a seat. On a couch. In a rec room in the suburbs. Where the Super Bowl is playing. But, please: No girls allowed.
For many of us, preparing for last night’s game meant not just buying a 12-pack of Bud Light and wearing pants with elastic waistbands, but also bracing ourselves for an all-male quorum around the water cooler in the office, going positively berserk for Cam Newton or Von Miller. “Did you see that touchdown?” they’ll say to each other while high-fiving. One of them will then talk about Tom Brady’s hot wife. Another will do the jerk-off motion with his hand when his friend mourns Peyton Manning’s retirement. “Grow a pair,” he’ll say. They’ll smoke cinnamon cigarettes and guzzle whatever “bourbon” is. And as a woman who is also interested in sports, you are not invited to join in.
Over 50 million women watch the Super Bowl every year, but because of men’s fear of actually engaging with women over a common interest, they are strictly forbidden from speaking about the game in any capacity that might cause them discomfort. But if you’re a natural-born rebel like I am, it seems like there is no better time to break the rules. Want to march into your office this morning spouting off to needlessly exclusive men about the Super Bowl? Want to believe that despite the lordship men hold over the entirety of America’s most enjoyed pastime, you — a woman — are allowed a voice in the office chitchat? Don’t give in: Talk to your dudebro colleagues about the game.
These men — with their “I love Hemingway” embroideries hanging above their beds and their “Football is life” stickers plastered to the backs of their iPhones — have stringent guidelines women must follow if they want to watch (and potentially even enjoy) sports. For reminder’s sake, here they are:
1. A woman may watch the Super Bowl if she promises on her life that she will NOT enjoy it. After the game is over, she must pretend that she hasn’t seen a single play. She may never speak of the game out loud.
2. A woman may watch the Super Bowl if she is watching solely to comment on players’ attractiveness. She must NOT know the names of the players about whom she is commenting, and should therefore describe them as “you know, the guy in the [insert number] jersey on the [insert color] team.”
3. A woman may watch the Super Bowl if she is a fan of Beyoncé or Bruno Mars, but NOT Coldplay, because lord knows no respecting woman would ever be a fan of Coldplay. She is permitted to speak about Beyoncé’s outfit changes.
4. A woman may watch the Super Bowl if she orders up about six dozen wings and her Venmo doesn’t work so you can just “pay her back later.” She must never ask for that money back, even though she doesn’t eat wings.
But you, empowered sports woman, you will not be silenced this year. Here are a few pointers for fun Monday office banter after the Broncos took the Panthers to flametown.
You must approach the pack with caution. When the sports men gather to discuss all the great plays, bad calls, and points scored at the Super Bowl, you can’t just stomp into the circle and expect equal footing. Woo them with an easygoing opening line, such as, “[BURP]” or “Did you hear it’s the 20th anniversary of Infinite Jest?” Then they’ll know you have established your standing among them, but not in a way that threatens their masculinity. This is when you mention your hangover.
“I’m so hung-over,” you’ll say. “I had, like, 40 Buds last night …” Pause. “… during the Super Bowl.” It should be clear to the men by now that you are transitioning into sports talk, and because of your hangover, your conversation will be a little jauntier than normal. “What did you guys think of the game?” It is around this moment that you’re likely to lose the biggest skeptics in the group. If they look down at their shoes, or attempt to change the topic of conversation by asking you to assess their Tinder profiles, stay firm. Mention a play that blew your mind or a call that wasn’t deserved. Demonstrate a face that Gary Kubiak made. Explain how boring you thought the game was — not because of your lack of interest, but because it really was a boring Super Bowl, all things considered. Give the men any easy sports-related entry point to prove yourself. Women spend most of their time proving their worth to men, so, really, what’s one more attempt?
If the pack falters and you feel unwelcome in further conversation, then — and only then— can you bring up the halftime show. Your male colleague dudebros will be overjoyed to learn that you actually like woman stuff after all, and their masculinity will remain intact. The conversation won’t last long, but eh — that’s probably for the best.
As it turns out, the Super Bowl (and sports in general, for that matter) is no more complicated or more exclusive than the Golden Globes or a bouncy castle or a night of binge-watching Netflix. If you had fun watching the Super Bowl and want to have a chat about it, insert yourself in any conversation among dudebros until they agree to engage.
And if all else fails, I know about 50 million women who wanna talk about the Super Bowl. I’ll put you in touch.