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Insights & Opinions | October 30, 2012

The lowest common denominator

Election 2012

Pro-Obama television ad shows what its creators really think of women

Lena Dunham seen in a screen grab from the television commercial she filmed on behalf of President Barack Obama.

Forget the fact that a sitting president has his name on it. Forget the fact that the overall message lacks meaningful substance pertinent to a presidential election. Forget the fact that it comes off as complete desperation in the last days of a roller coaster election.

More important than all those things, the "Lena Dunham: Your First Time" ad illustrates perfectly what modern liberalism gets wrong about humanity and society. As it equates a young woman's first vote to her first time having sex, it betrays its creators by revealing how they really regard women who, for whatever reason, aren't sexually active the day they're out from under their parents' control. The ad puts on display how a secular, feminist and ultraliberal view of the world disorders humanity and society in general and reduces our identity -for women especially - to nothing more than the sum total of our sexual desires and escapades.

And this comes from a party that's supposed to be protecting women from the war Republicans supposedly are waging on them?

Not only does the ad pick on women who haven't yet had sex, it says some disturbing things about womanhood. The overall gist comes near the 48-second mark: "It was this line in the sand: before I was a girl, now I was a woman," Dunham says. The implication here is obvious. If you haven't had sex, you're not a woman. You're a little girl. Is that the message this campaign wants to communicate in its final days?

But the real gem of the ad comes about 10 seconds earlier: "Also, super uncool to be out and about and someone asks, 'Did you vote?' [And you say] 'No, I wasn't ready.'" Then Dunham smirks at the camera. So not only has the ad reduced the essence of womanhood to a sexual scorecard, it also implies that women who haven't had that first sexual encounter should be ostracized. That they're not normal. That they're somehow less of a person than those who have had sex. I understand this was meant to be a humorous commercial, but no one laughs anymore when someone makes disparaging remarks about young gays and lesbians. That's deemed "bullying." So why is it okay to disparage women who have chosen not to jump into bed as soon as possible?

The view of reality that people like Dunham advocate is so disordered that it sees a man or woman as nothing more than sexual urges. Nothing else matters. The lowest common denominator when assessing adulthood is sexual experience.

For a Summit publication I produced, I had the privilege of interviewing Gina Dalfonzo, a writer and editor at BreakPoint. She relayed to me the stigma attached to being an adult woman in today's America who hasn't yet had sex. "You can feel like a freak show," she said. This ad does nothing but propagate that mindset toward chaste women. So many times we've heard that tolerance is liberalism's sacred cow. We must tolerate those who are different than us. But that tolerance apparently doesn't apply to chaste adult women.

What's ironic is that the culture of untethered sex that this ad advocates is what turns out to hurt more and more young women, as a letter from a Princeton University student to the school's newspaper illustrates. The anonymous student says she wished she had known what that culture does to a young woman:

I want to talk to those freshmen. I want to tell them, if you like hooking up, if you think it's fun and exciting, then good for you. But if you wake up lonelier each time, if the memories keep you up at night or if you ever wonder before, during or after the experience, 'What am I doing here?' then I would like you to know that I have been where you are.

One writer for The Atlantic has already claimed that the only people offended by the Dunham ad are white, male conservatives. Full disclosure: I'm white, male, and I'm conservative. I can't even hide behind the defense that I wouldn't want this for my daughters: I am the dad of two boys. But I'd echo what media critic Mollie Hemingway tweeted shortly after the Dunham ad was released last week: Who will be the first reporter to ask the president how he'll explain this ad to his daughters?

Michael Reneau is communications manager for Summit Ministries, a worldview education ministry based in Manitou Springs, Colo. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelReneau.