Bread and Circuses and Obamacare

It’s happened before with everything from deodorant to Calvin Klein jeans to cars, foreign and domestic.  Our government has now followed the lead of capitalistic advertising agencies to stoop to the same strategy. The only surprising element is that the latest campaign came out of Colorado, not California, so this time “innovation” comes out of fly-over country.

What is it?  They’re using sex to sell one of the most famous brands born in this century: Obamacare.

Colorado, to be honest, did not invent the strategy of selling products with sex. Our federal government has been trying to sell Obamacare with sex since before poor Sandra Fluke complained that she couldn’t survive without free birth control.  The issue is not now, nor has it been for some time, the easy availability of birth control. The issue is “free” birth control for everyone, even a poor struggling law student like Sandra Fluke who was attending a college where the tuition alone for the year was $45,000.  Somehow coming up with that extra $20 a month for extracurricular activities was pretty hard (have you seen the price of Starbucks and beer kegs these days?).

Bread and CircusesIf I had a nickel for every time I have heard someone tout “free” birth control as one of the wonderful benefits of Obamacare, I would probably have enough to supply The Pill to everyone who truly needed it because of limited income. The thing is, I wouldn’t have to; those people can already get free birth control from Planned Parenthood. The fact that it is now free under Obamacare merely shifts the cost the freebie to Obamacare, so that we can be eternally grateful for a munificent government.

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Even though the use of sex to sell Obamacare is not new with Colorado, Colorado has taken it to a whole new level.  You can see both of the ads at

They say that one picture is worth a thousand words, and this proves the point in spades.

If you look at the expressions on the actors’ faces, it is clear that the ads are aimed at females, whose faces are ten times more “expressive” than those of the males’ faces.  Those expressions are not a realistic portrayal of how anyone, much less a twenty-something, reacts to getting health care insurance. It is very clear that it is all about sex. Just like the infamous Calvin Klein Jeans billboards in NYC, or the numerous car ads, no one is thinking about the actual product being marketed. The words are there, but the promise is implicit: You can have anyone you want now that there’s Obamacare.

Personally, as a woman, I am revolted. There used to be a saying about guys who slept around:  “He did his thinking with his (insert 4 letter slang term for male part that begins with d and ends in k).” By and large, men were congratulated about scoring when they laid yet another woman (or girl), but at some point everyone realized that the guys who went from one bed to another, time after time, were not only users, but losers. Scientific studies have demonstrated that pictures of scantily clad women light up the same parts of the brain in males that are lit up when they are shown pictures of tools. In this age of equality of the sexes, there is an attempt to convince women that they too can objectify other human beings, even though their brain wave activity when shown pictures of scantily clad males does not demonstrate this reaction. It took me a long time to appreciate the diversity that I offer the human race as a female; I don’t like being shoved into a male mindset.

The one ad from Colorado flaunts “easy access to birth control,” but that has been there for some time.  Even teenagers can go to Planned Parenthood (or very understanding gynecologists) and get the Pill with no fear that their parents will be notified. Or, they can go to the corner drugstore and get condoms for less than $1 each. What Obamacare provides is the myth that it’s “free.” How long do they think it’s going to take these young people to figure out that the amount that they are paying for Obamacare premiums is far less than what they were paying for birth control which was just as readily available before they were forced into subsidizing other people’s healthcare? I would like to think that it wouldn’t take that long, but then again 60% of them didn’t get it figured out in four years what a liar Obama was before 2012 election. There seem to be some rumblings about the cost, but the penalty is cheap, so it will probably be last weeks’ news as soon as tomorrow.

BreadAndCircuses (1)The irony of the Colorado ads is that taxpayers are paying for ads to convince themselves that something they are forced to purchase anyway is going to get them everything they dream about.

I also wonder whether I have interpreted this situation correctly. Are the powers pushing Obamacare using sex to sell Obamacare, or Obamacare to sell sex?

I think quite often these days of the Latin phrase “panem et circenses” (bread and circuses). This ad campaign has made me think of it even more. To maintain control and popularity, the Roman Emperors provided free wheat and entertainment to all Roman citizens. It started with the politicians at the upper level, but it was so effective that the Emperors claimed the exclusive right to pass out the freebies for themselves. It worked. The populace came to expect these handouts as a right. Citizens were lulled into accepting the corrupt system with fewer objections because they were afraid of losing their bread and circuses. I wonder if someday there will be a phrase coined for a more recent great nation that might fall:  Their leaders maintained power through the liberal handouts of food stamps and worry-free sex.


The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Becky Wiggins

I am a Fulbright Scholar who majored in geology, worked in scientific computing for 15 years, dropped out to be a stay at home mom when my children were in late grade school, taught geometry for three years at a private school for gifted children, and have retired. I was raised all over the world as an Air Force Brat, so I identify as “Christian” rather than as a specific denomination. One of my favorite hobbies these days is singing in the church choir, with occasional solos accompanying myself on the guitar.

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