If you’re anything like me, watching the Superbowl and halftime show is a “social” gathering. I’m not super into football, although since I’ve gotten married, I do really enjoy watching it because my husband loves watching the game – no matter what teams are on the field, whether it is college or the NFL, he just loves the game. After the Kansas City Chiefs beat the 49er’s in a riveting comeback, it saddens me that all of the headlines about the Superbowl are people outraged at the halftime performance, or even more so, people outraged at the people who are outraged at the halftime performance. The performance is getting more attention than the biggest game of the year… and it got me thinking.
Here are a collection of comments I read online last Monday morning:
- “Well, I guess my question would be: what would you suggest would be better?”
- “Ladies, I’m so confused. We are encouraged to be confident but not THAT confident?”
- “If you’re worried about the example being set for your kids, worry about the one you’re setting. It’s bad enough that men tell us what to do with our bodies – other women shouldn’t do it too.”
- “I will tell her that you can be strong and sexy and dress however you want, and that doesn’t mean that you want sex.”
- “What I’m trying to say is, that performance wasn’t just “sexy.” It wasn’t just an opportunity for men to ogle scantily clad bosoms and bottoms. It was an incredible feat of endurance and athleticism.”
Here’s what I want to preface this blog with: I love Shakira and J-Lo, their cultural heritage, and how they can get on a stage and entertain even better as middle-aged women than they did as young adult women. It’s seriously impressive. I think the Latin culture is beautiful, and I’ve come to appreciate it even more since marrying a man who was born and grew up in Colombia. I also think women have power. And finally, the halftime performance didn’t surprise me one bit because everyone around us knows that there really is no argument – sex really does sell.
Although the halftime show didn’t surprise me, it did anger and sadden me. The oversexualization of women and men in our culture is so damaging. It’s not just J-Lo and Shakira that I wouldn’t want my children watching, it’s any football game where cheerleaders are rolling around on the ground with their breasts out of their uniforms, portraying the idea that they are “empowered and fulfilled” by what they are doing. And listen: this is not meant to be a condemnation of Shakira or Jennifer Lopez. It’s an indictment against popular culture — against us. This is what we ask of them, this is what they know will hook us, so this is what they deliver. This is what our entertainment industry demands of them. It’s what we’ll watch; it’s what we’ll discuss; it’s what will sell.
Here are a few additional thoughts:
- I felt the same way about the half-time show in 2019, when Adam Levine once again used HIS body as a tool to get middle-aged moms all hot and bothered… for me, this is not about women using their bodies, and I’m not about men using their bodies to sell sex either.
- Anything that involves a stripper pole is NOT empowering, not family-friendly, and definitely not something I’d ever want my daughter to view as being celebrated. What kind of a message are they sending to young girls when grown women take a twirl on a stripper pole on national television?
- Any “performer” that touches their crotch a dozen times throughout their performance and has a camera crew that clearly has been trained in an industry where you zero-in on sex appeal because well, like I’ve said, sex sells… that’s sad. That isn’t something to celebrate.
- It’s ironic and sad that at a time when women are crying for equality and respect, the entire Super Bowl halftime show is women objectifying themselves.
The thing is, I wish my daughter saw women given the spotlight to entertain without a camera pointed at their crotch. Like I said, I believe women are powerhouses. But, I’d like her to know that the success of women in our society need not be proportionate to the sexual desire they’re able to evoke. I want her to see that Latin culture, in all its varieties, is beautiful for the warmth and strength of its people (and so much more beyond) — not because a women wrapped in the Puerto Rican flag can turn heads. I want her to see that she doesn’t have to sacrifice her integrity in order to be a powerful woman.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira have both broken barriers in the music and film industries, proving themselves to be women of ambition, talent, and business acumen. Yet, for a few minutes, they were praised across the nation — while performing on its biggest stage — for nothing more than being “sexy,” “fiery,” and “smokin-hot.”
That’s not empowerment. That’s degradation.
It really is remarkable to me, that these powerful women don’t see that they are being used. They’re not exercising power, but yet the industry has made them believe that they are. If they were, then they’d get up on stage, fully clothed, sit on a barstool with a mic, and let their God-given talent — their voices — do the talking.
That’d be true empowerment. They’d truly be rebellious. That’d probably frustrate label executives who have told them they have to use their sex appeal to gain more and more fame. But instead, Shakira and J-Lo decided to believe the same old lie that’s been told since the days of Bernays: sex sells.
When a woman (or a man) finally decides THAT is something worthy of fighting against, then you’ll truly have something edgy, cool, rebellious, and new. Until then, I can say without a doubt that the halftime performances won’t be played in my home.