Let me start with the following: personally, I thought the Super Bowl halftime show included amazing dance performances with a fantastic choice of songs from throughout both Jennifer Lopez’s and Shakira’s careers. But that is just my opinion. Everyone is free to differ. What concerns me is the body shaming and the sexual degradation aimed at the 2 performers.
As for those who questioned how Jennifer Lopez and Shakira could make the choices they did, both these performers were contracted to do THEIR PERFORMANCE – and they did. They performed like they would if you paid $500 or more to be at one of their concerts.
As for revealing, what was revealed? They were not even close to being in breach of any TV standards. What I think happens is people think, “That is close. If something goes wrong, we are going to see way too much and thus it’s too risky.” The reality is nothing goes wrong and you don’t see any of those covered areas. These performers are professionals with the best teams working with them to make sure everything works perfect.
The only time it went too far in the history of the Super Bowl – by many people’s standards – was when Justin Timberlake caused it by removing a portion of Janet Jackson’s top. Yes please remember it was Justin Timberlake who did that (not Janet Jackson).
May we also be aware of our own biases when reacting to performances and be aware of potential contradictions within the Super Bowl. For instance – as many have pointed out – cheerleaders are rarely criticized by the same people who said the Super Bowl is not the place for this kind of performance.
Since I posted my original post on FaceBook, I’ve had people say to me, “How could you be okay with that performance? What about the pole dancing? What about the gyrating? What about how little they covered? What about the women exploiting themselves?” A couple of people said they were surprised by my post because performances like the halftime show are what lead to sexual assault.
My answers are the following
Pole dancing is in Cirque du Soleil AND is considered super family friendly. I have a friend who is one of the country’s top competitive pole dancers and the athleticism is amazing. When the group I was watching the game with saw the pole dancing, everyone was saying, “Wow! That is athletic!” Not a single person brought up any sexuality to it.
With the gyrating (a word I’ve always found odd), performers of ALL GENDERS have gyrated their hips throughout the history of halftime shows. Nothing new. That move is in many forms of dancing. In this halftime show, the far majority of the moves were from specific cultural dances. We may need to pause and consider some cultural biases revealing themselves when reacting to traditional dances.
As for how little of their bodies were covered, their bodies covered more than most swimsuits at the beach. A woman choosing to wear clothes that she feels great in is her CHOICE (very different than someone exploiting or objectifying another person’s body). We are a country that prides itself on freedom and yet I am consistently disappointed by how quickly some people want to take away a woman’s freedom when they don’t approve of her choices.
The statement about how performances like this one lead to sexual assault is flat out FALSE!!! What someone wears, sings, or how they dance has NOTHING to do with sexual assault. Nothing!! The only cause of sexual assault is a person choosing to sexually assault another person.
One person said to me that you can’t expect people not to be aroused from watching such a performance. What does becoming aroused have to do with someone CHOOSING to commit sexual assault? Nothing. Becoming aroused is dramatically different then forcing that aroused body onto another human being. And strangely no one has complained about how male performers during past halftime shows may have aroused viewers.
As for exploitation, both Jennifer Lopez and Shakira designed this performance. They were not being run by anyone else. They were not being exploited. The choices they made were artistic choices – whether a person agrees with them or not. Exploitation is defined as “the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.” There is a huge difference between being exploited and having ownership of one’s choices.
One last question I received was, “Mike, what about the kids?” Do your kids see the cheerleaders during the game? How do you explain how cheerleaders appear throughout football games? As for explaining the dancing to your child, the answer for your child could be, “You are watching 2 performers dance. They design the dance and the outfits. LOTS of work goes into it.” If your child asks about a specific dance move, you can answer, “I don’t know why they chose that dance move at that point in the dance. Could be part of their normal concert or just a move they like to do.” If you are concerned your child will do the same move and you don’t want that to happen, you could choose to turn the TV off and then turn the TV back on in 5 minutes when the halftime show will be over. You choose.
In no way am I implying you need to like any halftime show. Everyone is entitled to their option.
What I am asking is stop body shaming and to stop victim blaming (with statements like, “women who dress like that lead to . . .”). And please stop degrading any gender.
Lead with Love.