We all have our favorite Super Bowl halftime performances. Mine is Lady Gaga’s from a couple years back. But this one, performed by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, is absolutely in my top 3.
What a show. What a grand spectacle. They blew my mind, and then kept blowing it.
All I can say is, the longer the show went on, the more I wanted to celebrate them. I was so impressed.
But that’s not exactly what this blog post is about…
Before the show was even over, it was deemed a controversy.
And I’m not just disappointed.
I am furious.
The reactions from a lot of men were already gross, and not because they found the show sexy, but because they immediately tried to condemn JLo and Shakira for that sexiness.
And I definitely was mad about that. I was mad at a couple men I was watching the show with for making comments along those lines.
But that’s Patriarchy 101. A hint of arousal, and they point an accusatory finger. As if women are conspiring with their penises, working against them to make them feel sexual feelings–and then force them into sin. (If you think I’m being dramatic, a man tried to sue the NFL, claiming the halftime show was keeping him from heaven).
Also, I shouldn’t have to explain this, but if you’re a man who doesn’t have a toxic view towards women, then I’m not including you when I say “the Patriarchy.” And you ought to know that.
Men are not mindless, sex-driven animals who can’t control their actions. Which is exactly why people like Mr. Halftime-Made-Me-Horny-And-I’m-Gonna-Sue are so ridiculous.
And why people who victim-blame are so horrible.
But I covered that general issue in my witchcraft-themed post a few months ago. Associating the female body with temptation and sin is exactly why a bunch of women were called witches and murdered back in the day (and why women keep getting murdered now).
But you know whose voices were a lot louder in condemning this year’s halftime show? The voices of women.
When a woman is viewed fundamentally as a sexual object, then your respect for her becomes conditional. If she’s wearing clothing that you consider modest enough, if she’s moving or speaking in a way you consider ladylike enough, then she gets to be treated with decency. If not, then that decency can be retracted at any time.
When a woman subscribes to this ideology, there is a term for that.
It basically means that she gets validation for fitting into a certain mold–she’s considered a lady; she’s modest enough; she’s whatever the Patriarchy deems respectable for a woman. And when another woman doesn’t adhere to that mold, she’s among the first to point a finger and condemn. If another woman gets slandered and punished, she’s in the crowd cheering, because it means even more validation for her through comparison.
“I’m not a slut. I’m not full of sin. They are! They are!”
To all the women posting on Facebook about how they were “so proud” that their teenage sons walked out of the room during the halftime show, congratulations, you’ve already successfully taught your children to objectify women’s bodies. And when they get older, and ultimately feel natural sexual urges, they will blame and hate the women who “made” them feel that way.
I want you to look at my face as I say these things, and as you process what I’ve said so far.
The truth is, I naturally fit into a pretty typical mold–there’s nothing risqué about my usual style, and I’m fairly quiet in general. I believe the average person looks at me and thinks, “I bet she goes to church.” And I tend to get respect. Overall, I’m in a prime position to point my own finger and act disgusted because Shakira was belly dancing.
But I know very well that the approval of the Patriarchy is arbitrary. Because it’s not me as a person that’s getting the approval; it’s my looks and my behavior. If those things changed…
Look at my picture again. What do you think it would take? If you saw my bra, would you lose all the respect you ever had for me?
What if you saw my nipple? Would you spit in my face?
When witches were getting burned, you know what would often happen? “Respectable” women would accuse other women. They’d raise suspicion against their neighbors and get more innocents killed, and it was the same principle.
“I’m not a witch. I’m not evil. She is! She is!”
And sitting here, putting these thoughts together as a writer, there’s only one word I can really think of that describes someone like that.
And to those of you out there who have been saying that JLo and Shakira were hurting Feminism by being so sexy, you’ve still missed the point. A woman has every right to sexualize herself. She gets to make that choice, because it’s her life, and it’s her freakin’ body.
Bullshit like this is.
That woman in the picture isn’t expressing herself. She’s being used as a sexual prop to sell chips.
There’s a massive difference. One that everyone needs to recognize.
I haven’t even mentioned the rich cultural significance of this show.
The Super Bowl was in Miami this year, the perfect location to showcase Latin American pride. JLo, who is of Puerto Rican descent, wore a reversible Puerto Rican/American flag for part of her performance, drawing attention to the fact that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. Joined by her daughter, singing “Born in the USA,” it was a very definite statement that Puerto Ricans are Americans, too.
Shakira was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, and she is also of Middle Eastern descent. The belly dancing was a nod to her Lebanese heritage, as well as the “weird tongue thing” she did. Accompanied by a high-pitched cry, this is actually called a zaghrouta, a traditional expression of joy and celebration. And the “stomping dance” she did was the Champeta, a tribute to Afro-Colombian culture.
I myself wouldn’t have recognized any of this; I don’t have any experience or background in these things. But I was so pleased to learn about it, because it means that their amazing show meant even more. It made a lot of people feel seen. And so on top of it being a wild, exciting performance, it was an electrifying tribute to Latin Americans everywhere. Led by two extraordinary women.
Maybe they’re just fuckin’ racists.
If you lift yourself up by pulling other people down, leave my page and don’t come back. This blog isn’t for you. Bigots and bullies aren’t welcome here.
I created The Makings of a Queen to explore my interest in fashion and personal expression, and the underlying theme has always been to encourage others. I believe in spreading the ideals of self-love and self-confidence. I talk about experimentation and authenticity–finding what makes us happy, what makes us feel good about ourselves, and paying it forward.
Tearing people down for the way they present themselves goes against everything this blog was built on, and I think it would be pretty spineless of me not to address this. Women have to stick together–I won’t shirk my responsibility on that front.
I’ve said what I had to say. I won’t be taking it back.
Have an empowering week.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive/dangerous situation, you can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233 or by clicking this link.
Stay safe, everyone.