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Making the Children Leave the Room

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira perform during the halftime show at the NFL Football Super Bowl LIV, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Fla., February 2, 2020. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

In response to J. Lo’s Stripper Routine Was Not ‘Empowering’

I think Kyle was exactly right in his post this morning criticizing last night’s Super Bowl halftime show, put on by Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. “It was pure self-objectification, flaunting feminine sexual appeal for the purpose of titillation,” as he put it. I had the same thought; we talk a lot about women’s empowerment these days, and about how men shouldn’t treat women as sexual objects. That’s all well and good, of course, but must we fix that problem that by glorifying women who present themselves as sexual objects? That’s really not much more empowering than when men do the same thing to us.

But I had another thought about last night’s halftime show, too. What about all the kids who must have been watching? According to the Hollywood Reporter, nearly 100 million people watched the game last night, many of whom were children, all of whom were subjected to gyrating, partially clothed women and an especially sexualized performance from J-Lo using a stripper pole.

When I remarked on Twitter yesterday evening about how this performance wasn’t a great choice for a game that many children watch, plenty of people offered some kind of rebuttal in the form of, “Why can’t parents just make their kids leave the room?” Perhaps they shouldn’t have to.

Perhaps parents of young girls shouldn’t have to worry about their daughters catching a glimpse of a grown woman pretending to be a stripper, leading to questions about her own body image and her own dignity. Perhaps parents of young boys shouldn’t have to worry about their sons curiously watching barely clothed dancers performing overtly sexualized dances when they’re just trying to watch their favorite athletes. Perhaps parents should be able to leave the room themselves without wondering what kind of inappropriate content might appear onscreen during one of the most televised moments of the year.

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