The Super Bowl has come and gone but the conversation about the halftime show might have taken center stage.
The show headliners were two Latina women, Jennifer Lopez, or J.Lo as she’s known by fans, and Shakira. Both are strong performers with unique styles. Both are dancers with two decades, three or more for J.Lo, under their belts. And both tend to wear little clothing and twist and shake in ways many Christians might find inappropriate.
So, when the halftime show was announced and the two took the stage, most of us should have known what to expect. They performed as they have most of their careers. And as one who was a dancer in her younger years, their technical skills were quite impressive. But those skills were overshadowed by their sexual innuendos. From the specific highlighted areas on their outfits to the rotating hips, sexuality was on full display.
The question many asked after the show was how could J.Lo and Shakira do this in the midst of the MeToo Movement? Don’t they realize that they aren’t empowering women?
That’s a question only they can truly answer but given their life’s work isn’t much different than what they performed, I’d say they weren’t considering their halftime show in light of MeToo. They were doing what they always do.
The question I’m most interested in is whether or not performances like this objectify women. The short answer: yes. If we are going to dress in a provocative manner and perform on a stage, any stage, then we are drawing attention to our bodies, the movement of them, and communicating something as a result. For those of us following Jesus, we know that we cannot and should not use our bodies in such a way that tempts anyone to sin. We want to do everything in our power to eliminate that temptation. Protecting those around us—as much as we can because we know that women can be objectified regardless of what is worn or what they do—is a part of loving our neighbor.
But what I struggle with is conflation of the MeToo Movement with a sexually charged halftime show. The MeToo Movement, from all accounts, is about men who have abused their power, not only objectifying women but also assaulting them. I so appreciate all of the desire to see women protected and honored and the MeToo comments regarding objectification of women and the halftime show as long as we never excuse men for taking advantage of women because of what she wears or doesn’t wear. Women don’t ask to be assaulted. Let’s be careful not to mix this up.
In saying this, I want to be clear: I am not saying that women have zero responsibility for their own bodies, what they wear, and how they act. What I am saying is that we should consider the wisdom of bringing in the MeToo Movement when addressing the music performances. There is a problem with our over sexualized society but that never is an excuse for abusers. No, sexual performances do not empower women. Yes, women should be mindful of what they do with their bodies. But, no, none of these things are invitations for sexual assault or abuse.