Did you watch the Super Bowl Halftime show with your kids?
I’m wondering at what point my football-loving readers sent their kids out of the room and at what point they joined them in the kitchen. Before or after the almost-naked lady clambered up the stripper pole?
I’m also wondering what women readers my age—a little older than Shakira and a little younger than Jennifer Lopez—thought of the whole spectacle and what might induce us to put on red satin, black leather, or silver-sparkle underwear and flash our crotches at 99 million people.
Twitter seems divided between those who admire Jennifer Lopez and Shakira for putting on such an athletic display at their age, and those who were disgusted by the “racy burlesque show” as CNA’s JD Flynn accurately called it.
I’m also dismayed that grown-up ladies dancing in their underwear or flesh-colored body-stockings is still fashionable 35 years after Madonna Ciccone’s “Open Your Heart” video. Has there been no progress?
It’s disconcerting that, 51 years after women in miniskirts served on the U.S.S. Enterprise alongside men in heavy trousers, that female entertainers still wear tiny costumes alongside men dressed head to toe in sports clothes.
The nadir of Shakira’s own breast-bouncing, hip-shaking, crotch-flashing performance may have been when, at the approach of a man wearing a voluminous silver costume, she sank to the floor and wriggled at his feet. It was either that or when she was embraced from behind by two separate pairs of male hands, two on her hips, and two just above her waist.
I’m hoping your kids were out of the room by then. If they were, they missed J.Lo at the top of a small Empire State Building dressed in a black leather bodysuit and a big piece of pink fabric. She cast the fabric aside to show off her black leather covered crotch. I’m not au courant with the latest fashions, but the new rule may be that if her breasts are covered, a singer must draw attention to her crotch. J.Lo pointed to hers three times before she stripped down to her sparkly naked-suit and headed for the pole.
Let us skip lightly over the sight of scantily clad men and women writhing at the foot of J.Lo’s pole―and the underwear-clad girls performing on other poles as fully-dressed men took to the stage―and think of the children. For, yes, there were also children, little girls performing on stage and in cages, wearing white lace shorts. There followed a chorus of “Born in the USA”―and I’ll stop there. (The whole thing ended with J.Lo and Shakira shaking their bottoms at their audience, but you’ll have guessed that.)
What does it mean for a girl to be born in the USA? It means looking up to successful, popular, influential women in American society for clues to how to be women. Girls want to be loved and admired, and Shakira and J.Lo are certainly loved and admired by many. They’ve sold millions of records, made millions of dollars, and have millions of fans. They’ve also been loved by handsome, famous men. If the girls read Twitter, they will see that J.Lo is particularly admired today, not for her singing or musicianship, but for putting on that sexy show at the age of 50. I wonder if the girls will stop and wonder if that’s something worthy of admiration, or if sexually provocative dancing usually brings happiness in its wake.
Beyond the obvious crotch-flashing, which I’m praying has not caught on in American clubs and school dances, I was particularly disturbed by Lopez’ and her back-up dancers’ use of stripper poles. Despite the avowals of Women’s Studies majors who strip to pay their way through college, stripping is a terrible, dispiriting profession, rife with prostitution and drug abuse. Nevertheless, its proven ability to hold male attention has appealed to lonely women who want male attention themselves.
One of the saddest stories I’ve ever heard about Catholics trying to find love involved a young Boston College student who met a young lady who invited him home. Thinking a nice conversation was on the cards, the young man was surprised to discover a stripper pole in the young lady’s living room. She offered to perform for him and did. He told this story later to his mentor, a friend of mine, who asked him how he had felt about it. He said he didn’t know. This and other stories of adolescent confusion led my friend to give her philosophy students an unusual assignment: to go out on actual, old-fashioned dates. Thanks to sex-saturated popular culture, her born-in-the-USA students don’t know how to do courtship anymore.
This professor, by the way, is one of the best women I ever met, a woman of great friendliness but also dignity and self-respect. Whether or not they give birth, women are called to be mothers to the young, to be good examples and to help shepherd them to happiness. I don’t think that’s what Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were doing on Sunday afternoon.
“Hey @NFL, our kids watch football. We all watch football,” tweeted JD Flynn. “Please, stop doing this.”
I’ll go further than Flynn. Please, J.Lo, Shakira, and other influential women that girls look up to: please stop doing this. Stop pretending sexual exhibitionism is a fun and harmless path towards happiness.
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