Did you watch Sunday’s Super Bowl half-time show? I’ll bet if you didn’t see it live you watched at least a portion of it later on YouTube or some other social media site because LOTS of people were talking about it immediately afterwards and on Monday morning it was hard to ignore.
I was dismayed by the whole thing. Where to start? Jennifer Lopez’s pole dancing? Shakira’s gyrations? Both of them scantily dressed? Men in S&M gear? The uninspired lyrics for the music? (Not that anyone is listening. That’s not the point). The little girls coming on stage at the end, in all their beautiful, unsullied innocence sharing the stage with what could be described as one long ‘exotic dance’? I don’t know.
I guess in my old age I’ve become a prude. Or maybe I’ve just become more in tune with the gift that our bodies are and believe that we should honor every human being’s body, including our own.
And then don’t get me started on the the objectifying of women in general. Remember when the women’s movement declared that we are not just ‘play things’ for men to enjoy with little concern for our well-being? Remember when most women who were doing the equivalent of pole dancing a few decades ago were doing it out of desperation? They needed money to support themselves and probably a child or two because some deadbeat husband or boyfriend had left these women destitute. Or they’d left home (parents’ or their own) because of some sort of intolerable abusive situation. Women had to often take desperate action to take care of themselves and their children. Displaying their bodies for anonymous men’s amusement was a degradation in the eyes of many if not most people. Nowadays, extremely wealthy women are celebrated for this behavior.
I am the first to say that our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of and we should not be forced to hide under a tent like dress to hide our form and sexuality. I also believe that our sexuality is a God-given gift. But I don’t believe anyone should share so much of their physical form and then move around suggestively at the same time and call that family entertainment. That’s more for private viewing, between a husband and wife, say…
It makes me sad that some people, particularly some women, were proclaiming that it was a great example of “women’s empowerment.” That is not what empowerment looks like. And it’s certainly not women’s equality. If we ever want to be seen as equals to men, we need to be taken seriously for our thoughtful, well expressed ideas and opinions, for our knowledge or our professionalism in any field, or just for being decent, critical thinking people. At the very least, for parity’s sake, we ought to see more male entertainers dressed in their underwear as they sing and dance around on stage. Because we rarely do. Oh, you might see women dressed like JLo and Shakira, et al, dancing on stage with their male counterparts. But a male performer will be covered from head to toe. Heck, he may even have sunglasses on with that baseball cap or whatever head covering he decides, along with his baggy clothes. You can’t see much of his form at all. Why is that OK?
What are we showing our sons and daughters? Not anything good. I read that one twitter personality said these women on Sunday ‘are what they are,’ and should not consider themselves the new Susan B. Anthony. It would be funny if it weren’t so depressing to realize that our culture is holding up the women performers on Sunday as the 21st Century’s suffragettes. We have the right to vote, alright. But women of virtue and courage suffered mightily and endured all manner of degradation to try to ensure that women could be treated and seen as equal to any man.
Today we have what we saw on Sunday. You know what, ladies? There are a lot of men laughing because women think they are empowered by their antics on stage. Empowered? You are little more than a sexual fantasy. There is no substance there. There is no respect for you as a whole person. A woman dancing on that stage, in that tiny getup, is nothing more than the body parts that titillate men.
I am not condemning the people involved in Sunday’s half-time show. And I cannot judge them as that is not my role. But I can point out the problems as I see them with such a display during a time when families are watching this worldwide event together. And I get to lament what I see as a downward spiral in the way women are regarded by some men. It’s never ‘all’ women and it’s never ‘all men.’ But it is enough of each that it makes male-female relationships built on mutual respect harder to achieve. And, as a Christian, it saddens me that more people don’t realize that such behavior on any stage is sort of a degradation of the human being.
Where’s the honor due her for her sacred personhood? Where’s the respect for her temple of the Holy Spirit (that’s her body)? I don’t know for sure, but the Holy Spirit may have left the building. Of course, every one of us can get that Spirit back. As the grandmother of two amazing little girls and one grandson, I don’t want to think that they will learn that this is a good way for women to get attention and be lauded by the public for that behavior.
I want to think that they will be revered for their minds, their spirits, their thoughts, and just for the dignity that everyone is due because they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of their Creator God. Galatians 3:28 says that in Christ there is no “male nor female” for all are one in Him. There is the great equalizer. This is where we are all empowered: in Christ, in the God who made us in “the image and likeness of God” and who unconditionally loves us more than we can ever comprehend.