Everyone’s got shit to say about the Super Bowl Half Time Show. Some of it was good. Thankfully.
But there were plenty of criticisms about Shakira and J.Lo during and immediately following the show. A show where they absolutely flawlessly nailed their performances, including singing, dancing, playing instruments, and weaving Feminist (Humanist?) themes throughout.
Most heard criticism on my feed: “40 and 50 year old women appearing way too sexy. Cover your kids’ eyes. That’s not family programming.”
Once upon a time, supposedly, women were the fairer sex. They were demure; they were softer, they were gentler. They were quieter. They were emotional, not physical. They were “ladylike” (the opposite of J.Lo’s “Let’s Get Loud” anthem). Maybe this made sense when men were out hunting dinner for their families and women tended to the babies, in caves. It doesn’t seem to align with what modern day asks of the human race.
But the most dangerous problem with outmoded stereotypes is they feel comfortable, even if they are actually uncomfortable. We understand them. Our brain has laid a neural pathway to make sense of it, when we see it a second time. So those who have traditional values hold on tight to those values. It’s working for them.
Then we’ve got the folks, like myself, who the stereotypes DON’T work for. You know – athletes, tom boys, women of color, women who code, non-binary gender identifying, the loud mouths, the assertive leaders, women with cultural values that didn’t descend from Puritans, highly sexual women, and anyone who rejects this preposterous preconceived notion of what a woman should be.
Another criticism from a possibly opposing camp: “I just wish they’d chosen to show their talent without using their sexuality for the pleasure of men. This isn’t good for the women’s movement.”
Here’s a wild notion that doesn’t fit with our patriarchal pre-programmed thinking (yes even us feminists fall pray to it b/c we were raised in it)… maybe J.Lo wasn’t performing for the benefit of men. Or even for others? Maybe she was doing her thing, for herself? She’s certainly old enough to recognize the diminishing returns of trying to please a fickle world.
We’ve come a long way, yet we’re still figuring out who we want to be, as a female gender and as individuals. Should we eschew all traditionally feminine qualities? That got women a bit farther in corporate America in the 80s & 90s, when it was the only way to get in and fit in. Yep, those business suits were not super flattering for women. Thankfully we’ve come a bit further in the business fashion department. How about our business values though? What about collaboration, which has traditionally been touted as a more female skill (vs competition in men)? What about intuition/instinct & emotional intelligence, which are now being lauded by science as critical to big decision making?
And female sexuality is still a bomb many of us refuse to touch. Where does it fit within the definition of a modern-day woman, who doesn’t want to be defined purely by her sex or sexuality. But we’re undeniably sexual beings. Should we show a little? To what end? Because it makes us feel confident? Because we’ll be perceived as attractive? Strong and sexy…That’s good, right? Most of us aren’t entirely sure.
There’s this crazy new concept floating around out there that each woman can be exactly and uniquely who she is.
I want to wear “boyfriend” jeans and a cardigan sweater …and I also want to rock sharp ass high heels some days.
I want to be overly emotional and overly analytical.
I want to be an empathetic listener to friends and clients, and I also want to be an action oriented risk taker in my work and life.
I want to be fun and serious.
I want the choice to have it all, but not DO it all.
If we can’t make room for a Latina woman, a sexy woman, an older woman, a mom …on our stages … then there also isn’t room for a female scientist, a female senator, or a female engineer.
Women need women egregiously pushing boundaries in all spaces. This includes J.Lo grabbing her crotch, as unappealing as that may be to some.
And we’re gonna need to support each other – including our differences – if we truly want to make substantial change on behalf of women.
My assertion is to all women is this: Be you. Fabulously you. Whatever form that takes.
J.Lo has and will always equal provocative clothing, tons of talent, and jaw dropping (timeless) good looks. You don’t need to be J.Lo. (although I’d like her personal chef and trainer to come to my house every day!).
You just need to be You.
As fellow pop singer, Rihanna, sings, “People gonna talk whether you’re doing bad or good.” So F it.