J. Lo and Shakira did a fantastic, stylized, powerful, s£xy Puerto-Rican pride-filled halftime show that showcased girls of color, asked them to raise their voices and gave them the spotlight. And all we can do is complain about their skimpy clothes, pole dancing and crotch shots?

America, 2020. Here we are again, telling women what they can and can’t do about their bodies and self-expression.  

Let’s break this down.  

Their show was amazing. No one seems to be disputing that except for people who claim it did them harm, like some podcaster dude trying to gain exposure by threatening a lawsuit. #seriously? 

Our Obsession with Violence Over S£xual Agency 

Once again, we have the violence and s£xuality dichotomy. It’s part of the fabric of puritanical USofA. 

Let me remind people who seem to have amnesia: Football is notoriously violent, causing permanent brain injuries so serious that there is an entire movement to ban high school football.  

If you forgot this because of what happened to your memory from playing football, you are forgiven.  

If you didn’t have that happen, let’s just remember that the NFL makes gazillions of dollars because we want to watch big grown men get knocked around like pinballs and human bumper cars, experiencing great physical pain and injury solely for our entertainment and patriotism.   

Once again, enter the battle of s£x and violence, where violence is totally okay to expose your children to, and sexy women are an affront to family values. Why is it okay to allow your kids to watch a very physical, often violent sport, but they can’t see a beautiful woman enjoying being in her body and her power without apology? 

The Unrelenting Double-Standards 

The vitriol over J. Lo and Shakira’s skimpy clothing and pole dancing points to a typical set of double-standards. Not to mention that the performance costumes the football cheerleaders wear is not so different. 

Last year Adam Levine ripped his shirt off, showing off his half-naked, tattooed body and I didn’t hear any harassment of him for it.  

But two Latina women wear outfits absolutely suited for professional dancing and a sparkly performance of this magnitude and they are slut-shamed and demeaned.

If that had been Taylor Swift or Gaga or other white women would the vitriol have been the same? No. Gaga did it, wearing her own version of skimpy power outfit a few years ago and the response was not to slut shame her. 

Then there was the cultural negativity and ignorance. This was a performance that absolutely celebrated Latin music and culture, and added a strong statement about the treatment of Latinx people in the U.S.  

Talking about two Latina performers as if their performance was inappropriate for the game is absurd. Some actually said we needed rock music only. They must have forgotten the long list of previous non-rock half-time performances that tore the roof off the stadium.  

Anything to keep women down, especially women of color. It shouldn’t surprise us since this is also a favorite American pastime: critique the women harshly and then pit them against each other.  

Zero-Sum Comparison 

The amount of needless comparison of the two is also beyond comprehension given they seemed absolutely supportive of one another and to be having the time of their lives.  

That’s how our capitalist culture keeps women totally insecure and ready to buy a slew of products to try to improve ourselves: compare us, get us to compete and feel completely powerless and inadequate.  

J. Lo and Shakira were not competing, they were two women supporting and lifting each other up. If we let it in, it inspires us when we see beauty in someone—it invites us into our own beauty and magic when we are blessed by someone else’s. 

These Hips Don’t Lie, But I’ll Tell You Who Does 

Then there is the notion of how we locate and claim harm to children. This is particularly insidious given that many of the people who are harshly criticizing J. Lo and Shakira are supporters of a president who has harmed women and girls.  

How do you look the other way when teenagers have claimed he raped them, when he said he can grab women by the pussy and walk in on young girls and young women while they are changing anytime he wants, when he said he just kisses women without their consent, when we have proof he cheated on his wives (plural), and when he calls the long list of women who have accused him of assaulting and harming them liars?  

The list of his affronts towards women is long and continues to grow. 

If you excuse that behavior and then think you can critique J. Lo’s outfit, what does that say about your values?  You support a predator, and yet you can throw venom at a woman in her own bodily agency and full expression.  

Women in their power and beauty harm no one. They lift us up. We each get to choose how we want to dress or what we want to do with our bodies and your way may be different, but you only move the proverbial pendulum back in time when you try to control how women get to dress and express themselves.  

We all get to make that choice.  

Update Your Software  

Memo: Pole dancing, in case you have missed it, has become it’s own art form. The pole is a tool and to dance with it requires immense strength, fitness and endurance. It’s beautiful.  

If it were Cirque du Soleil, it would make sense, so why can’t it make sense here? It’s no different from a bar used for gymnastics or any other tool used for performance. Yes it was once a tool used primarily in strip clubs and it has been out of that closet for a good decade now. Please update your software. 

Finally, and possibly most importantly, these women chose to share their stage with a choir of girls who got to shine with their idols and got to be seen by the world. J. Lo sang with her daughter and a whole group of girls, who also sat in egg shaped cages, bringing the issue of separating Latinx families at our borders this year front and center.  

The women’s symbol shown over the stage as they sang together, “Let’s get loud!”  

I will always support women in their power. It doesn’t need to look like I would do it. That’s the whole point. Choice. Agency. Empowerment. Self-Possession.  

More of that please.  

Let’s get loud. 

#SuperBowlHalftimeShow

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