Within seconds of Shakira and J.Lo taking the stage for their Super Bowl halftime performance, social media exploded with derogatory rants about two of the most powerful female performers in the world. Many people were enraged by the provocative dancing and minimal clothing. As a mom with two very young daughters who used to work in the human rights field, I should have been outraged, but want to know the truth? It did not bother me at all!
In the same week that people canonized Kobe Bryant, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez were lambasted for jumping on a pole and shaking their impressively toned glutes during a fiery halftime show that has brilliantly engendered passionate discussions about both politics and gender equality.
There are currently 60 million Latinos – and growing – in the United States and Sunday’s performance marked the first time that Latino women headlined the halftime show, but since we’re on the subject of Kobe Bryant and idolizing athletes, do you know hard it is to pole dance? I went to a class once in 2008 for a bachelorette party and I left a sweaty mess never to return again. It’s insanely difficult, but J.Lo made it look easy! Shakira and J.Lo are incredible athletes (yes, athletes!) and the amount of discipline and hard work that went into pulling off a performance of that caliber should be an inspiration for everyone. Jennifer Lopez is 50-years-old. I am squatting as I write this piece in the hopes that my derrière is half as impressive when I’m her age!
There has been a lot of talk about the effect of such a performance on our little ones. What exactly – out of the entire sport of football – do we find so offensive about that performance? I love watching football – love, love, love football – but football players as a whole aren’t exactly known for being choir boys. Many high-profile players have faced lengthy suspensions, penalties or jail time for domestic violence, sexual violence, drugs, physical assault, and other serious offenses. There has been more than one NFL player convicted of murder. It can also be a brutal game – and one in which there are currently no professional female football players – so as a sport, I’m not exactly looking to football as my benchmark for female empowerment. Shakira’s booty, conversely, doesn’t particularly bother me when watching football.
Taking a step back from the actual performance, Shakira and J.Lo are pretty impressive #MomBosses with two children each. Lopez is a sexual violence survivor with an extensive philanthropic resume who disclosed her experience with sexual harassment as part of the #MeToo movement and the Time’s Up movement. Shakira is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador who has tirelessly worked to provide education to underprivileged children throughout the world. Shakira and J.Lo are two of the richest and most influential women in the world and these women are paving the way for a future generation of women to kick butt and take names on their own terms.
Was their performance sexual? Perhaps, but so was Adam Levine’s last year. Was their performance politically provocative? Possibly, but isn’t a healthy political debate a good thing in an election year? Women disparaging one another are beyond disappointing, so let’s all collectively release the clutch on our pearls and the pitchforks in our hands to embrace this powerful performance.