I went to sleep the night of the Super Bowl, energized and joyful. I just witnessed two aging women perform their hearts out in one of the most fearless, grandiose displays of athleticism and sensualness while paying homage to Latin culture. It was sexy, it is energetic, and it was ALIVE. What a beautiful feeling to feel alive, to feel sensual, to feel empowered in this human experience. I Praise God everyday to be in this moment and to be able to feel this intensely about life.
Then I woke up…literally, (figuratively I am still enjoying the beauty and energy of that performance.)
I woke up beginning my day with my daily devotional and prayer time, and then I checked social media and it made me feel sad and very confused. It made me wonder what on earth is happening in some of these people’s lives that they take to social media and say angry, judgmental, hateful comments about a performance. It made me wonder if these people have ever had the experience of the ballet, theatre, modern dance, Opera, traveled and enjoyed multicultural celebrations in other countries, or even been to the Indian restaurant in town on belly dancing night? The antisexual backlash that transpired against these adult performing artists was vulgar, their performances were not.
I was also very unaware that every young child in America watched the Super Bowl, which of course became the battle cry of the puritanical yet beer guzzling outraged “What about the young children!” Wait, you watch the Super Bowl with young children? A 4 hour football game focused around the glorification of beer drinking with halftime shows that have included a wardrobe malfunction and Prince getting quite personal with his guitar? I know I did not let mine until 2 years ago and Super Bowl night she was in and out of the room doing homework, but I rejoiced in the opportunity to talk about discernment.
Two women who are performing artists (definition: artists who use their voices, bodies or instruments to convey artistic expression) and superstars performing in what has become a ‘Vegas-like’ halftime show get to be just that. Their outfits comparable to something you might see in Olympic ice skating, Dancing With the Stars, Cirque de Soleil, etc, JLo wearing an almost full body leotard and 2 layers of costumes at the beginning of the show. Discernment is knowing that what’s appropriate on stage is not appropriate in other walks of life. When I told that to my daughter, she looked at me kind of strange and said, “I KNOW that MOM, they are performers.” Ahhhhh the wisdom of a tween, they truly do know everything;)
If young children were allowed to watch, I guarantee they were watching their own parents’ reactions. It’s interesting what we find offensive and what we do not – we shout and yell at football players in front of our children, we cuss, we drink heavily during most sporting events, we drink throughout the week around our children, we gossip and judge and say awful things about other humans, we allow our tween boys to watch extremely violent movies, we allow our children to play Fortnite all day long, and we allow our children to do TikToks with explicit lyrics, but to applaud professional performing artists, Latin culture and athleticism…well that’s offensive.
Anger wants a voice, voices wanna sing; Singers harmonize till they can’t hear anything. -Harmony Hall by Vampire Weekend
What is alarming is the reactiveness to be so easily angered that in front of your children you might call someone you do not even know hateful, vulgar words. What is alarming is that you might in front of your children cast such judgement over adult women’s bodies that you leave your own child feeling strange about theirs or leave your child with those same feelings of body anger thus casting them on other girls their own age. What is alarming is that you would allow yourself to be so easily angered and reactive on social media instead of simply changing the channel. What is alarming is the lack of self control over the war happening in your head about a Super Bowl halftime show. What is alarming is the inability to identify the green-eyed monster, envy. In case you think envy is jealousy, it is not, it is one of the seven deadly sins and the definition is ‘feeling inferior to another.’ Feeling like another person possesses something you do not, and it challenges and corrodes our own feeling of self worth. It leads us to say awful things about another, it leads us to spread rumors and gossip about another, it leads us to backstab another. It is a truly ugly emotion that is far removed from God. The only way to combat envy is by understanding that God loves YOU for YOU. God doesn’t want you to be this or that celebrity, he wants YOU to be the BEST version of YOU, and that does not include being angry, judgmental, or cruel over a show.
Vulgarity is the ugliest word in our language. I stay in the game to fight it. -Coco Chanel
I saw a comment that America is ‘over sexualized.’ Far from it, if anything we are antisexual. We have a very hard time distinguishing between sexuality and vulgarity. Sexuality is a healthy part of being a human – to embrace yourself as a woman, a wife, a mother, an aunt, a caregiver, a worker, a creator, and a sexual being is part of a happy, healthy life. Yet the reality is that we are taught at a young age to coverup and hide our bodies, and that sex is bad unless you are married and trying to have a baby. Many American married couples do not even communicate about sex or achieve the level of trust to feel comfortable in their bare skin. A recent survey noted that only 48% of American adults were sexually satisfied, that’s compared to 90% of adults in Spain. We are a culture that is sexually repressive, the very reaction to the JLo and Shakira performance proves that. Repression has extremely negative connotations – it may lead to mental illness, unhealthy views towards sex, suicide, violent thoughts, and of course, sex trafficking.
Patriarchal man is shackled in an ideology in which sexual and dirty, sexual and vulgar become inseparable associations. -Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
This repressiveness becomes painfully obvious to me in my travels – American adults are repressed, depressed, and unhealthy. From the South of France to the island of Anguilla, I have witnessed an underlying feeling of happiness that seems to evade mainstream American culture. People in these places seem content, confident, joyful, deeply connected to God and nature, and have pride in their culture. The only thing that seems to offend them is a rainy day. It is a beautiful thing that I know exists here too, beneath the anger and the anxiety.
This is not the American experience I want for my child, one in which feelings of shame are born in the household. One in which anger or meanness are unapologetic actions; one in which we would rather our children watch violence than a female dancer in a leotard; one in which being sexy is synonymous with being a slut.
What JLo or Shakira do on stage is not important to your child, but what is important to your child is YOU. A parent who is present and having active conversations about growing up, not reactive, angry conversations on social media. A parent’s view of their own body impacts their children’s view of their body. The conversations we have or fail to have shape our children’s attitudes toward themselves, their bodies, and how they respect their bodies. When we are critical of the female form, name call, judge and are intolerant of sexuality, we teach our children to feel these ways toward themselves. Teaching that sex is dirty, vulgar, trashy, or not to be talked about permeates a negative connotation that is hard to outgrow. We are living proof of this.
On this final note, I think as a parent we have every right to censor what our children see, hence why our family does not watch much TV at all. I also think this is an opportunity to learn discernment, in my house we will not judge a professional performer for wearing a costume and dancing athletically and sensually, but we will be wearing dresses to Homecoming and Prom that hit at the knee or an inch above.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. -I Corinthians 13:4-5