Moments after the halftime show ended, social media blew up about Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s (apparently) polarizing halftime performance. As with any performance, there will be those who love it and those who don’t, but what was most surprising about this controversy was not how far we need to come in order to elevate women to equal status in our country, but the fact that it was women who were holding other women back.
Because it was sexy.
Droves of women claimed that that JLo and Shakira’s halftime show was offensive, not appropriate, that it set the women’s movement back fifty years, that it was tasteless, and showed women in a bad light. It was women who ignored the talent of the dancers, of the pole artists, musicians, costumes, lighting and set designers, or choreographers and summarily dismissed the value of the entire show.
Because it was sexy.
If women want to be equal to men, to have sovereignty and control over their bodies, minds, and lives, they need to be free to be overtly sexy, to push squarely into outdated stereotypes, labels, and judgments about women. And they need the support of other women in that endeavor.
When women judge and shame themselves or others for being overtly sexual – or fat or frumpy or whatever – what they are really saying is this:
The patriarchy is right.
Your value is dependent on what you wear (or don’t wear). Your worth is based on your chastity and modesty. You can’t like or show yourself as a sexual being. I have the right to tell you when to be sexy, when to be conservative, and what you will and will not like.
I refuse to see you for your skills, talents, gifts, or ideas unless you dress, look and act in a way that pleases me. If you want to play in my world, you better conform to my idea of what you should or should not do. Because I can control you with my judgment. And I can recruit others to help me control you.
Because you are not fully human. You are only free to do that which I say you are free to do. If you fail to obey, I can recruit others to help me control you. I can have you fired. I can publically shame and judge you. I can take your children. I can control all that you are, because you are nothing.
Like an abusive or narcissistic partner who gaslights, lies to your friends and family, and turns your own support system against you, making you believe that you are the one who is crazy, so too has the patriarchy divided women against one another for its own benefit. And to womens’ collective detriment.
Here’s an invitation to think about the half-time show from a fully empowered lens.
Women (humans) are multi-faceted beings who can choose to highlight any facet of who they are at any time, knowing that what they wear or how they move has no impact on their skills, abilities, value or worth.
Women (humans) can try any form of athletics that they want to try or learn despite the prevailing view of said sport, and participation in that sport does not change who they are inside.
Women (humans) have a wide range of talents, skills, and abilities and those talents, skills, and abilities should be judged on their own merits instead of on others personal preconceptions about women.
Women (humans) nurture and love, wound and destroy. Women (humans) are fat and thin, old and young, fancy or plain. And they can be all of these things at the same time.
JLo and Shakira’s halftime show was a fantastic display of feminist power because it pushed into traditional female stereotypes and dared us as women to defy them.
It pointed out our collective and deep-seated belief that female stereotypes are in fact real, as well as our bias against women who dare to burst through those stereotypes. Especially stereotypes about womens’ sexuality.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira dared to show us that women can have talent and be sexy.
That women can be “old” and sexy.
That women can be quality human beings, great friends, business women, partners, parents, and still be sexy.
Are you adopting the collective biases as your own?
What about you? What biases did this halftime performance bring up for you? If it offended, what was the belief that it pushed against? That women shouldn’t act like that? Why shouldn’t they? Ask yourself why and then sit with that answer.
Of course you don’t have to love their performance. Just challenge yourself to look within and see what it was it about the performance that made you not like it, that made you think it was against women or inappropriate. What female stereotypes have you bought into that were challenged by performance? And most importantly, how can you stand in solidarity with women everywhere, encouraging their autonomy and control over their own bodies, minds, lives, outfits, choices, and dance moves?
Because until we come together as women, vigilantly defending the rights of our sisters to be exactly who they are (no matter if that’s how we choose to show up) in defiance of any stereotype that they choose to defy, none of us will ever truly be free.
Lora Cheadle, former attorney, author of FLAUNT! Drop Your Cover and Reveal Your Smart, Sexy & Spiritual Self on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or wherever books are sold, and Life Choreographer® is a transformational thought leader and media personality who empowers women to stand up, be seen, and gracefully take control of their success and happiness, despite external circumstances. By cultivating a sense of Naked Self-Worth®, which is the ability to show up confidently and comfortably in all facets of one’s life as they are, not as they think they should be, women discover that who they are right now is more than enough. Creator of FLAUNT! and Find Your Sparkle coaching programs, workshops, and destination retreats, she has worked with women worldwide to reveal their smart, sexy, and spiritual selves in all that they do, so they can fall deeply in love with themselves and passionately enjoy the lives they have worked so hard to create. An avid traveler and seeker of all things magical, glittery and fun, Lora dances burlesques under the name, Chakra Tease, a tribute to her favorite philosopher. Believing that “Life’s a Dance!” she inspires others to stand up and choreograph their own life, instead of letting someone else choreograph it for them. Her book FLAUNT! Drop Your Cover and Reveal Your Smart, Sexy, & Spiritual Self is available wherever books are sold, and you can listen to her podcast, learn more about her, or download your FREE copy of “15 Ways to FLAUNT! TODAY” at www.loracheadle.com. She lives in Colorado with her husband and has two amazing sons in college.