In an interview before the Super Bowl, Jennifer Lopez told reporters that the opportunity for two Latinas to host the halftime show was “empowering.” What she didn’t mention is that her routine would include a strip pole performance using skills she clearly learned from her well-received role as a stripper in the movie Hustlers. In the end, the performance had nothing to do with empowerment and everything to do with encouraging the male audience to objectify women.
This latest Super Bowl is perhaps the most sexualized performance since the 2004 infamous Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson halftime show with the “nipplegate” incident, which coined the term “wardrobe malfunction.” Ever since, the Super Bowl has gone out of its way to try and minimize the possibility of another overly sexualized performance. Apparently, that effort has officially ended.
The halftime show started with Shakira, a Colombian singer and dancer who is known for her linguistic and belly dancing skills. Her performance, which did have some sexually suggestive dance moves, paled in comparison to Jennifer Lopez’s set.
Lopez, who’s most recent movie role was as a stripper who robbed men in Hustlers, started her set basically showing off the pole dancing skills that she learned in the movie. She pranced around on stage in an outfit that left little to the imagination, and at times grabbed her crotch, in a move reminiscent of Michael Jackson, and gave the audience crotch/booty shots.
It was highly sexualized, inappropriate and in no way empowering, but it isn’t surprising as some women embrace the belief that empowerment is found through accepting and showing off the female figure. There is some wisdom in the idea that we need to accept people of all different sizes, shapes and skin tones. However, gyrating onstage in a see-through outfit with strategically placed silver details that cover your modesty while pole dancing is a rather terrible idea that only encourages the male objectification of women.
It’s a very female driven perspective, and a trap that a lot of women fall into.
As women, we’re aware that certain outfits will capture a man’s attention and encourage him, in a way, to sexualize our bodies but then would get mad at men when they do. It could be said that Lopez’s performance was about telling the audience, specifically men, to check out how great and sexy she looks at 50 but would chew them out if they focused on her pole dancing and didn’t appreciate her singing.
Her performance is also in juxtaposition to the reality that the Super Bowl attracts a lot of sex trafficking operations. Women, some of whom might have been or are pole dancers at one point, were selling themselves or being sold by pimps to men for money at the very event where Lopez showed off her “stripper” skills.
The sex industry, despite what some ill-informed people may say, is a practice that thrives on the exploitation and degradation of women. That Lopez took the stage to essentially advocate for the sex business encourages the abuse of women by men.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating femininity, but it shouldn’t require wearing next to nothing to do so.