Supporting Women: Whenever, Wherever

Well, except here. And maybe there. Am I right, ladies?

As a warning, this will absolutely be a stream of consciousness post as I don’t have time to deeply reflect on my overwhelming sense of conflict after watching all of this social media feedback on the Super Bowl 2020 Halftime Show. First off, I recognize that an entertainment spectacle should likely not be anything that can muster true internal conflict, but alas, here we are. And here I am. Conflicted. Over a halftime show. Secondly, it’s pretty disappointing.

Disappointing. Not the performance. The response.

I woke up this morning finding out that the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. Good for them! I watched not a stitch of the game. I will spend the next few days getting caught up on the commercials and, had it not been for my Facebook feed this morning, I probably wouldn’t have caught up with the halftime show for at least another 24-48 hours. Basically, with Prince gone, if it’s not Justin Timberlake or a blast-from-the-past-revival featuring Duran Duran, I’m not watching anything on a Sunday evening live. But my Facebook feed at 0′-dark-thirty this morning… Just ugh.

As one middle-aged white woman to a slew of others – what in the world is with the disgust, disappointment and outrage over Shakira and J Lo’s performance last night. All I read about was a crotch-grab here, indecent exposure there, pole-dancing and ‘disgusting’ gyrations. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN? asked on heavy rotation.

And don’t get me started on the sprinkling of ‘I didn’t even understand the words!’ nonsense. I mean, we all see through that, right? I’m not even addressing that one.

So…what about the children? How do I explain this to my children? I regret allowing my children to watch the show? As a mom of two fairly young’ns, it’s a big whatever from me. As a mom who personally cut her teeth on attending Mardi Gras as an infant through adulthood, I assure you, watching an artistic performance builds tolerance and respect for others – hard stop. Experiencing how other people live their lives, no matter how unsavory (read: Bourbon Street on Fat Tuesday), teaches that unique is OK. How do you explain the dance moves? Well, first off, please watch The Birdcage. All I’m hearing is Agador.

So I found the full halftime show to get the skinny on the outrage. After watching, my first thought was, “How can anyone not appreciate and respect every single shimmy that occurred on that stage?” The stamina, athletics, moves. It was girl power meets Miami Sound Machine meets sheer talent. Frankly, my kids have seen more skin and innuendo while watching The Spirit of Aloha show at the Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World. More skin, more innuendo and – aside from the five minutes of fire-twirling – literally zero depth or true cultural appreciation. Both women covered head to toe with costume. Both women all performance flash and dazzle. Yes, the men in supportive roles suited up in multiple layers as – hello? – they were not the focal point, the stars, the lead actors. Let the women hold the spotlight.

What cut me the deepest? Most of the bashing and ‘inappropriate’ teetotalers, were my liberal ladies. Those whose every other meme and post fervently touts tolerance and support and gender equality. Yet the biggest shared response was regret and eye-shielding and complete hand-wringing at how to explain the performance to their children. I feel certain these same outraged friends when faced with traditional African dancers – topless and leaf-skirted – would embrace the culture and ooh and aah over the National Geographic of it all. IT’S THE SAME THING, just different cultures. Teach your children that sexual and emboldened does not equate to powerless and victim. There is STRENGTH in every one of our female facets. Pride. Respect. Honor. What I witnessed was rhythm, soul, heart and fire. Women are allowed to be powerful and bold.

As I try and increase women in leadership roles in IT…help don’t hinder. Please don’t denigrate ANY women based on your lack of understanding or experience. And certainly don’t raise your children to fear or abhor different cultures or displays of art. Rather than expressing outrage over a rock-solid, female-driven, culturally pnwed performance, think instead about the mixed-message labels your mind is fabricating to make you feel uncomfortable. Take a salsa class, visit Miami after dark, travel, actually experience the message behind your memes.

Meanwhile I’ll continue to work on my inner battles involving jealously, insecurity and self-loathing. I’ve spent a lifetime carrying baggage that might position me perfectly to outwardly seethe at J Lo and Shakira’s performance, but I’ll be damned if I allow my weakness-cycles to repeat in my children. I will be the example, cheering on another’s bright light despite my bulb being significantly dim in that particular comparison because I appreciate TALENT.

Now I’m rambling. But when I think about all the external-to-my-family things that are important to me – equality, the upcoming election, grace, empathy and more – I’m starting to see a pattern here in why women continue to be less represented in a nation where literally more than half of us – 50.8% – are, in fact, women. It’s not at the hands of male suppression. We’re doing it to ourselves. By consistently disparaging and marginalizing women who are ‘different’ than us. By looking ridiculous in our nonsensical, conflicting stances. By criticizing others in an (always unsuccessful) attempt to elevate ourselves. Let’s work on that, shall we? Let’s make some internal changes in early 2020 to empower larger scale external changes every moment thereafter.

And for the love of it, can I please be J Lo when I grow up?