Although I am a football fan, this isn’t going to be a sports post. Last night’s game was surprising and exciting in many ways — Har-brothers?! Jacoby Jones?! Blackout?! 3 TD comeback?! — but what I want to talk about today are the commercials. And Beyonce’s halftime show. And the way we perceive each of those things.
Basically I was monitoring Twitter the whole night, and aside from superb owls and Puppy Bowl, I noticed a lot of chatter about various ads. More so than the game, in fact. And a lot of this chatter was focused on girls and women.
There was the good…
And there was the not-so-good…
Which made me wonder…
Here are video and pics from Beyonce’s performance, if you missed it.
To be clear: I like her, I like her music, and as a Houston girl, I’m practically required to like Destiny’s Child. My liking the halftime show is not the issue.
Instead, I’m trying to examine why so many folks were unhappy with the way GoDaddy (for example) portrayed a woman’s sexuality, but then cheered for Beyonce’s parading of her own. Why does one stand for misogyny and the other for “girl power”? Is an attractive woman French-kissing a nerdy guy more provocative (offensive?) than an attractive woman dancing in a black leather leotard?
A few friends offered responses to my inquiry — though none of us were trying to claim our comments as definitive answers:
Personally, here’s what I think it comes down to:
Restated for emphasis: Who defines “sexy”?
In other words, did Beyonce decide that 4″ heels, lace, and long wild hair were sexy? Or did she absorb that definition from the male-dominated society she grew up in? (Note: It’s entirely possible that the answer may be both.) While her lyrics boast of “independent women” and “single ladies,” was she gyrating her hips to model sexual empowerment for us? Or to excite the thousands of men watching in the stadium, and millions more on TV? (Again, the answer may be both.)
I don’t ask these questions to make or start an argument. I simply want to examine the issue. And I’m curious, what do y’all think?
PS: As I was finishing up this post, Karen (@TLT16) sent me a link that underscores the importance of asking ourselves these questions, because the work of feminism is not done by a long shot, perhaps especially not when it comes to the world of sports.