“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.”
Yes, I turned it off and I was embarrassed that I didn't do so sooner. Almost as soon as the half-time show started during the Super bowl yesterday, the conversation turned from football to the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" from the half time show by Janet Jackson many years ago; the jokes began to fly about wardrobe inspectors and so on. Soon the jokes stopped and the room grew silent as the half time show by Shakira and J Lo became more and more provocative, sensual, and overtly sexual. It was when my wife began to ask for the channel to be changed that I responded and did indeed turn the channel. I kept wanting to think it couldn't get any worse, but it did until I could no long wait.
Since then I have been involved in some conversation online about the half time show. Many claim it was cultural and that being a white cisgender male limits my understanding. Perhaps so, but it doesn't mean I don't understand anything or that I have no valid take on what I saw and what my wife asked me to turn off. Even many Christians with whom I interacted defended the indefensible half-time show. Those conversations and comments require a more thoughtful response which I will offer here.
First, the fact that something is cultural does not mean it cannot be critiqued. Let's just say for a moment that every aspect of the half-time show that I thought was inappropriate had its roots in Latino culture. That doesn't mean that aspect of that culture is good and positive simply because it is "cultural." For instance, have you ever heard the term "rape culture?" If you haven't, you haven't been paying attention. The term suggests that there is an aspect to our culture where rape seems to be acceptable, but the term is never used in an endearing manner or to defend rape, it is used to condemn a culture that seems to accept rape as something that on some level is acceptable. We can and should condemn some aspects of every culture. "It's cultural" is not a defense, at best it is an excuse!
Second, just because you have it doesn't mean you should flaunt it. You've hear the phrase, no doubt, "if you have it flaunt it." This is not a good and positive statement. Flaunting it is, by definition, asking for people to notice. When women "flaunt it" they are inviting sexual thought and intentionally seeking that kind of attention. No, that doesn't excuse assault or excuse men who might have inappropriate thoughts. BUT, that is not an argument (at least not a good one) for intentionally dressing in a way that intentionally provokes such thought and is by its very nature the intentional manipulation of natural desires. Men are responsible for controlling those natural desires, but women are responsible to not provoke and manipulate those desires as well. We are all responsible for uplifting one another and encouraging one another towards human flourishing. That is not what happened at half-time yesterday.
Third, we should behave in a way that values women, not in a way that objectifies them. Women rightly complain when they are objectified and yet, in the broader culture many of those same women insist on behaving in a way that encourages that very objectification. It isn't only up to men to stop objectifying women, it is also up to women to stop behaving in a way that encourages that objectification. Of course many will find this offensive, by I frankly don't care. My mom taught me that if I wanted to be respected I needed to behave respectably. If women behave in a way that does not encourage men to objectify them and men do it anyway, then the man is 100% responsible. If the woman encourages objectification, then she no longer has the right to complain about it. Much more could be said, here (and probably should be said); this is a culture wide epidemic.
The half-time show objectified women and stirred the desires of men and I suppose some women in inappropriate ways. Not only was I offended, but my wife was offended and so were many people who were at my house watching the game. The argument that "it was cultural" isn't the same as saying "it was virtuous." Those are very different things.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.