Sex, Shame, and the Superbowl

There was something very wrong about the Beyonce act during half-time of the Super Bowl

It’s shameful that advertisers and choreographers are so dull, so uncreative, so tired, that performing a striptease is the only move they can think of to appeal to viewers. It’s shameful that porn and stripping are such quietly lucrative industries that market researchers are eyeing their profits and saying, “Yes, this is what people want for their money, for their entertainment.”


There was something very wrong about the Beyonce act during half-time of the Super Bowl. The thing that was wrong about it was also wrong with a commercial that aired several times during the bowl for a show called Two Broke Girls that featured the main characters of that show performing a striptease, with a pole, licking icing off their fingers, etc. It was also wrong with a “Go-Daddy” commercial in which the model Bar Rafeali, represented the “sexy” side of the business, and a chubby, hirsute male represented the geeky side, or “brains” of the business (the two sides then engage in the most disgusting kiss ever committed to film).

Calah at Barefoot and Pregnant [Editor’s note: the original URL (link) referenced is no longer valid, so the link has been removed.], has written a very good post called “Slut-shaming and the Attractiveness Factor” about how we should not judge Beyonce’s performance, and women/girls in general, on whether or not we find their behaviors “attractive” or sexy, but rather we should judge the objective morality or immorality of those behaviors:

I do not want my daughter to grow up in a world where the boys and men around her constantly judge her morality in terms of physical attraction. I don’t want her to hear things like, “waiting till marriage is sexy” or “it’s a turn-off when girls smoke”. I want her to hear things like, “your virtue is worth too much to throw away on someone who is not going to commit his life to you.” I want her to hear someone say, “smoking damages your body, and you’re too precious to damage for recreation.” I want her to grow up in a world where men and women talk about issues of virtue and modesty in terms of objective truth, not in terms of sex appeal.”

Calah is absolutely right that women/girls shouldn’t be threatened into virtue at risk of appearing unattractive to men. Not only does it provide little impetus for good behavior, it is also a poor school of virtue for girls.
Performing a strip-tease for an international audience that includes millions of people is not wrong because the gal doing it might be deemed “unattractive,” but because it violates a host of other virtues. It’s a very good point that needs to be made again and again.

Calah also brilliantly points out that if the only reason to behave well is to appear attractive for men, then appearing attractive is also probably a good reason to behave badly, which is why, we might assume, Beyonce’s act played as it did–so that she might appear attractive to the mostly male viewership of the Superbowl.

And yet, there was something terribly unattractive about her show.

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