What Alyssa Rosenberg seems to have seen!

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2020

We thought we saw it too:
Long ago and far away—this may take us back to the late 1980s!—we sat before a TV set with a young relative who was, as the memory flies, something like 8 years old.

Skanky MTV videos were on. The message concerning the role of young women was blindingly obvious. We recall feeling sorry for our young relative, for the messaging being delivered to her at such a young age.

If her brother had been there, we would have felt sorry for him as well. On the brighter side, skanky producers and skanky "artists" were lining their pockets with cash.

On Sunday evening, the Washington Post's Alyssa Rosenberg seems to have had a similar reaction to the Super Bowl halftime show. When yesterday's column appeared, we'd also say that she seemed to be trying to say a good deal less than what she actually thought:
ROSENBERG (2/3/20): The show, starring Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, was intended to accomplish a number of things: to boost the National Football League’s lagging Latino viewership, to nod to Miami’s Latino cultural traditions and to provide a spectacle more engaging than last year’s wholly generic performance by Maroon 5. The two Latina headliners sparked conversations about everything from the role of zaghrouta in Arabic cultures to Puerto Rico’s essential Americanness.

But one debate overshadowed the rest: whether Shakira and Lopez had dominated the stage—or been demeaned by a show that was undeniably sexy.

[...]

J-Lo entered the stage on a stripper pole, wearing leather chaps that gave way to a bedazzled, barely there bodysuit, while Shakira’s already tiny outfit shrank as the night went on. But the singers had to navigate more than quick costume changes and shifting sets: They were performing their way through a thorny set of norms.
Rosenberg gave us two choices. Had the two women "dominated the stage?" Or had they "been demeaned" by the show, in which one of them entered the stage on a stripper pole?

Is a third choice possible? Did the two women present a misogynist-leaning spectacle, increasing their fame as they did? Or is it simply all in good fun to "enter the stage on a pole?"

(Opinions on that may differ.)

Rosenberg implies that Lopez may have been demeaned by the show, not that she may have demeaned herself and worked against the best interests of women and children and men. Has progressive sexual politics possibly slid a couple of steps steps when that third possibility can't even be voiced at this point?

Presumably, this is the part, later on in the column, where we possibly find the two women being demeaned—demeaned by Fox, no less:
ROSENBERG: Shakira’s and J-Lo’s costumes stayed firmly in place. But Fox seemed determine to remove all mystery anyway, aiming cameras at their crotches so frequently that I actually lost count. The network’s fixation seemed to take inspiration from Bruce Springsteen’s fly-first slide at the camera during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2009. Then, Springsteen’s sudden genital takeover of America’s television screens felt like a boyish act of exuberance. This time, Fox’s crotch fixation brought on a case of mild moral panic.
Did the two women in question not know that their crotches were going to be featured in that way? Putting it another way, do Shakira and Lopez lack agency?

There was a time when feminism would have seen this show for what it possibly was. Rosenberg seems to have seen it for what it may have been, but it almost seems she no longer felt that she could speak directly.

Elsewhere at the Washington Post
, Emily Codik stressed the two performers' agency. No one told them what to wear!

Wherever you think the ultimate merits lie, we were struck by the way Codik's logic crashed and burned surrounding the question of what it means to see a performance as "objectifying or belittling to women."

Was Sunday evening's halftime show "objectifying or belittling to women?" We'd be inclined to say it was, but we were most struck by Rosenberg's apparent inability even to offer that for consideration as a third possible option.

Final point:

Our young relative turned out fine. But as we read the papers today, it seemed to us that many young woman have had a much harder time with our routinely repellent sexual culture.

On the brighter side, people make a lot of dough. There's always a brighter side to things when the costumes are barely there!

29 comments:

  1. "Was Sunday evening's halftime show "objectifying or belittling to women?" "

    What's with the zombie-talk, dear Bob? Calm down. No one cares about the two half-naked clownesses riding the pole on TV. It has zero effect on the womyn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Objectification is in the eye of the beholder, not in the form or behavior of the woman.

      Delete
    2. Thats nonsense. People are able to objectively sell themselves out and profit from it in a variety of ways. The fact that they do is not mitigated by their willingness to do it.

      Delete
    3. Objectification isn't selling oneself. Everyone does that when they sell their labor for pay.

      Objectification is treating a woman as nothing more than her body, nothing more than an object of male lust, ignoring that she is a human being with a brain, goals and desires, attitudes and beliefs and a personality, consciousness and character. She is more than boobs or legs or silky hair or whatever men focus upon.

      When a woman sells herself as a porn actress, she is exercising agency (choosing to do that) and she retains her personhood. When the man watches her film and considers her as nothing more than a body to get him off, nothing more than a sex object, he is objectifying her, since he has lost track of the fact that she is a person and not just body parts.

      The objectification occurs when a person is treated like an object. Thus it is in the behavior and attitude toward the person, not inherent to the actions of the person herself (or himself, since anyone can be objectified).

      objectification: "the action of degrading someone to the status of a mere object"

      This is something done by one person (the person committing the action of objectification) to another (the person degraded by being treated as an object). A person doesn't objectify herself.

      Delete
    4. Why do you care how you are "treated"?

      Presumably, you're not a slave or someone's pet, to rely on your master's treatment.

      Delete
    5. Anon 3:14pm, more often than not, it’s indicative of agency when people make decisions that are detrimental to their reputations.

      Women are not so infantile as to need your sort negation of the effect of their actions..

      This isn’t feminism, it’s protectionist and the opposite of female autonomy.

      Delete
    6. 3:38,
      Exactly. Trump should be thankful Pelosi only ripped up the speech he had such trouble reading. She could have ripped that ridiculous toupee off his head and lit in on fire.

      Delete
    7. Mao,
      Did you see or hear Trump's pity party speech yesterday?
      The guy is pathetic.
      Forget, for a few minutes, that Trump is the greatest gift the establishment has ever been given, and listen to that speech. Even you would feel bad for the mope.

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  2. “There was a time when feminism would have seen this show for what it possibly was.”

    There is a branch of feminism that began around 1980 that is called “sex-positive” that does not automatically condemn public displays of women’s sexuality. Perhaps feminism prior to that would have condemned it outright, but that was over 40 years ago.

    Also, Somerby says:
    “Rosenberg implies that Lopez may have been demeaned by the show, not that she may have demeaned herself and worked against the best interests of women and children and men. Has progressive sexual politics possibly slid a couple of steps steps when that third possibility can't even be voiced at this point?”

    Whatever the merits of Rosenberg’s argument, the assumption that she “cannot” voice Somerby’s third possibility is not valid, nor is it reasonable to assume that “progressive sexual politics” has “slid a couple of steps” based on the single example of an op-ed by Alyssa Rosenberg.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pole dancing per se in neither demeaning nor does it reflect the interests of women or children or men. It is used in some aerobic exercise classes. Women buy poles in order to do it as a form of exercise in their living rooms. It is a kind of dance.

      Making it into something different shows that prurience is in the mind of the beholder. Some form of dirty dancing has existed since the beginning of time. It is cultural. When someone wants to portray what Lopez did as demeaning, they are reacting to the cultural unfamiliarity and the overlay of sexuality (present in nearly all forms of dancing). Remember that Baptists and some other sects don't allow any form of dancing because it is all too suggestive and allows the devil into one's midst. This is more of the same. Lopez is Puerto Rican. Her dancing is foreign to the viewer. They want to reject her, so they make a fuss about the dance moves. It hearkens back to when Elvis had hip movements that were too suggestive for TV.

      I do agree with Rosenberg's comment about the camera angles. I have always objected to the way they film cheerleaders, especially at college games where the girls are not professional dancers and are not intending to flash their panties at anyone -- they might be dismayed to know the way that some male viewers think about their cheering and gymnastics. But there are lewd guys who get off on innocent activities that women (and sometimes children) do for purposes other than their lewd enjoyment. Men use mirrors on escalators to film women's underwear, and they peep in windows too. The activities of the women are not to blame, and neither is JLo.

      Somerby is despicable to use his young relative as an excuse for his own prudishness and xenophobia. Equating belly dancing or any other form of cultural dance with strip clubs is wrong.

      Delete
  3. It was just a stupid Superbowl half time show. Everybody has to have an opinion about everything, and most opinions are flawed. What does TDH think? women should where burkas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope this is parody, because it would be brilliantly accurate parody

      Delete
  4. Tea Party Trumpies in my area have been trying to circulate a petition to recall the Governor. I saw one of them waving a sign on the main drag in my town. Unfortunately, he is so stupid he cannot spell the Governor's name properly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Tea Party is one of the stupider things the corporate-owned media has pushed onto the public in the last 2 decades.
      The Tea Party is different than the Republican Party in spelling and pronunciation only.
      Same people, same economic ignorance, same failed ideology.

      Delete
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  6. If that glorious tits and ass show was the new feminism then I'll put on a pink pussy hat if I can still vote Republican. It was for the enjoyment of men and football is for men. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Put on the hat, and vote Republican, if you want. There is no law against loving women's bodies and hating the citizens of the USA/ world.

      Delete
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