The Super Bowl and #MeToo (EP.203)

#Metoo

Introduction

Was the halftime performance at the 2020 Super Bowl consistent with the goals and philosophy of #Metoo?

That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode. 

Continuing

Recurring question in today’s episode: Would you leave your car unlocked in a neighborhood that you did not know for certain was completely safe? And even then, would you? And if something was taken from your car, or even the car itself was stolen, would any part of you wish that you had locked the car, and taken the keys with you?

If you were robbed, of course the thief is responsible, and must be held accountable. Assuming he can be found. Even then, in the unlikely event that you are not out even one dollar in deductibles with your insurance, you have dealt with a pile of inconvenience and emotion. So lock your car, and take your keys, right? No one is blaming you for the robbery, but isn’t it completely logical to recognize that you made it easier if you did not lock your car and take your keys? And if you had done that, maybe nothing would have happened. Pause for emphasis: This is not victim blaming; this is pointing out that the victim might have influenced the odds.

Opinions seem to be split about the appropriateness of this year’s Super Bowl halftime performance. I have heard everything from “This was fun. My spouse and I both loved it.” to “This was entirely inappropriate for a prime-time, family TV show with a huge audience.” A fairly common attitude was, “If you don’t want your kids to watch it, then just don’t let them.” I am going to stay away from those arguments, and stick with the #Metoo question.

Let’s tie the, “Lock your car, take your keys” discussion, to today’s topic. If a man sexually harasses a woman, he must have it in his mind that she, all women, are there to be used by him. Objectifying women makes it much easier to take advantage of them. Watch (or re-watch) the 11-minute video, and tell me that women were not presented as objects from time-to-frequent time. A man making a point of repeatedly pointing to and tapping J-Lo’s butt front and center in the performance was only one example. Is that how you want men to treat women? If not, why is it okay to feature that in front of 115M people? Advertisers pay over $5M for a 30-second ad because they know how powerfully persuasive it is to present something to an audience of that size. Can anyone make the case that 30-second ads influence people, but an 11-minute performance with Shakira and J-Lo doesn’t?

I am making the case that if a woman gets her butt touched in an unwanted way, that the halftime show was like not locking your car and taking your keys. Seemingly inconsequential actions can have unwanted consequences. And once a guy gets rolling, it will likely not stop with unwanted touching. No. No. No. I am not making a direct link. I am saying there is a powerfully negative effect. Let’s Look at some personal history.

“Lock your car, take your keys. Don’t help start a kid on a life of crime.” 

That was the beginning of an oft-played public service radio announcement I remember from my youth. Note the emphasis on the youth, not on saving the listener from having their car stolen. And I am certain that this announcement was not absolving car thieves of any crimes if they found keys that were left in an unlocked car. It was clearly pointing out that victims can bear some responsibility as well as the perpetrators. And I love it that the central point of this spot was to avoid tempting the would-be car thief. The implied–but secondary–point was about keeping your car from being stolen. Of course, people have every right to ignore this good advice, and if their car is stolen, the thief still needs to be caught and punished. 

Much later in my life, when our middle son was in Junior High, he attended a Friday-Sunday co-ed school camping weekend. One of the female teacher counselors advised the girls, in front of both the boys and girls, “No spaghetti straps; let’s not tempt our boys.” Was she being a prude, or was she offering good advice, advice that showed care and concern for both sexes? I think you know how I answer that question. 

Forget spaghetti straps, the halftime performance featured crotch grabbing, seemingly endless hip thrusting, suggestive (is there any other kind), pole dancing, and belly dancing with a rope as the central prop. BTW, has anyone ever seen legit belly dancing using a rope? 

If anyone associated with the #Metoo movement supports both this performance and the movement, is the expectation that men should have to deal with increased levels of temptation, both specific to them and in the culture in general and still behave? If the answer is yes, I would agree. In the same way that I would agree that the thief is not absolved if he takes things from your unlocked car–or even the car itself. But why run any risk at all? Why not protect both youself and the potential perp by taking reasonable precautions? With both your car and your body. 

There is a lot of welcome conversation about dealing with the root cause of crime. Let’s apply that thinking to sexual harrasment.

And here are a couple of related thoughts:

  • Bill Clinton convinced much of the nation that oral sex was not sex. Not that many of them needed much convincing, but the President of the United States told them what they wanted to hear, so it must be true. 
  • In case anyone thinks that I am not woke enough to recognize that sexual harassment is more than just men on women, I did notice (who could not?) the suggestive dance with the two women facing each other, as close as they could get and still do their “dance” without bumping into each other. My lock your car, take your keys theme applies here as well.

The music was good, and I applaud that. There were parts that made me smile, and made me proud. And I want to be sure to point that out. And I repeat my opening question. Would you leave your car unlocked in a neighborhood that you did not know for certain was completely safe? And even then, would you? And if something was taken from your car, or even the car itself was stolen, would any part of you wish that you had locked the car, and taken the keys with you?

If you were robbed, of course the thief is responsible, and must be held accountable. Assuming he can be found. Even then, in the unlikely event that you are not out even a dollar in deductibles with your insurance, you have dealt with a pile of inconvenience and emotion. So lock your car, and take your keys, right? No one is blaming you for the robbery, but isn’t it completely logical to recognize that you made it easier if you did not lock your car and take your keys. And if you had done that, maybe nothing would have happened. Pause for emphasis: This is not victim blaming; this is pointing out that the victim might have influenced the odds. And I am making the case that the Super Bowl halftime show changes the #Metoo odds against women in a negative way.

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