“So Totally Relidge!” Superbowl, Beyonce and Owning our Sexuality

This week, Kristen Howerton and I are discussing misogynistic commercials, Beyonce’s half-time performance and all things female empowerment. Do you think Beyonce’s half-time show was a good example of female empowerment? And on a production note, would you prefer “So Totally Relidge!” to remain a video series or would it be more convenient if we made it a podcast? Let us know!

  • roboPA

    Great stuff! I totally agree with Kristen’s take on the Beyone performance as it relates to “empowerment”

  • http://twitter.com/JanetOber Janet Oberholtzer

    Great discussion!

    I also question why female power and female sexuality are so closely related. I want women to be powerful, but does it have to be about sexuality also?

    Good point about how a man wearing so little and dancing like that would not be seen as empowering.

    I’ve been wrestling with what I did or didn’t like about the halftime show since seeing it on Sunday. I had called it boring and sexist… after a correction from my young adult son (kids say not only the darnest things, but also the smartest things!) I realized I was wrong.

    Beyonce and the show were neither… I was both.
    I tried to flush out my thoughts here…


  • http://www.terilynneunderwood.com/ TeriLynneU

    “In order to be truly empowering for all women, it needs to be for all women, attractive and unattractive alike.”

    YES! My favorite point you two made … I’d love for you to explore this more.

  • http://thereforeiambic.blogspot.com/ Elena Johnston

    I don’t like it that our culture is saturated with so much blatant displays of sexuality. But it is. It’s bad that our culture is so sex-saturated, and it’s worse that we’re saturated with such bad sexuality. We are surrounded by images that equate feminine sexuality with exploitation, and whether or not we join in the exhibitionism, those images shape how we view our femininity in the privacy of our own bedrooms and in our non-sexual public relationships with other men and women.

    I would be deeply ashamed to “own my sexuality” in such a public context. I’ll keep that in the bedroom, thankyouverymuch. However, like the prophet Isaiah’s three-year nudity stint, Beyonce’s (inherently problematic) performance carried an important and much-needed message; a shamefully necessary corrective.

  • Taunya Henderson

    One point that was missed Beyonce and empowerment, I believe when Beyonce is performing on stage she is uniquely Beyonce. For me that matters. She is not attempting to do or be something she is not for male attention and adoration. She is acting and performing straight from the core, who she is, what she likes, what she enjoys and she is allowing us all to view that. It really makes a difference. Contrast that to the football cheerleaders from all the NFL teams who have been around forever shaking their tales wearing the same tired outfits and doing the same tired routines. They all look alike, they all perform alike and they are not doing their own thing they are there just to be objectified.

    Beyonce is creating, this is who she is. She charts her own course from her hair to makeup, outfits, music, dance moves, who she dances with and what she gets paid. It is a creative endeavor that is uniquely her and I don’t buy the fact that she is acting just to get men to buy what she sells. You can tell the difference between her and say a Britney Spears. Beyonce is not selling sex she is selling Beyonce, the total package and I think that is why when we watch her we come away feeling like we have seen a very powerful woman give a very powerful performance instead of a sex kitten with little talent relying on sexuality to sell herself.

    It is also why it bothers so many people. We can deal with the little mindless sex kitten without much talent and write her off as pitiful but what do we do with this powerhouse who has the total package? How do we explain this? Is it write or wrong? It also for a lot of people become much more sexual because power is present and I am not sure our country and in particular Christians know what to do when power and sexuality are combined in a woman.

    We need to ask ourselves why this is getting so much more attention than Madonna, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga put together not to mention all of the cheerleaders and skimpy outfits worn by other superbowl performers over the years. This was different, we all felt it and we need to honestly ask ourselves why it made so many uncomfortable.

    • KatR

      “We need to ask ourselves why this is getting so much more attention than
      Madonna, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga put together not to mention all
      of the cheerleaders and skimpy outfits worn by other superbowl
      performers over the years. This was different, we all felt it and we
      need to honestly ask ourselves why it made so many uncomfortable.”


      • http://theemptynestexpress.com/ Ms. Kathleen

        For one I see a married woman on stage, one who sang for the President and his wife at the first inaugural ball, who sang at the presidents swearing in… And looked so lovely. And then we see her in basically skimpy underwear dancing and singing before millions. She’s talented. There is no reason for this but it was somehow very heart breaking I believe because it is demeaning to not only herself but all women. There is nothing empowering about it. God created us all to have a purpose in serving him and we all need to live out that purpose.

        • Anonymous

          I agree with almost everything you said, except for the part about everyone needing to live out God’s purpose for them. If Beyonce isn’t a Christian, she won’t be living out God’s purpose for her no matter what she’s wearing or how she’s dancing. And if she isn’t a Christian, why should we expect her to be acting or living by Christian standards?

          • http://theemptynestexpress.com/ Ms. Kathleen

            She does profess to being a Christian and doesn’t believe what she does offends God- But regardless of that God created EVERYONE for HIS GLORY and to serve him. We all have a destiny is Him that hopefully we will fulfill before we die – many will, many won’t but we are ALL called… “Beyonce spoke in The Son Christian newspaper recently about her faith. Identified as “a devout Methodist,” part of the article by Charlotte Webster read, “The former Destiny’s Child singer said, ‘I never mixed Christianity with how I felt (about him). I am about faith and spirituality more so than religion. Doing right by others and not judging. The thing that keeps me grounded is knowing that I’m always protected and that God is in control of things. Even the name of our group, Destiny’s Child, we got out of the Bible. . . For me it is about the way I carry myself and the way I treat other people. My relationship and how I feel about God and what he does for me is something deeply personal. It’s where I came from. I was brought up in a religious household and that’s very important to me.’”

          • Taunya Henderson

            If she is indeed a Christian the Holy Spirit will convict her, that is between she and God. If she is not than she will not understand no matter what we say. She obviously is not bothered by how she dresses and the dances she performs. Only God can lay it on her heart to change. Perhaps instead of judging we should pray and if we find it offensive or harmful we should not watch or allow our children to watch.

    • Anonymous

      YES! Thank you for this! Beyonce is performing AS BEYONCE. Not as an ambassador for any other brand except herself. This makes a huge difference! Thanks for that.

      • http://theemptynestexpress.com/ Ms. Kathleen

        Beyonce is selling her record company, her managers, producers are all making money off of her. She’s their commodity. A lady running around in her underwear is sleazy. I don’t care who it is. It breaks my heart when I see young artists like Lady Gaga, Britney Spears (who it almost destroyed) and others acting in raunchy perverted manners on stage. It does not empower them. It does just the opposite. It destroys who they were meant to be in the Lord.

    • Meg

      But the deeply uncomfortable part for me is that she’s perpetuating the lie that if we choose to objectify ourselves, it’s empowerment. And it isn’t. It’s still subservience, it’s constant vigilance to present the “right” image and to gain the approval of the male gaze.

      I think she’s wonderful…and that her sex kitten touches (the finger in mouth, the spread in GQ where she’s styled like a teenager) are truly at odds with the Beyonce who has stood out as a strong individual (remember the combat boots? songs about independence and paying her own bills? how, unlike other female celebrities, she doesn’t hide her muscles and performs in a way that highlights how strong she is?). Maybe because, no matter what she does (with society as it is), it all gets reduced to this: https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/558069_495242580523651_307927772_n.jpg after being digested by much of the public.

      I will agree that there is something empowering in seeing a woman who is sexual of her own volition. That’s a very empty power when it’s following the script of what women are allowed to be (especially in a sports arena), though. The Super Bowl doesn’t represent equality and Beyonce gave a performance that, despite her strength and individuality, still conformed in part to what a half time show by a woman “should be.” If she’d given that performance without the finger lick, the kiss to camera, it would have been a very different performance for me – they were very discordant moments and they undercut all the stomping, growling, power she was exuding. Maybe those were her patriarchal bargain moments – a concession to the fans who just want her to be a sexy thing, a softening of how powerful the rest of the performance was.

      • Taunya Henderson

        Every time I have seen a clip or read a description of one of Beyonce’s performances she is always scantily clad and always dancing in a very powerful and yet very sexual way. I am black and this was talked about in the black community long before she became mainstream because she started in the church. Her mother made in outfits back in those days and they were both highly criticized, one for creating the outfits and the other for wearing them. I don’t know a great deal about Beyonce other than that, in fact I don’t even know one of her songs and could not consider myself a fan. But what stands out most about her, besides her powerful voice, is the way she moves, very sexual and her costuming also very sexual. She is known for this and always has been.

        Beyonce did not change or alter her performance or personality in any way to accommodate the audience of the Superbowl. She was not feeding into any male desires she was being herself. If the finger lick and overtly sexual moves had not been a part of who and what she has been for decades I would see your point here. But powerful sexuality is her m.o., her sexuality is her own and she uses it as she see fit. It had nothing to do with her audience it is who she is as an artist and a person.

        I think as women we are allowing men to control us when we use sexuality in a way that we ordinarily would not to please them, but I also think we are allowing them to control us when we hide sexuality that we would normally show. Had Beyonce come out as a toned down version of herself because of the male dominated Superbowl audience I think at that point she would have become something she is not because of her audience and at that point she would have been controlled by them. Does that make any sense?

        As it stands she came out and performed as the person she had always been. Had she been in her bedroom in front of the mirror it probably would not have been any different. Does that mean I think the performance was appropriate for kids or should be played in any venue, no. It just means I don’t think Beyonce was objectified or in any way used sex to sell.

  • http://twitter.com/AmandaMedlin_ Amanda Medlin

    Loved this! Here’s my take on it all.

    Sexuality no longer sells…shock and awe sells. GoDaddy has to be raunchier, Doritos has to be funnier, and the half-time show has to be flashier. The goal is to keep us talking about it so that their brand remains a household name. And because we have grown so desensitized as a culture, it takes more and more to get us talking.

    What scares me is how much entertainment has to do to shock us anymore and it makes me wonder what’s next?

  • KatR

    These conversations about Beyonce remind me of stuff I read about the controversy surrounding Elvis Presley. Which was in the nineteen freaking fifties. To Elizabeth’s point about Mick Jagger – there is a reason men can be sexy while performing while no one says a word – men were granted permission by the culture to do this a loooong time ago.

    • Marie

      I can only speak for myself, but if a male performer had done that same crotch gesture as Beyonce did, I would have turned the channel just as quickly.

  • Rae

    I really appreciate the point that Taunya made.

    Another point that many people have made that I appreciate was that it wasn’t *just* Beyonce’s performance herself, or Destiny’s Child, that could be considered to be the empowering part. Every single person on that stage, from the backup dancers to the drummer and the guitarist, was a woman. After the whole thing was over, although the blackout seemed to be the number one thing that people were talking about, I heard more about Beyonce and Destiny’s Child than I did about the actual game itself.

    And in a culture where women in general are considered sub-par entertainers to men, this was an all-female show stealing the spotlight during a massive event that’s supposed to be about men entertaining us by acting in ways that are consistent with our ideals of masculinity.

    And *that*, not the acts of singing and dancing, and not Beyonce alone, is what I personally think was most empowering about the halftime show.

  • Joanie

    I won’t weigh in on Beyonce because I haven’t watched it yet, but I wanted to say that I enjoyed this dialog so much more than I ever enjoyed “the view,” which I stopped watching almost a decade ago. You are great tv! I enjoyed having honest reactions and opinions from two people who are willing to ask the harder questions about religion, gender roles, and whatever else you have coming up. I also appreciated that you both put a lot of thought into what you wanted to say. (Again a huge improvement on “the view.” Sorry to be snarky.) I will be tuning in again! Keep up the intelligent discussion!

  • Gloria

    To your point of “not watching the Superbowl” – my bf and I are not football people, so we watched the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet instead. I also watched my Facebook feed and heard about the blackout and the winner; not as much about the half-time show or the ads.

  • http://theemptynestexpress.com/ Ms. Kathleen

    I did not watch the Super Bowl. I watched some of the commercial online. The go-daddy ad was disgusting. I think a woman flaunting her body is wrong. I think that is why I admire Adele so much. She sings but isn’t disgusting. Beyonce is a beautiful woman with a good voice but she is not doing woman or our daughters any favors. I can just picture 12-year old girls wanting to wear sexy undies in public. Beyonce is a commodity who is being paid well but she is making money for her record company, manager, producers…. Modesty is beautiful. If Beyonce had gotten up there is a pretty dress and still danced around while singing I would have admired her so much more. If Beyonce thinks she is empowering herself or other woman she is deceived. Modesty is empowering. I only watched half of the show online. I did love the Farmer and Clydesdals – Beer ads.

    • Jenny

      Just so you know, I’m a young person. Not some older person wagging her finger at the young ones. I absolutely agree with you. Why must everything nowadays be about being in your underpants doing stuff. This was the first time I’d ever seen this woman perform, and I just thought it was lewd and indecent. Yes, she is pretty and has a good voice, but think about how good it would really be if it she wasn’t dancing around in her underclothes. The Andrew sisters were good, popular, and well loved, and they were fully clothed!! Think about all those Motown acts, too. Oh my how our culture has fallen. At least in the old days, girls in their underwear were relegated to lockers and garages and not shoved in everyone’s face. I’m not just beating up on Beyonce, but every woman who dances around or stands around in her undperpants in public.

      I’ve also felt this way about NFL cheerleaders for a long time. Those girls on the sideline may be talented, but really, all they do is just stand around in glorified underpants looking pretty. Looking pretty is ok, but does everyone need to see you in your underpants?

      I find it hard to take them all seriously.

  • Meg

    I enjoyed Beyonce’s performance but I felt…put off by it, too. I watched it with my brother, his boyfriend, and my sister. It didn’t feel like it was a performance for any of us (even though we all like Beyonce’s music). Last night I watched Caroline Heldman’s Ted talk and it all clicked: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kMS4VJKekW8 (if the link doesn’t work it’s called “The Sexy Lie” and is on Youtube)