54th Superbowl Halftime Performance: Why It’s a Nod to Women Empowerment

Superbowl

Reporter: Rebecca Clancey

The 54th Super Bowl took place on Sunday, February 2nd, 2020, where the San Francisco 49ers played the Kansas City Chiefs, and pop stars Shakira and Jennifer Lopez took the stage for the long-anticipated halftime show. With anticipation comes expectation, and the two performers did not disappoint, despite an endless array of criticism from both men and women alike. People tend to criticise that of which they do not understand.

Instead of attacking those who felt offended by the performance, it’s important to educate them on the political and cultural aspects of the show that seemed to have been overshadowed by this ignorance. First of all, dance; there is no reason to be appalled by Shakira’s hip-shaking abilities- as someone who helped modernise belly dancing, taught to her by her grandmother, the performer uses this art form to represent her Lebanese heritage and communicate through dance rather than solely through words. Jennifer Lopez had also danced the salsa, representing both women’s Hispanic roots, and pole-danced as a nod toward her 2019 film, Hustlers, being snubbed by the Oscars.

That seemingly silly tongue wag that Shakira demonstrated during her set was actually not her imitating  turkey, as many would like to believe, but is referred to as a “zaghrouta,” a Middle Eastern ululation representing joy and excitement, as well as protestation, which is quite fitting for the important political and cultural messages the singers portrayed throughout their performance: the children in glowing cages representing those wrongly detained at the border, and Lopez’s daughter singing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” as her mother held up the US and Puerto Rican flag together. Both Lopez and Shakira, being of mixed descent and sharing Hispanic roots, chose to use their platform to address the injustice being done by the US government against immigrants and their families.

They not only used this platform to portray political and cultural solidarity, but the solidarity of women, as well. When the stage lit up in the universal “female” symbol as all women stood together, the younger women singing, it was obvious that another goal of this performance was to enforce the empowerment of women. Claims that Lopez and Shakira are “too old” to be dressed and performing a certain way, and calling them derogatory names, has a much more negative impact than what those claiming believe the performance has on young women. Both singers are grown women, with full agency of their sensuality and empowerment, and if you notice, all of the other younger women on stage were fully clothed. To make claims about their age in relation to anything that happened on that stage is sexist, as, for example, no one said a word about “middle-aged” Adam Levine performing shirtless in the 53rd halftime show.

Shakira and Lopez were the first Hispanic performers in Super Bowl history, and women, at that. We should be applauding their confidence, empowerment, and the significance of their performance rather than, once again, extinguish and ignore minorities.