The Halftime Show and Sexual Violence

Trigger warning for sexual assault, sexual harassment, victim-blaming, and slut-shaming.

Last summer, I experienced sexual harassment from a medical professional. I was in a situation with a man who had power over me, who felt entitled to speak to me however he wanted. He was smooth enough to know how to get away with it and feign innocence if I complained. He physically created a situation where I did not feel like I had any control to get away from him. I felt unsafe. I walked away from that experience drowning in shame.

What had I done to deserve such treatment? Had I betrayed my partner by encouraging this behaviour in another man? I was convinced I was to blame. I was too overwhelmed with shame that I couldn’t speak to my partner for nearly 24 hours about what I had experienced.

I reported the incident several days later, and this weekend I received notification that the case would be closed without investigation. I was taken off-guard when all of those feelings of shame and guilt came flooding back. I felt physically transported back to the day it happened. I wanted to crawl in a hole to escape the shame.

The day passed and I started to feel better.

And then the halftime show happened.

Almost immediately, my social media feeds were flooded with complaints about how Shakira and Jlo supposedly debased and objectified themselves for entertainment’s sake. I saw lots of name-calling directed towards them that amounted to writing them off as sluts.

More gutting, I saw multiple people arguing that how a woman chooses to dress and move her body justifies any sexual violence they may receive.

Watching some of that made me understand why women.and children are being kidnapped raped and even murdered by sex crazed men who get aroused by all of that crap….Helloooo. Does anyone care or see what this stuff is doing?
– Facebook Comment (Name withheld to respect privacy)

We should be past this.

This is 2020. We’ve done the #MeToo and #ChurchToo thing. We KNOW that women are not responsible for any acts of violence done towards them.

We know that men can control their thoughts and actions.

We know that men are not robotic sexual beasts who lack the ability to treat women like people.

We know that men who hurt women are 100% responsible for their behaviour.

We know that, “But she was pole-dancing and wearing a bodysuit, I couldn’t help it!” would not be considered a justifiable excuse for violence in any court of law.

And yet, here we are. We conveniently forget all of this when we become uncomfortable seeing two grown women, empowered to move as they choose and wear what they want, dancing in front of the world.

We revert back to our pre-#MeToo justifications to control women in order to protect men. If only women would dress more modestly. If only women could remember there are men who struggle with lust. If only women could show respect to the men in the room.

And what does it say of a nation when a 50-year-old mother is celebrated for her pole-dancing agility and a former governor and presidential candidate tweets, “Best Super Bowl half time show ever!”? What does it say?

Making things even worse is that all this has taken place in a climate of increased awareness for the victims of accused sexual predators like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein, men who allegedly exploited women as sex objects.

What does it say of our culture, of our nation, of our morals? – Michael Brown 


Do you know what message I am hearing every time I read or hear someone condemn Shakira or Jlo for their dancing/clothing? I hear them condemning me for my experience.

I should have worn something different.

Maybe if I’d moved my body in a different way, it wouldn’t have happened.

Maybe if I’d done ______ I wouldn’t have been harassed.

Maybe if I hadn’t done _____ I wouldn’t have been harassed.

This is what victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence are hearing.

And the worst part? I’ve heard or read these comments almost exclusively from women. Most of whom claim to be feminists.

This isn’t okay.

We are better than this.


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