Regardless of how you feel about the super bowl halftime show, I feel it is important to think about things from different perspectives.
The reality is that modesty rhetoric in our Mormon culture poses problems of inappropriate shame and responsibility for arousal. This responsibility is placed unfairly on women. And if you’re upset about “objectification”… modesty rhetoric in of itself is a form of objectification. Not to mention the many other ways we objectify people in other industries that never get the type of attention we tend to throw at sexual/sensual themes.
I’m grateful to Jacqui for sharing her thoughts with us from the perspective of a fellow Latina and also a certified sex therapist.
Today’s guest post is written by Jacqueline Mendez. Opinions shared on guest posts may not completely reflect the positions of the blog’s author.
Jacqueline Mendez is an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and Licensed Marriage Family Therapist. Her passion is helping her clients create more freedom, acceptance, and empowerment through education and inquiry. Her goal is to help breakdown taboos, misinformation, and transforming rigid male-female sexuality stereotypes. Her focus is inspiring others to create extraordinary lives, deeper intimacy, and experience greater sexual freedom and expression. www.JacquelineMendez.com
It’s been an interesting few days observing the responses towards JLo’s and Shakira’s Superbowl Halftime Show. I hesitated to post anything but given the work that I do in the world and having had multiple conversations already this week….
No matter where you stand on the performance…whether you see these women as fierce and empowered or over-sexualized and immoral… IT’S ALL A REFLECTION OF YOU and your inner landscape. What is being called forward to be healed, updated, up leveled or even celebrated.
Nothing in our culture calls for healing, updating and up leveling like women’s sexuality. This year’s response to the Super Bowl Halftime Show is a simple reflection of this.
Last year when Adam Levine went shirtless and showed off his tattooed body, there was no stir. Not one worry that sons and daughters across America would start tattooing themselves. Not one! Even though the Bible and the Torah share passages that clearly state that tattoos go against God (Leviticus 19:28, which says,” You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead nor incise any marks on yourself: I am the Lord.”). There was Adam Levine clearly breaking God’s law and not a peep from anyone. Not one person went around telling tattooed Christians they’re going to hell.
Beliefs about sex and feminine sexuality need to rise up in order for all of us to heal. My encouragement no matter where you stand on this is to slow down and get curious about what you believe and why. Remembering that all you believe is learned and that it can be unlearned and updated. None of it is really real. Otherwise, your well-defined defense mechanisms show up. You will project, repress, displace, avoid, blame and minimize—exactly what we’ve all been witnessing since Sunday.
I’ve read persistent ideas about the impact on those who watched the show. A few thoughts on that…
What message does this give to children?
Children do not sexualize others. They are learning that from you by seeing how you respond to your discomfort and defense mechanisms. No child looked at Shakira and JLo and said, “Look at those immoral women.” Many, however, learned that from their parents Sunday.
My teenage son was in the room and he’s already highly hormonal.
What a great opportunity to speak to your son (and daughter) about women’s bodies being their own and what it means to sexualize the feminine form. Remember that women are not responsible for a male’s sexual response, he is.
Watching the Halftime Show should have been Rated X.
Please watch some porn. (Not the misogynistic violent type). See the difference? Pole dancing is not porn. Belly dancing is not porn. No one was having sexual intercourse.Watching these women being so sexual is going to cause my soul not to be permitted into heaven.
No, I am not making this up. This gentleman has even released videos in an effort to get legal representation. Here is a man, like so many, that believes that women are only to be sexual to please men. What a great opportunity to release and update misogynistic beliefs about women and their sexual self. Because what women choose to do with their body is under their domain.
On a personal note….
I have studied and practiced pole dancing and belly dancing. It is hard work. It is invigorating and enlivening to move in a way that reinforces the feminine form and to see my body meet the physical challenges. And, most importantly, I do it for ME. Not for the masculine gaze, not to compete with other women. I have done it because it makes me feel more alive in my own skin.
By no means is my intention to convince anyone of any one way to see things. My intention is to encourage inquiry and curiosity around sex and sexuality.
As a sex therapist and supervisor, every day I hear stories from men and women of carious culture, language, and religious backgrounds. Stories of how they learned about sex and who they were taught to be as sexual beings.
A common thread in their sharing is shame around sexual expression. Most was learned when as a child they behaved in a way that was deemed inappropriate such as being curious, innocently repeating what they saw and heard, shaking their body or touching their private parts (something children do to self soothe). What labeled it shameful was the parents’ or caretaker’s reactions to the behavior.
Another common thread is that women’s sexuality belongs to others. First it belongs to her parents, then her husband and finally to her children. None of this is true. It belongs to her. I have sat with countless women that had no idea that this was true. I’ve seen parents get incredibly angry and take it personally when their daughter has sex without their permission and yet the same parents didn’t bat an eye when their son did the same thing.
The whole world is a mirror into us.
What is reflected back to us is what we need to heal, update, and celebrate. My encouragement is to slow down, pause with curiosity and inquiry to what is going on inside of you. Be curious as to where did you learn what you are upset about. In doing so, you can begin replacing your reactions—projecting, repressing, displacing, avoiding, blaming, and minimizing—with responses of kindness to the parts that feel rattled and scared inside of you. Because when we free ourselves from that which binds us, we not only set ourselves free, we help elevate all of humanity.
I am grateful we are at least talking about feminine sexuality.
And, given all the ruckus…good to know I have job security for quite a long time.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST, CSTS can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex InfoPodcasts, is the current past president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.