The Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira was the NFL continuing its streak of promoting a culture of female objectification and the normalization of sexual exploitation via a glorification of strip clubs.
The Super LIV Halftime Show—sponsored by Pepsi and a reflection of the NFL’s own values and priorities—featured stripper poles, gratuitous shots of performers Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s bodies in revealing costumes, and other overt sexually exploitative themes.
Immediately following a long and sexually objectifying routine that included pole dancing (likely a callback to Jennifer Lopez’s starring role as a stripper in the controversial 2019 movie, Hustlers), a choir of children emerged and surrounded the performers. Additionally, Jennifer Lopez herself brought her 11-year-old daughter onstage to sing. Factor in all the families watching the game on TV and what we’re left with is the normalization of sexual exploitation in full public view of children. This normalization of stripping and blatant objectification was a severe mishandling of the NFL’s responsibility to provide entertainment that doesn’t promote the sexual exploitation of women and children.
As we have explained before, stripping is not empowering to women.
Given the NFL’s track record when it comes to matters of sexual exploitation, including (among other things) halftime entertainment at previous Super Bowls and allegations that New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft purchased commercial sex in 2019, this halftime show may not come as a surprise. But that doesn’t make it less disappointing for those who hoped the organization might finally step up and take responsibility for their past. Especially during the Super Bowl when, for a brief moment, a little more attention is allocated to the epidemic of sex trafficking. In 2019 alone, for example, 169 people were arrested in connection with sex trafficking in the days leading up to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.
Some may be tempted to write off the Super Bowl LIV halftime performance as harmless. But the reality is that stripping and sex trafficking are inextricably linked. Many of the women—minors, in some cases—in strip clubs have been sex trafficked.
The NFL’s Poor Track Record on Sexual Exploitation
For an organization that claims to care about sex trafficking, the NFL’s Super Bowl LIV halftime show demonstrated their willful ignorance of the bigger picture of sexual exploitation. Although the NFL, Pepsi, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira would all likely say they are against the sexual exploitation of human beings, the substance of the NFL’s Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show made light of sexually exploitative realities and reinforced a normalization of strip clubs that ignores their inherent connection to sex trafficking and the broader web of sexual exploitation.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has repeatedly called for the NFL to clean up their organization. We’ve also run an annual campaign, called #TackleDemand, corresponding with the Super Bowl in order to raise awareness about America’s hidden epidemic of sex trafficking. How does that relate to the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show? If we haven’t made it clear enough yet, strip clubs are a primary supplier of the sex trafficked human beings who are bought and sold because of commercial sex trade demand.
In light of the NFL itself promoting sexual exploitation during its halftime show, we are now calling on you to sign our petition to the NFL (embedded below) and to use the hashtags #TackleDemand and #SuperBowlHalftimeFail on social media (like Twitter and Instagram) in order to let the NFL know how you feel about it promoting the objectification and exploitation of women and children.If the @NFL truly cares about women and children, it will discipline league owners/employees for engaging in sexual exploitation AND stop normalizing sexual exploitation in its halftime shows. #TackleDemand Click To Tweet
To learn more about how stripping is sexually exploitive see: