When I was a kid growing up, The Miss America Pageant was one of the biggest TV events we waited to watch every year. The evening gowns, the talent show, the, er, swimsuit competition…? These days, more and more people are asking how we could parade women around like this and judge them on such merits. We are thankfully making progress in objectifying women less than we used to (in some ways), but as a society, we have so much further to go!
A few months ago, while at a minor league baseball game which had cheerleaders, I noticed something. The cheerleaders at that particular game were not the ones who do gymnastics, go to competitions, and are incredible athletes in their own right (as a former gymnast myself, I enjoy watching such competitions). No, it seemed that what was expected of the women in this particular league was to have curves in all the right places which were to be displayed in the low cut tops and hot pants uniforms they were made to wear, much to the delight of the men in the stadium.
Sports fans had come to see male athletes, who were fully clothed, and whose role was to play a game of skill. They had also come to see scantily clad women, of certain proportions, whose role was to prance around. “How is this still happening?” I wondered. Why are we talking about equal pay and STEM for girls and gender equality, but in the sports arena, people pay to see men play and women gyrate in skimpy outfits?
Then we come to music. Your average male singer and male band generally wear clothes that cover their bodies: jeans and a t-shirt. The new norm for female singers is to essentially perform in their underwear. That is, unless of course they’re too “old” or too “plus-sized.” Those women are supposed to keep their clothes on because women are only meant to be seen if they’re “young” and “hot.”
Which brings me to the Super bowl: an event which combines scantily clad cheerleaders with scantily clad female vocal artists who all stand next to fully clothed men. (Hey, at least there’s no swimsuit competition!) Orthodox Jews are often accused of misogyny, yet such exploitation of women is completely against Jewish law (men are not permitted to look at women’s bodies that are not their wives).
That is why when I heard that there was going to be a “kosher half-time show” during the regular half-time show this Sunday, on the Nachum Segal Network (tune in at nachumsegal.com) I was thrilled. Put together by Orthodox Jews (for anyone who believes in not objectifying women) this half-time show includes music by Lipa Schmeltzer, original commercials, and clothes for everyone!