Some are immediately going to have a visceral response to this article titled “How the Super Bowl JLo and Shakira Halftime Show is Connected with the #MeToo Movement,” and I get it. I can hear the arguments, and yet I want to make my own.
Stick with me as I show the connection using science. You see, our world has an epidemic, and we are normalizing it.
We are over-sexualizing our children and ourselves, and then we are up in arms when our boys or girls inappropriately respond to that exposure. We should be up in arms, but we need to look at the root of the unacceptable behaviors that are the catalyst for the #MeToo movement.
Part of making a change is understanding the facts surrounding the problem.
Before beginning, and I will reiterate later, there is never an excuse for rape or sexual assault. I do not care what a woman is wearing, how she is acting or how she is dancing. Men, it’s your responsibility to wait for permission to touch in any way. She can stand in front of you naked and still say no. No is no, and you need to have self control. Women and girls, it is not your fault that a man lost control and hurt you sexually. Men, some of you have been abused sexually too. You have scars. It’s not your fault. Please know that!
This is a sensitive topic for many reasons. Both men and women are affected by sexual assault – it’s not just female victims and male perps. Both men and women struggle with pornography. It’s not just a man’s issue. It is an issue, and it’s an issue we need to discuss.
With that understanding, let’s begin.
This is Your Brain. This is Your Brain on Porn. Any Questions?
What is pornography?
According to Britannica, pornography is a “representation of sexual behavior in books, pictures, statues, motion pictures, and other media that is intended to cause sexual excitement.”
This begs the question, was the 2020 Halftime show with JLo and Shakira pornographic? According to the definition above, maybe. I’m sure it varies from person to person.
Did most men watching this show experience “sexual excitement?” It would take polls and interviews to know for sure. That said, the men in our group chose to fast forward it out of conviction when the pole dancing started, although there was much negative commentary prior to that moment. I’m sure part of that conviction was the temptation it stirred in their hearts.
There were multiple crotch shots, bondage costumes, and sheer costumes corresponding with pole dancing. There was a lot of skin and ass. Things were shaking every which way, and the split bare legs surrounding the stage at one point conjured up strip club images I’ve seen in the past (and I don’t even watch rated R or mature content).
My guess is that most men did have a sexual response and lust in association with this performance, especially our young men. This of course varies from person to person.
While it may have not been explicit pornography, it was strongly sexually suggestive and arousing.
Based on the buzz on the internet, there are different levels of conviction in this area. Some celebrated the talent while others were disgusted.
How does pornography impact the brain?
According to Fight the New Drug, “Repeated consumption of porn causes the brain to literally rewire itself. It triggers the brain to pump out chemicals and form new nerve pathways, leading to profound and lasting changes in the brain.”
Further, “Even more pertinent are recent papers published in 2010 describing the effect of sexuality on neuroplasticity. In one study, sexual experience has been shown to induce alterations in medium spiny neurons in the nucleus accumbens similar to those seen with drugs of abuse.” – Pornography addiction: A Neuroscience Perspective.
“A 2015 study by the Journal of Sex Research demonstrated that ‘constant novelty and primacy of sexual stimuli as particularly strong natural rewards make internet pornography a unique activator of the brain’s reward system’ and ‘novelty is compelling because it triggers bursts of dopamine in regions of the brain strongly associated with reward and goal-directed behavior.’” – Enough is Enough
My sister went to a seminar about pornography and told me about that thought that novelty, as mentioned in the above paragraph, is an interesting component of pornography addiction. The body becomes less satisfied with the current sexual stimulation, so the sexual need shifts and morphs. Rather than just looking, the brain craves to touch and then to look at something new and different – whether it be bondage or children or animals, or engaging in a variety of sexual acts the need changes.
This is how Covenant Eyes describes it, “But the more one masturbates to porn, the more dopamine is released in the brain. Eventually dopamine receptors and signals in the brain fatigue, leaving the viewer wanting more but unable to reach a level of satisfaction. The viewer becomes numb to things once considered pleasurable. ‘To escape this desensitization, people, and men especially, expand their pornographic tastes to more novel stimuli,’ Black writes. This leads, again, to more fatigue.”
According to American College of Pediatricians, these are some of the impacts of attitudes and behaviors about sexuality in young adults exposed to pornography vs. a control group:
- Male subjects demonstrated increased callousness toward women.
- Subjects considered the crime of rape less serious.
- Subjects were more accepting of non-marital sexual activity and non-coital sexual practices such as oral and anal sex.
- Subjects became more interested in more extreme and deviant forms of pornography.
- Subjects were more likely to say they were dissatisfied with their sexual partner.
- Subjects were more accepting of sexual infidelity in a relationship.
- Subjects valued marriage less and were twice as likely to believe marriage may become obsolete.
- Men experienced a decreased desire for children, and women experienced a decreased desire to have a daughter.
- Subjects showed a greater acceptance of female promiscuity.
The prefrontal lobe is essential in regulating behavior, solving problems, abstract emotions and impacts our ability to control our impulses and urges. When looking at porn and masturbating because of it, dopamine is dumped into the brain and impacts the prefrontal lobe, impacting self control in the area of sexuality.
Further, pornography impacts the neuronal pathways of the brain, changing our brain structure. See here.
There are great resources all over the place that describe in even more detail how different areas of the brain are impacted by pornography. This article in Time magazine is another interesting read.
Is Pornography an Epidemic?
The Utah state legislature has wisely declared pornography a national epidemic that is ripping the fabric of our society (Barta, 2018). resource
Let’s look at some statistics found at The Recovery Village and Josh.org. There are statistics all over the web, but these are the more current resources I found:
- 11 years old is the average age of kids first exposed to pornography, and it’s often while doing their homework.
- 25% of search engine requests are related to sex and 35% of downloads on the internet are pornographic
- 40 million Americans say they regularly visit porn sites
- As many as 93.2% of boys and 62.1% of girls first see porn before they turn 18
- In 2018 there were 2.3 billion pornographic websites.
- 624,000+ child porn traders have been discovered online in the United States.
- 47,000,000 porn videos are viewed by 7 to 14 year old children in the USA every single day.
- Half of young adults (49%) and one-third of teens (32%) say all or most oftheir friends regularly view porn.
- 70% of men age 18-24 visit porn sites in a month.
- During the last year, 65% of the women viewed internet pornography, 42% viewed hardcore internet pornography, with 21% viewing hardcore internet pornography in the last month In fact, 1 in 3 porn viewers is women.
- The porn epidemic impacts people inside and outside of the church.
One clinical psychologist, Dr. Jeff Hansen, shares his experience: “I have seen boys as young as 11 attempt to rape children as young as 3 after getting steamed up on porn; I have seen normal adolescent sexuality be hijacked and rewritten from something wonderful to something perverse; I have seen men go to jail and lose their careers; I have seen marriages fail – the toll is enormous and is mounting every day.”
I too have watched marriages fail in relation to sexual addiction and pornography.
I encourage you to read all of the statistics on Josh.org to realize we are in an epidemic when it comes to pornography.
Sexually Implicit and Explicit Behavior Has Become Normalized
The Superbowl Halftime show with JLo and Shakira is one example of how sexual behavior has not only become normalized, but it has also become idealized. It is accepted.
It’s not just what we see at a Super Bowl halftime show that is the issue. It is the number of pornography sites on the internet. It is the current sex “education” being doled out at all levels – as young as kindergarten. Our society makes shows like “Game of Thrones” and movies like “Fifty Shades of Gray” as something to idealize. Social media is another place children, especially, become exposed to sexual content.
We want the freedom to accept the pleasure without recognizing the risks in embracing highly sexualized content.
Conclusions about Pornography
Pornography is an epidemic.
Sexual material has become normalized and accepted in our society.
Pornography rewires the brain to decrease function and lower impulse control.
Decreased brain function leads to actions being fought against in the #MeToo movement.
What I Loved About the 2020 Half Time Show
Strong, beautiful Latin women – Yes, please! Talent with singing and dancing – Yes, please! Energy and vibrancy – Yes, please! Artistically engaging in conversation about important topics – Yes, please!
If they had done the same halftime show with slight modifications to dance moves and costumes – Yes, please! Performances are fun. They show creativity and art. They celebrate diversity, talent and beauty. Audiences are energized by great performances.
However, this Super Bowl performance crossed the line and in no way contributes to the strong woman message we want to show in both the woman’s movement and in the #MeToo movement.
Performances liked this contribute to keeping women as sexual objects rather than empowering women to be appreciated for their many other contributions to the world. It’s a step backward.
I saw this quote on a Facebook page this morning, “For all the cultural strides in recent years to respect women for their strength dignity and brains, halftime shows continue to be a setback for our daughters (and sons) to comprehend.” – Rebekah Lyons
How the Super Bowl JLo and Shakira Halftime Show is Connected with the #MeToo Movement
I’ve sought to prove How the Super Bowl JLo and Shakira Halftime Show is Connected with the #MeToo Movement. I’m getting there.
Please hear me: Is the way a woman dresses or the way a woman dances an invitation for a man to touch or force sex on a woman? Absolutely not! Men, you need to take responsibility for your behaviors. A woman can be wearing nothing, and you have no right to touch her or put your penis inside of her without her permission.
Women, I am not saying that what has happened to you when you were sexually abused is your fault. It is not! I don’t care what you were wearing or how you were flirting. No man has a right to touch you without your permission.
As a woman, I have experienced men touching me in ways I don’t want. One may have doubled over with my elbow to his stomach because of it.
All that said, we are sending a super confusing message to our young people. We are exposing them to sexual materials and behaviors and normalizing it. We are letting our young men and women watch the 2020 Super Bowl performance and saying, “Wow. Aren’t they amazing performers?” rather than recognizing how the brain is being altered with such exposure.
While the 2020 Half Time show wasn’t necessarily explicit, we can at least call it the gateway drug to pornography. Tell me that the young men who were watching didn’t want to watch more, explore more and dig in more to what women have to offer sexually.
As sexual exposure becomes normalized, our bodies crave more and different. This often (as proved by the statistics above) leads to pornography. Pornography leads to a rewiring the brain, with this result:
“Then, as a ‘double whammy,’ this chronic exposure to addictive behaviors or substances then impacts negatively on the prefrontal cortex, which among other things is the brain’s decision-making center which is associated with impulse-control or ‘braking mechanism.’ As the prefrontal cortex’s braking mechanism becomes increasingly impaired, we are far less able to put on the brakes and refrain from the addictive substance or behavior (Wilson, 2014) – Taken from a paper by Dr. Jeff Hansen.
So now our young men and women have an impaired braking system. Impulsivity, compulsivity and judgement have all been impacted.
When exposed in real life to the potential of sexual activity, the man or woman acts without impulse control, partly because his brain has been altered due to exposure to media and other mediums that are sexual in nature.
The #MeToo movement is born, as it should be because being sexually assaulted or abused in not OK.
Hear my heart. I hate that we have to have a #MeToo movement. I despise child pornography, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, rape, marital infidelity, sexual addiction and sexual assault. It hurts people. It damages relationships.
I think the science proves that pornography contributes to all these behaviors that injure. It’s the logical conclusion as you read the science of the brain and how porn impacts the brain.
I see the connection both logically and personally as I observe those that have been harmed.
We are sending our kids mixed messages, and they are confused. Embrace sexuality. Pornography is OK. Respect women. Put on the brakes.
Their brains are being rewired to not be able to put brakes, and we tell them they must. And of course they must have impulse control! They must because sexual assault is not OK.
We have to hit the root of the problem – exposure to pornography and sexual content. Yet as a society we idealize it. We normalize it. It is becoming an epidemic, and at some point we, as the adults, need to put on the brakes to the kind of content we accept in our lives and the lives of our children.
Connecting the Dots Between the 2020 Half Time Show and the #Me Too Movement
So, How is the Super Bowl JLo and Shakira Halftime Show is Connected with the #MeToo Movement?
It idealizes women as a sexual object.
It exposes everyone watching, including our young children, to sexual content.
It stimulates the brain to want to seek more.
It can contribute to men and women seeking more pornographic material.
Pornographic exposure rewires the brain and decreases functionality, including impulse control.
Women are abused sexually.
There is a need to step out and say “no more” to sexual abuse because people’s breaking system is impaired.
The #MeToo movement is born.
I recognize that there are many steps involved in this slippery slope, but it is a slippery slope. The more we are willing to numb ourselves to the dangers of sex and sexual imagery in the media, the more necessary the #MeToo movement is going to be in our society.
Let’s get to the root of the #MeToo movement and say no more to our kids and our society normalizing sexual behaviors and imagery that is rewiring our brains in a dangerous way.
Thanks! Sad how our society is.
What saddens me the most is the results. I would love to live in a world where we were free from the pain caused by rape, sexual absuse, infidelity, and sex addiction. It’s such a stronghold and harms so many.
Spot-on! Thank you for calling it what it is and connecting the lines that society is trying to erase.
Thanks so much for commenting. It’s so interesting to me that people seem to want to throw out the data because it’s not what they want to believe based on the conversations happening on my FB page.
Thank you for not being afraid to say this. Thank you for standing up for what is right. I was appalled. I’m so mad that I wasted my evening and my day getting ready for that awfulness. People will do anything these days for clicks and publicity. Gross. I’m putting my foot down-No more NFL for my family. Players. kneel during the national anthem, they promote sexually explicit material during half time. Just gross.
Jodi- I shared this. I saw your post the other day and passed it by. I have been so disappointed a I see people commenting on the Halftime Show, people who are Christians who seem to not get it or are turning a blind eye! Thank you for the science and for saying so eloquently what I was thinking and feeling! Some of the stats blew me away!
The stats are pretty compelling, in my opinion, but others want to dismiss it. I think people have a hard time with science when it doesn’t fit their worldview. Thanks so much for commenting!