On my way to work this morning, I was listening to my usual morning radio show. In between the urgent-yet-not-at-all-shocking traffic reports that half of Orlando had gotten themselves in accidents because they don’t know how to drive in the rain even though it rains like 75% of the year here, the hosts began talking about the Grammys. Specifically, they were discussing the female performers and what constitutes as “sexy” to different people.
The topic was a problem in itself, really, but even more surprising were the things female callers -– yes, WOMEN -– called in to say regarding Beyoncé during her performance with her husband, Jay-Z (paraphrased of course, because I was too busy doing this to finish fully listening to most):
- "She's a MOM—what was she doing!?"
- "My kid was watching that!"
- "Ugh, she was trashy, plain and simple.”
- “She didn’t need to use her body; she’s talented enough to put on a show without all that.” (Aw, how sweet!)
- “Why did she have to show me that? That should be for her husband's eyes only."
- "Men like classier women!"
And that was just the tip of the iceberg. The first comment intrigued me the most because it told me something I truly did not realize until Nancy the PTA Mom kindly informed me and the rest of the Central Florida area:
NEWS FLASH, Y’ALL: The right to be sexy ends when you pop a child out of your body!
How dare Beyoncé! Not to mention none of these women once mentioned Katy Perry’s stripper-pole performance, or Pink (who is also a mother, but um, what?) performing arguably-suggestive acrobatics in a leotard and with a shirtless man, but Beyoncé dancing in a tight outfit with her husband is just right out? GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE and also, let me get this straight: Not only are moms expected to be MILFs, but they’re supposed to be MILFs without even trying?
OH OK, SUBURBAN ORLANDO MOMS. Excuse me while I vomit all over my dashboard after failing to stomach your hypocrisy and drinking a fifth of vodka to drown my temporary gender embarrassment (I pulled over, don’t worry). This opinion is disgusting enough on its own, but for women to actually come on the radio and say it about other women just baffled me.
The last point was in response to a question the actual radio DJ (one I loved up until this morning and now feel like punching right in his face) asked: “What do you think men prefer?”
Yes, really. That really happened.
So I called in because that question and the resulting answers pissed me off past the point of scoffing and eye rolling and road rage and J. Law head banging. Here’s how that went down after I let it ring for like a full 90 seconds, because there’s no way I was hanging up that phone:
Phone Answerer: Hi, who’s this?
PA: Hi, Jen! Do you want to weigh in on sexiness at the Grammys?
Me: Yeah, I think it’s crap that women are calling in shaming Beyoncé’s performance just because she’s a mom.
PA: Hm, interesting. I mean, that’s a good point, but my son was watching that and her ass was legit hanging out.
Douchebag Phone Answerer: I mean right? I don’t know. Interesting perspective though. (Pause) Are you still there?
Backup DJ/Misogynist from Hell: Hang on, I’m going to put you through.
So I went on the radio after two more morons called in babbling the same bullshit and said something along the lines of:
“I think it’s really sad that women are calling in and saying Beyoncé shouldn’t be performing that way and wearing what she did just because she’s a mom. So if she was single it’d be OK? It should be OK regardless. It’s these kinds of opinions that exacerbate the stereotypes that moms’ independent lives are over after they have children, and that women were put on this earth solely to please men. I think Beyoncé is a powerful, confident woman, and I respect that she’s not only a mother, but a sexy one.”
And then they said, “Awesome call, thanks!” and that was it. My female coworker heard me (she said, “That was YOU!?” after I got in and told her about it), a friend of mine heard me, and just the fact that I got to say it for a mass audience was enough for me to suck up my introversion and make the call. That was as great a start to my week as I could’ve imagined.
And I get that there might be kids watching shows like the Grammys — really, I do. But there are a few flaws in this claim:
1.Lots of kids might stay up late and see the programming that comes on then, so who’s to say that 8 p.m. time slot needs to fit a certain standard just because some kids might be awake? Are the ears and eyes of only the in-bed-by-nine kids worthy of shielding from such HORROR?
2.Kids may have also been watching any one of these controversial performances, too. Granted it’s a different awards show, but just because those performances aired on MTV doesn’t meant the television automatically shut off when a viewer under 18 tuned in.
3.Here’s a thought: Switch off the TV if it’s something you aren’t ready to discuss with your kid.
4. BETTER YET, don’t make a big deal out of sexuality when a.) Your kid probably will not think twice about it if you’re not flipping the F out, and b.) You’re no doubt turning around and letting your kid play violent video games or watch violent movies, which is probably way worse. And maybe you aren’t, but regardless, maybe you can speak for your own kid and let other parents speak for theirs instead of demanding media censorship that caters to you specifically.
5.Actually parent instead of expecting TV to do it for you. Television isn’t the only environmental variable that will be out of your control at some point, so unless you plan on chaperoning your kid’s trips to their friends’ houses, planting a camera on them "Big Brother" style when they head to school, and demanding they take lie-detector tests on a weekly basis while you grill them about exactly what they heard/saw/smelled/tasted and wiped off their ass that week, maybe stop expecting TV to be the exception to the rule.
And if you are actually considering doing the things in #5, please don’t. Please.
Your kids won’t be screwing in the junior-high bathrooms today just because they saw Beyoncé’s sexy mom ass shaking around onstage. We can’t expect to completely control our children’s environment, whether we like it or not, and I applaud Beyoncé for helping us not only see that, but for showing our country that moms can be powerful, sexy, strong, and independent -- yes, even outside their kids.