The Super Bowl Halftime Show has stirred a big ol’ pot of controversy. My feeds are filled with comments for and against Shakira and JLo’s performance this past Sunday, Feb 2nd. I have seen a myriad of posts celebrating and elevating, and a lot more that are shaming and judging the two artists.
Scrolling through this sea of opinions, I bumped into an article that had been titled as follows:
“Two Moms Rocked the Super Bowl Halftime Show So Stop Judging”
Not “Two Highly Accomplished Female Artists,” not “Two Latinx Role-Models,” not “Two Latinas that Beat the Odds and Became World-Famous Performers.”
The author decided to go with “Two Moms.”
I immediately felt my blood boil with anger. Even though the author was asking people to stop judging, she had dared to reduce Shakira and JLo to “two moms.”
“The Super Bowl halftime show was rocked by two moms over the age of 40, so stop judging,” reads the first sentence.
“I saw two women – both over the age of 40, both moms – rocking the heck out of that stage.”
“Instead of judging, why not be inspired that at 43 and 50, respectively, Shakira and JLo just showed that moms can do anything?”
There are two things that really bother me about this article. The first one is the focus on age.
If they had been in their 20s or 30s, the performance wouldn’t have been as impressive? Why is ageism between women so rampant? Why does it matter how old people are? Instead of keeping track of how much time has passed since their birth, shouldn’t we focus on what they have done with that time?
This is how it feels when you’re a woman who achieves something big:
- In your teens: Wow, how precocious! The poor thing, did they even let her have a normal childhood?
- In your 20s: Are we sure she’s doing all that on her own? She must be exchanging that for sexual favors with someone up top…
- In your 30s: Well, it was about time she achieved something since she’s in her prime years, and all.
- In your 40s-80s: Anything any women do is a feat because they’re too old and should be dead by now.
But even more disturbing, the fact that the author reduces these two Latinx icons to “moms.”
Firstly, with all due respect to moms out there, being a mother is not a feat in itself. Literally almost every single human being with a uterus has the biological capacity to carry a human fetus to term. The millions of mothers in the world prove that point.
Being a parent is not a personality trait, it does not make you special, and it should not be part of the discourse when recognizing the achievements of any human being.
Secondly, and more important, it is extremely irresponsible to refer to Shakira and JLo first and foremost as “moms.”
If you haven’t noticed, yet, both of them are role models for millions of young women, most of them of Latinx heritage. Teenage pregnancy, unwanted pregnancies, and little to no access to sexual education and forms of contraception are all issues that most countries in the Caribbean, Central, and South America face. When they are reduced to “moms,” the message is clear: since that is the best thing any of these two women have managed to achieve, then it doesn’t matter if you carry an unwanted human fetus and then bring that baby into a financial, social, and environmental situation that is very often unsuitable to raise a child, because in the end you will be like them–like Shakira and JLo.
It is also very inconsiderate to childfree and childless women to say things like, “Moms can do anything!” (Did you read it in a cheerleading voice? ‘Cause that’s how I read it in my mind when I first came across that sentence in the article).
So, if “moms can do anything,” what does that say about women who are not mothers? That we are useless? That we can’t do anything? That we shouldn’t even dare think about achieving anything because whatever it is, it will be meaningless?
I am a Latina woman in my 30s and I am proud to share my heritage with these two amazing, powerful women. I have achieved in my professional, spiritual, and personal life a lot more than I could have asked for just based in the fact that I was born in a Latin American country. I celebrate my achievements every single day of my life by being thankful that I was privileged enough to receive the education and tools that 90% of the women my age and nationality had no access to.
I receive compliments about my achievements and take them gracefully and humbly.
None of my achievements include or will ever include being someone’s mother, but that will not invalidate nor take anything away from what I have accomplished.
Isabel Firecracker is the founder and firebrand of The Uprising Spark, a platform designed to help modern, childfree women define and reach their life goals. She is a world traveler, an avid kitesurfer, and loves dogs. Pragmatic, no-nonsense life coach and host of The Honest Uproar podcast. Childfree intersectional feminist.