What Beyoncé's Halftime Show Really Meant For Women

In a culture that worships the Super Bowl, it’s hard to overstate the importance of Beyoncé’s Halftime Show. On a day dominated by men and their accomplishments, Beyoncé reminds us that women not only have a place in this world— we steal the show!

I am not one to turn everything into a feminist cause, and yet when there is cause for celebration, we must champion our accomplishments. There is no arguing the point: Beyoncé killed it during her performance at the Halftime Show, and I’ll tell you one thing, she definitely didn’t lip sync!



In the past ten years of Halftime performances, only four shows have featured female performers (five, if you count Fergie and The Black Eyed Peas), and only in the past two years have female performers been given a solo billing – Madonna and Beyoncé. But why does it really matter?

It matters because without female performers, women, comprising half of the human population, are effectively left out of America’s biggest event of the year. Think about it – when it comes to women and the Super Bowl, we don’t have many options. Am I arguing that women should be allowed into the National Football League? Not necessarily. But come on, give us some options. For instance, where are the female commentators, referees or coaches? Nowhere to be found. Instead, when it comes to women and the Super Bowl, we have two options: cheerleader in a skimpy outfit or object in a Super Bowl commercial (see Bar Rafaeli or any other GoDaddy ad – sky waitress, really?).

Enter Beyoncé. If I have one criticism of Beyoncé’s stellar performance, it’s that she didn’t sing “Run The World (Girls)”, but perhaps her performance in itself was proof enough of that. Starting with “Love On Top” and ending with “Halo”, B managed to pull off what will likely go down as one of the most entertaining and well-executed Super Bowl Halftime shows ever (no nip-slips here). And we haven’t even gotten to the DESTINY’S CHILD reunion somewhere in the middle. Kelly and Michelle popped up out of nowhere, literally. Consensus: we weren’t ready for that jelly, not one bit.



But aside from the fireworks, the twenty Beyoncés projected onto screens and yes, even the earth-shattering reunion of the second greatest girl band on Earth (HOLLABACK, SPICE GIRLS), what I loved about Beyoncé’s show was the raw girl power from start to finish. Did you notice the lack of a certain Y chromosome on the stage? All female band, all female dancers and of course, the raw estrogen of Beyoncé, herself filling up the entire Super Dome (I’m going to go ahead and say that Beyoncé was the cause of the freak power outage just minutes after her performance— the universe just couldn’t take it). And the set list? Jam after jam: “Crazy In Love”, “Single Ladies” and of course, “Independent Women”.



Basically, what I’m saying is thank you. Thank you, Beyoncé, for showing all of us girls we don’t have to play second fiddle to the boys. Thank you for being a strong, fierce and beautiful woman who never stops going.

“All the women who independent, throw your hands up at me.”

My hands are up. Let’s go, ladies!

Featured image via Pepsi

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=24301111 Marisa Lyon

    She borrowed my bodysuit for the performance! But I was happy to lend it to her 😉 Great article. My hands are up as well!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=88200230 Akilah Hughes

    This was a great commentary. I, too, am sick of the boring role women are forced to play in the Superbowl. Hell, this year there was backlash on Twitter against women who tweeted sarcastically about sports, an arena in which we are largely invisible.

    Beyonce absolutely killed the performance. Her guitarist was FIERCER THAN FIERCE, and the Destiny’s Child reunion was fire. I think her performance was much-needed and appreciated. She is basically superwoman.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=734271412 CL Mealy

      I loved her guitarist. Before the Superbowl I was totally unaware that Beyonce toured with an all-female band. And they aren’t just pretty chicks holding instruments – they are actually accomplished musicians. How refreshing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1425983477 Rachel Nickel

    I think it’s interesting you point out skimpily clothed women as being a degrading role in the super bowl when Beyonce’s bodysuit was a little less than what I would expect to be worn for something that millions of families are watching. Sure, woman power, way to go, show the boys…. but maybe not show the boys so much of your body, and maybe have the cameramen try to get a few less shots of your downstairs ladyparts. I’d be actually impressed if a pop icon could actually cover herself up AND then pull of an amazing halftime show without it being considered boring.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=292900119 Sarah Cowan

      I somewhat agree with you, and I wish women could always get by on talent alone. But, at the same time, I wish everyone would get over the “skimpy cladness” of Beyonce, or any woman who has an amazing body who is confident enough to show it off. Why is it that women get ragged on for showing some thighs and cleavage, when I’ve *never* heard a man get the same criticism of not being modest enough. Why must women always have a restrictive idea of modesty? Why must women always worry about whether they looks too “slutty” or not. I’m not saying everyone should dress like porn stars, but I definitely feel like women get judged way too quickly and easily for what they decide to wear. And I think other women are the harshest critics. So, basically, what I’m saying is, yeah, it feels degrading when a woman’s body and sexuality is used to make money, which is really common in pop culture. But, on the flip side, if a woman decides for herself she wants to show some skin, should we really judge her too harshly? As an artist/performer/whatever, shouldn’t Beyonce be free to show her body if she wants? There really has to be a balance somewhere, right? When it comes to Beyonce’s “costume,” it was tasteful and fit with the style and theme of her music. It matched her desired image of being powerful, confident, and sexy, and overall enhanced her already amazing performance and talent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1585650103 Ryan Alan Bennett

    Let me start with one of the few points we agree on: Beyonce’s performance was a spectacular display of show(wo)manship and talent. I was floored.

    Does it matter that in the past 10 years of a television spectacle that is primarily an excuse to make tons of money off of it’s audience through advertisements only half of the halftime performances have featured female performers.? And that if you extend that time frame to include the early 2000s as well, the number only grows in favor of female performers. I don’t feel that this is mis-representative of any demographic. The Super Bowl, and it’s advertisements and production, are not aimed at primarily at women. Women, and their viewership, are a marginal benefit to this event that can be coaxed into watching via female-friendly advertisements and halftime shows. If you asked the majority of viewers of the Super Bowl if they had any interest in Beyonce’s performance, I’m sure you would get quite a bit of disinterest and more than a few outright negatives.

    And no, you don’t have much of an option in regards to the Superbowl. It’s not an event that is tailored to appeal to or involve you. You don’t hear rednecks complaining about being underrepresented in the “Vagina Monologues” do you? Maybe that is a poor example, but there are plenty more. I personally think more rednecks could benefit from seeing that life-changing show.

    Where are the female commentators, referees or coaches? Not being hired, clearly. The majority of commentators and coaches all have experience playing the sport. You don’t hire someone who doesn’t have the necessary experience. If women want to start getting football related jobs, they need to start playing football or involving themselves with the business of football itself. For example, it would be difficult for me to get a job selling cars if I knew little to nothing about cars. When it comes to the skimpy outfits, you know as well as I do that that has nothing to do with football. That is advertising. They are appealing to their target audience: college and middle aged men.

    Now we come to Beyonce’s performance, which I will admit was incredible. I am not a fan of her music, or of pop music in general. But I know a performer when I see one and you would have been hard pressed to have put on a better halftime show than I saw that night. Madonna certainly tried last year, but I was bored to tears. Don’t get me started on Tom Petty in 2008. But if you weren’t expecting the rest of Destiny’s Child to show up, you just don’t keep up with the news. It’s been plastered everywhere that they are collaborating again. Didn’t they release a song on YouTube a few weeks ago? It’s all about money, once again.

    As for the all-female band….awesome. Gimmick-y, but awesome. She wanted to send a message and we got it, but there is no need to beat us over the head with it.

    In conclusion, I don’t feel that Beyonce taught us anything, nor was it ever her intention do so. She earned her big-fat-paycheck by putting on the best halftime show that I’ve seen in a decade. But it wasn’t a feminist cry to her sisters. It was a spectacle. It was “girl power.” It was a means of getting more viewers to watch the Super Bowl….and it worked.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3100178 Claire Emery Tassin

      I generally agree with you but just wanted to point out that the NFL doesn’t actually pay an appearance fee for performers, just covers expenses. Obviously it’s still a net benefit to Beyonce & co in terms of exposure and related spikes in downloads, but it’s not necessarily a “big fat paycheck”.

  • http://idontlikeyourcat.tumblr.com/ Melanie

    I will never deny that Beyonce is one of the most talented singers today, but I’d like to point out that this is the same woman who wrote an entire song slut-shaming another girl, including lyrics calling the woman “nasty” and “stanky”, “trashy”, “sleezy”, and “Swore you look cute girl in them dukes/ Booty all out lookin’ trashy”, as well as “Booty all out, tongue out her mouth/ Cleavage from here to Mexico/ She walks wit a twist, one hand on her hip”.

    She spends the whole song slut-shaming another woman for wearing skimpy clothes, then goes and poses for GQ magazine and other publications wearing a thong and a half-shirt that exposes the bottom half of her breasts. I don’t have a problem with her posing for magazine covers; if she’s confident in her figure, she should be able to flaunt it. But her hypocrisy stinks.

    I was completely amazed by her earth-shattering performance at the Super Bowl and I was screaming when Destiny’s Child popped up, but I still can’t get past the fact that, with all of her “good-girl Diva” facade, she sure has a history of contradicting herself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=641008724 Brikena Sela

    great post!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=622311964 Olga Cabrero Vall

    I don’t think singing a few songs at the half time, dressed in a bodysuit clearly dessigned do please men, the main target audience, means Beyoncé (or any other women, by the way) is “participating”. Where are the female coaches, female comentators etc.? That would be a little closer to participate.

    She is playing the only part a woman is supposed to play in a sports show: the cheerleader. A cheerleader with a great voice and a great paycheck (being it in cash or in publicity), that’s for sure, but still it’s only a completment to the main “thing”: football, not music nor fashion.

    All female band, all female dancers? That’s exactly the point, female entertaining for a mainly male audience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1210729201 Emily Carlisle

    Just a little something to point out…I don’t know if ya’ll have ever danced before, but the thing is is that you can’t wear much. If she were to wear too much clothing, it would weigh down her performance, tire her out faster, and decrease the overall quality of her performance. Though I must also point out three things as well: first- that outfit doesn’t JUST appeal to me, mm-kay? I’m pansexual and WOO she was gorgeous. Second- can we consider that she might’ve wanted- even picked out- that outfit for herself? Because she loved how it felt, it was comfortable, she felt sexy- empowered, even. And third- that what the consensus of holding this performance back from being completely feminist is her outfit and how “skimpy”, or how “not-family-friendly” it looked. This begs these questions: What is wrong with nudity? Why do we get so worked up over breasts? What is so wrong with our bodies that wearing something revealing is taboo? It’s because the body is overtly-sexualized. Breasts- for example- aren’t immediately thought of as baby-bottles anymore; rather, balls of sexy, fatty flesh that hang from a woman’s torso- soft and pliant and pure sex-organy. What are messages like this telling our children? Because at the root of it all, we just don’t want our children (the line starts at about 16 and younger or so) to have sex- for whatever reason you may have. But we are going about it in the wrong way. We can’t just make everything taboo- that’s what makes it sexy.

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