Does it ever feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall? Like nothing you say or do is seen, heard or even, like, vaguely noticed in passing? Well then welcome to 2017, the year in which sexual harassment and double standards are as widespread as avocado toast on brunch menus. Following the Harvey Weinstein revelations and the devastatingly prevalent #MeToo hashtag comes news that Justin Timberlake will be headlining next year’s NFL Super Bowl halftime show in the US. It might not seem immediately obvious what this has to do with all-pervasive sexism, but blow the misogyny-ridden dust off the surface and it shows us yet another serious flaw in the way the entertainment industry sees and deals with women.
Justin Timberlake, you see, was the falsetto-singing, sharp-suited man responsible for Janet Jackson’s infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’, after he ripped off part of her top and exposed her nipple during the pair’s 2004 Super Bowl show. The NFL has denied reports that Janet was given a lifetime ban – but it’s Justin who’s been invited back for seconds, with the red carpet well and truly rolled out, and Janet having nothing to show for it bar a #JusticeForJanet hashtag.
Women’s bodies are battlegrounds. When they’re not being overly sexualised on and off the screen in Hollywood, they’re being harassed on streets, public transport and in homes and offices throughout the world. Then, such as in the case of Janet Jackson, they’re shamed for what happened to them, as well as being the victim. It doesn’t seem entirely fair, does it? Who knows if Janet Jackson even wants to go back to the Super Bowl, but the fact that one of the biggest artists in the world has seemingly been shunned – they did the same to fellow XX chromosome-owner M.I.A. for flicking the finger back in 2012 – shows a severe bias against one sex in particular. It’s the owner of the breasts that must be punished, rather than the person whose action caused one of them to momentarily pop out.
As the ‘Free The Nipple’ gender equality campaign so sensibly pointed out when it launched in 2012, what’s so damn offensive about the female nipple anyway? Roughly half the world’s population has them, they provide food and nutrition for babies as well as pleasure and places to hang bits of jewellery from for grown-ups. In fact, nipples are so awesome that in an ideal world there’d be giant shrines to the nurturing, magical things that they are. However, this is very much not an ideal world. People on Twitter are calling for the balance to be redressed and for Janet also to be invited to perform at 2018’s halftime show. If we were Janet, we’d only do it if we could go wearing a giant nipple costume.