How do we teach our kids real values of being women, men?

I am not a prude. I also think Beyoncé is one of the most talented performers of our time. Her powerful voice, creative talent in staging her music, amazing physical abilities and her theatrical presence are brilliant.

However, I thought her Super Bowl half-time show was extremely sexual, aggressive and very inappropriate for what is deemed as family entertainment. Did anyone else think so? All her bumping and grinding so reduced her amazing talent to the sexualization and objectification of women. Can’t musical abilities, style, femininity and talent be enough to grab our attention without all the sex? I think of Adele, Alicia Keys, Florence of Florence and the Machine, Kimbra, Jennifer Hudson and Barbara Streisand – they all accomplish success based on their skill, not their bodies.

I know sex sells, and everyone watching the Super Bowl buys beer, cars, insurance and all the other products offered. Sex certainly gets attention, at the expense of females everywhere. And, at the expense of young children. Once again, money talks.

I have two granddaughters in California, and when the half-time show started, I began to call my son, who I knew was taking his family to a neighborhood Super Bowl party. I wanted say, “I hope they’re not watching ...,” but stopped. This is not my place, and another of those instances where I must respect his parenting decisions.

But what are we surrounding these young girls, and boys with, for that matter? To entertain, women who already have everything going for themselves, must stoop to the hyper-sexualization of their bodies and provocative dancing and outfits to satisfy an audience. Their talent, creativity and ability don’t seem to be enough.

It was also interesting to watch what was happening on the field.

Does the violence and aggression on the field also portray negative values about manhood to little boys? The players, wearing massive padding and skintight spandex, pushing, shoving and tackling seems to be just as much the sexual objectification of men.

Little boys see that they must be tough and forceful to be accepted.

Girls see they must be half-bare, look great and flaunt their bodies. I can’t help thinking, what has happened to our 1960s struggle for women’s equality and acceptance as people, not sex objects? It seems both male and female sexuality are increasingly mainstreamed into our society.

I won’t change the world with this article, but I may be able to make some mom or dad think about what their kids are exposed to, though.

How can we change it? How can we surround our children with real values of what it’s like to be a woman or man? Maybe parents will at least think a bit about what’s on TV when the kids are around.

Perhaps the Super Bowl should be moved to late night TV.

Martha McClellan has been an early care child educator, director and administrator for 36 years. She currently has an early childhood consulting business, supporting child care centers and families. Reach her at mmm@bresnan.net.