Super Bowl Conviction


I stand convicted

This was an unplanned blog post.

Like millions of Americans I am spending my evening watching the Super Bowl.  I LOVE football and I love the culmination of the season that is the Super Bowl.  (Though to be quite clear I love the Super Bowl the most when the Indianapolis Colts are playing)

Let me begin by saying I am painfully aware of my own brokenness and tonight I really felt like God was convicting me on some things.  If you know me at all you know I am very passionate about social justice.  That is primarily manifest through my ministry serving people affected by disability, but I have also spent a great deal of time and energy over the last few years speaking to teenagers about bullying, self esteem, and personal identity.

I can’t tell you how many young girls I have met who feel objectified, hurt, and judged based on an example they can never live up to (nor should they).  They’ve been fed a lie that your womanhood, your beauty, is measured by your cleavage, your physical appearance, and your willingness to show more than you should.

I am troubled and deeply saddened by what was touted as “entertainment” tonight during the half time show.  I believe Beyonce may well be one of the greatest talents of her generation, without question.  How I wish I could sing even half as well as she can.  She is truly gifted.  She is also, undoubtedly, a very intelligent woman as she has built a career and empire for herself through hard work and perseverance.  But tonight, she is the woman who stood before millions, barely clothed, gyrating for entertainment.  And it will be remembered not as inappropriate, but as entertainment.

Meanwhile we heard from two other incredibly gifted women before the game.  Both Alicia Keys, and Jennifer Hudson displayed amazing vocal talent this evening, and they did so respectfully clothed, and without dancing in a manner that was inappropriate.  And their performances will largely be forgotten.

I believe that is because society’s appetite during the pre-game show is one of reverence and respect, but by halftime we have shifted to a vantage point of ravenous consumption.  But at what cost?

Some will mistakenly take this blog post as an attack on Beyonce.  That is in no way my intent.  If anything, I hold myself, and millions of other men and women accountable for what we saw this evening.  We created this.  We have perpetuated a culture that objectifies and degrades women at a pace that is both shocking, pervasive, and cunning.  We’re so good at it we don’t even know we’re doing it anymore.

And the upsetting part is that I, Harmony Hensley, have been a part of it.

As I watched the halftime show and found myself feeling very uncomfortable with what I was watching, I realized that a great number of the songs that top the charts allude, if not expressly describe and glorify this sort of behavior.   So why was I shocked?  How can I be surprised?  The world has become numb.  And I have too.

I pulled up my iTunes account and scrolled through the songs that I have downloaded and keep handy on my iPhone.  Though I have never been a fan of pop or hip hop music an occasional song or beat catches my attention and there I am, right on iTunes, paying .99 to add it to my expansive playlist.

I just removed 19 songs that include lyrics that degrade women.  To some that will seem like a lot, to others it won’t.  But the bottom line is that it was 19 too many.

Just a few nights ago my husband and I were watching a movie, wherein a female character was being forced into prostitution and we turned it off.  That’s not entertainment; that is a nightmare.  And though many of you will think it a giant leap to connect the halftime show and explicit music lyrics to prostitution and human trafficking I say to you – you are kidding yourself.  It is a slow fade from a “harmless” Hot 100 song to a young man believing a woman is an object, and that young woman being convinced that he is right.

I posted a simple statement on my facebook  page earlier this evening explaining that I find it sad that as a woman with great talent becomes more successful, she becomes more objectified (either as a willing participant to the lie that she is hearing, or against her will in an effort to keep her dream).  And it hurts my heart.

So all that said.  I’m convicted.  I have to do better. We all do.

I have let my guard down.  I want to see a world where all people are respected, and valued.  And if that’s to happen we have to stand watch.  We have to fight these small battles, if we’re ever going to win the big ones.

So I’ll be thinking a bit harder before I spend my .99 cents.  I’ll have the remote handy when I see things that don’t bring honor to others.

And I will be a tireless fighter for justice, with a hand of mercy, and a huge serving of humility.

Here’s to Changing the World…Together



7 thoughts on “Super Bowl Conviction

  1. Well said. I too am a firm believer that change starts with identifying that the roots of the problem are often in our own hearts. We all contribute to things we oppose, even if merely by complacency. Glad you’re not a good man doing nothing!

  2. Harmony, I could not be more proud of you than I am right now. Your work with inclusion ministries is great. What we watch and listen to needs to be cleaned up before we let kids watch or listen to. We are firm believers that it is junk in, junk out.

  3. I am older, not necessarily wiser, but I must concur. I have for quite some time been an observer of the way the times have changed and have been helpless to turn the tide of vulgarity and sensuality that has cast this fog of decadence over America. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but often the rest of the world does a monkeysee monkeydo following of our current craziness. I have been a high school teacher for many years, from 1959 to 2007, off and on for 43 of my working years, and have seen the pendulum of culture swing from a norm of hat and gloves were church accessories that were required with our Sunday dresses, hosiery, girdle and high heels. That was then, Beyonce is now. In the years between, men have gone from decent and clean, shirt and tie for special days, and trousers being belted at the waist. The first male student whose underwear I saw was shocking and it took me a good bit of urging and discipline from the principal to TRY to change his ‘stiyle’. Of course it is much worse now than then….only in certain circles. Our school now has a no pajama rule, and believe belts and/or rope are required. You are right, Harmony, and when millions of us decided to “let it all hang out” some went just a mile or so too far. Some things, like toothpaste, can’t be put back the way they were.

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