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The NFL, fake feminism and that Super Bowl striptease

Ryan Bomberger is the co-founder of The Radiance Foundation.
Ryan Bomberger is the co-founder of The Radiance Foundation.

The NFL clearly has multiple personality disorder. They’re constantly fumbling the opportunity to put forward a consistent message. So many millions of dollars are wasted on incoherent and contradictory advocacy. But it’s just pocket change for a multi-billion-dollar organization.

While Olay featured fully clothed female astronauts in an ad who were reaching for the stars, the NFL paid for Shakira and J-Lo to gyrate and simulate a striptease on the Halftime stage floor.

The NFL is touting its official foray into “social justice” with its new Inspire Change initiative. But their version of “social justice” seems to inspire confusion.

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And what was more confusing than the insanely mixed message of an NFL that poured money into an anti-sex-trafficking ad campaign in Miami while hosting a halftime show that resembled a strip club?

Super Bowl LIV’s halftime show sadly proved this (judging by all of the praise from mainstream media and from unexpected places/people online): cultural identification is apparently more important than character formation. But Latino culture was not celebrated during the Pepsi Halftime Show; it was exploited. Sorry, J-Lo. Flashing and grabbing your crotch isn’t empowerment, no matter the “culture.” 

As a father of two girls and two boys, I want them to understand that their God-given equality, dignity and worth should be used to evoke love not elicit lust. (I understand this is my Christian worldview, and I can’t expect the world to share it; but fellow Christians should.) I love my two daughters too much to let them ever be objectified or think that being paid millions makes self-objectification ever okay. They’re equal without having their sexuality exploited.

Our culture simultaneously denounces sex trafficking (which is rampant in Miami) while celebrating a pornographic show to the world. Florida has been ranked #3 in the nation for human trafficking, which led the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee to launch the “Stop Sex Trafficking” ad campaign throughout the city. An undisclosed amount of funding came from the NFL. But don’t worry, that message was clearly offset by the throngs of nearly naked women and mostly-to-fully-clothed men simulating a free-for-all orgy in the middle of the Super Bowl. It’s just (patriarchal) entertainment, right? 

The kids in the wide-open “cages” were hustled (the chain link fence holding areas were courtesy of the Obama administration, by the way). The viewing audience was hustled. Are we supposed to believe this is the pinnacle of female empowerment—getting paid to do what men pay billions a year to see inside thousands of seedy and posh strip clubs from coast to coast? 

Instead of the mythical “cages”, perhaps J-Lo could’ve made a political statement about the real sex trafficking that happens at our borders that exploits thousands of children and women to satisfy the appetite of predators. But that would be too empowering because truth does that. Clearly the Halftime show wasn’t about principles…just (leftist) politics. 

Funny how in this #MeToo era, entertainers seem to vie to be as naked and as sexual as possible–not on a director’s couch–but in front of over a hundred million sets of eyes. J-Lo, Shakira, Pepsi and the NFL let down a generation of girls and boys who deserve so much better than the fake feminism on full display Sunday night. 

Originally posted at

Ryan Bomberger is the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of The Radiance Foundation. He is happily married to his best friend, Bethany, who is the Executive Director of Radiance. They are adoptive parents with four awesome kiddos. Ryan is an Emmy Award-winning creative professional, factivist, international public speaker and author of NOT EQUAL: CIVIL RIGHTS GONE WRONG. He loves illuminating that every human life has purpose.

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