Today in "things people are irrationally upset about" is Ciara’s cleavage at Monday night’s College Football Championship game, where she sang the National Anthem, rather beautifully, might I add. But instead of focusing on her stellar performance, our culture of arbitrary incredulity and rampant sexism has caused an overwhelming number of people to take issue with the pop star’s bosom. Ciara wore a stunning white, sparkling, floor-length gown with a plunging neckline, and objectively, looked like an angel.
Despite her overwhelming class and her graceful, flawless performance, her breasts were apparently offensive enough that people felt the need to lash out on Twitter.
Here’s the offending outfit:
Disgusting and shameful, right? The lovely people of the Internet decided to respond to Ciara’s smutty outfit with some choice commentary on Twitter:
The backlash against Ciara’s breasts is yet another example in the vicious cycle of social media propaganda designed to police women's bodies. Men, by and large, live in a meritocracy, where they're judged solely on the value of their skill, rather than say, the clothes they’re wearing or whether or not they're being “too sexy."
Women, on the other hand, who appear even the least bit disruptive or showy in public, are diminished for having the audacity to simply exist with sexual autonomy in our line of sight. Moreover, as a woman of color, Ciara becomes even more visible, and yet more susceptible to that misogynist mallet of judgement.
Meanwhile, let’s not forget that football is a game that consistently glorifies men who have been perpetrators of physical and sexual violence towards women, both at a college level and a national level. Broadly’s “Rapey Report” covers, at length, the 44 active NFL players who have displayed questionable or criminal violent behavior towards women in recent years. Let’s also not forget that partially dressed, hyper-sexualized cheerleaders still line the fields at every game. The objectification and disenfranchisement of women by football is deeply institutionalized, and the notion that women are objects of male pleasure is further perpetuated by distaste for Ciara’s cleavage.
It's also hypocritical for football fans to admonish Ciara for her cleavage while continuing to support a sport that routinely employs and deifies violent, misogynist men. This should give you an idea of how far women have to go in terms of social, cultural and sexual equality.
But the sad state of affairs is that even for “empowered” women like Ciara, making the choice to wear any, even fleeting, vestage of feminine sexuality in public, is really not her decision to make—something that “controversy” like this pops up to remind us of. As long as we continue to police when, where and how women can appear, we will continue to live oppressed by sexism.