Once everyone got over how dull the entire 2019 Super Bowl was, from the game to Maroon 5’s flaccid half-time performance, an actually interesting question emerged from the depths of the internet:
Why does Adam Levine get to show his nipples at the Super Bowl?
This is not just being asked because people find the tatts on the only recognisable member of Maroon 5 to be questionable.
When Levine removed his shirt halfway through the show, he showed two nipples, and everyone was like, whatever.
But in 2004, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake accidentally showed one of her nipples (partially covered by a pieces of silver jewellery) and it cost the network millions of dollars, inspired the creation of YouTube, and derailed Jackson’s career.
The thing is, we know exactly why Adam Levine’s nipples are not a problem, and Janet Jackson’s are.
Women’s nipples are sexualised, and men’s are not.
It’s a ridiculous double standard fuelled by the male gaze, by the insistence that this one specific part of the female body is, above all else, about sex and desire; they’re treated as inherently dirty and naughty, no matter how their owner sees them.
The #FreeTheNipple campaign has been talking about this for years, but still they’re not allowed on Instagram, they’re not allowed in public – because, what, someone might have a wank about them? Most of the time, for people who have them, boobs are about as sexy as an elbow and not nearly as convenient. But according to, y’know, Society, they’re a liability, a distraction, an unfair advantage, a trick we’re playing on straight men.
That is surely the only explanation for the question we’ve never actually had answered: why was Janet Jackson punished for Nipplegate, and Justin Timberlake, who was the one who actually messed up the bra rip, wasn’t?
CBS, the network that broadcast the 9/16ths of a second of un-bra’d boob was fined half a million dollars by the US censorship body, which insisted Janet and Justin had planned to unveil the boob deliberately.
CBS head Les Moonves (who, just as a side note, was decisively MeToo’d last year) was apparently “obsessed” with ending Jackson’s career – but not JT’s.
Yeah, mate, because every woman dreams of having her wildly successful career reduced to a punchline because of that time everyone saw one of her norks.
True justice will never be served until Janet Jackson returns to the Super Bowl halftime show, with a guest appearance by Beyoncé, and everyone’s boobs are out the entire time, and Justin Timberlake is dancing in an assless tuxedo in a go-go cage up the back without touching anyone.
Hey, they had male cheerleaders this year. Anything could happen.