JLo backs it up like a Tonka Truck for Pitbull

Last night my 13 year old interrupted my very impassioned rendition of Yertle the Turtle, which I was reading to his little brother before bedtime.

“Mommy! Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull just performed on the American Music Awards and it was nasty!”

“What do you mean nasty?”

“Jennifer Lopez was barely wearing anything, first of all.”

“Okay, not shocking.”

“No, but she like put her butt near Pitbull’s… you-know, and Pitbull looked like, all happy, of course.”

(The 10 year old giggles.)

I answered my 13 year old with something like, “Yeah? Well, you know how Pitbull is, honey,” and I went back to the story. I mean, it’s JLo and Pitbull. It’s the American Music Awards… what did he expect? We have these conversations often enough. I’ve told him, sex sells. I’ve told him that at some point very soon (if not already), he will find performances and images like these to be spectacular rather than “nasty.” I’ve told him that no matter how strong certain urges may be and despite what the culture says is appropriate – he should always treat women with respect.

Then this morning I came across a photo from the performance which he had described to me and it made me think.

(I can’t use the photo here since it’s owned by Getty Images. Click the link above to see the original. Here are some screenshots I took from video.)

J.Lo and Pitbull perform at the American Music Awards.Image is a screenshot taken from video.

J.Lo and Pitbull perform at the American Music Awards.Image is a screenshot taken from video

What can be said about these photos? I’ll admit that my first reaction was to laugh – (partly because it appears that Pitbull’s pants aren’t flat in the front and partly because I imagine Marc Anthony watching this from the sidelines.)

Look, total honesty here – I love both JLo and Pitbull. I listen to their music and think they are both talented individuals and exceptional entertainers. Pitbull is one of the very few artists that I’m willing to actually buy the album from, because I love every song and know I can dance through the entire CD from beginning to end. As a woman, I get kind of disgusted with the constant objectification of women in his music – but as a music lover, I can’t get enough. It’s a moral contradiction that I’m totally aware of.

After that initial amused reaction though, the photo also made me kind of sad. Here is JLo, one of the most successful Latinas in the world, bending over for Pitbull like an endless number of women have happily done for him before being tossed aside like used Kleenex.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a meaningless performance meant to entertain and nothing should be read into it. I know it was just a choreographed dance, a music awards moment that lasted for no more than 10 seconds and will ultimately be forgotten – but it just seems symbolic of how women, (Latina and otherwise), are viewed and consequently treated.

The cultural message: No matter how smart, how successful, how kind or talented you are, in the end, chicas, this is what you’re good for.

A peso for your thoughts, gente.

Related Link:

Latinaish.com – Autoestima

25 thoughts on “JLo backs it up like a Tonka Truck for Pitbull

    • Absolutely not a surprise and definitely not something Pitbull and JLo invented. LOL. Just some thoughts that occurred and I decided to share in the hopes of generating some interesting conversation on the topic.

  1. I hate both of them but I really don’t think it’s a big deal. I didn’t see the program so I have to ask. Was she just hanging there for a while or she just want for a quick one? I mean, I don’t go to clubs anymore but when I was 23-28, this is nothing.

    As for Pitbull’s pants… yeah, if you had that much booty in from of you, things may happen. LOL. It’s not like he didn’t think about it.

  2. Yup sure do agree with you…..some women, no matter what their socioeconomic status, believe that as long as THEY make the decision to flaunt their sexuality, that they are in control but they aren’t because they still end up as sex objects.In the end men still get what they want…a women bending over for them. What is it? Lack of self-esteem? Lack of self-respect? It’s sad because young girls are seeing this and they think that to be attractive it’s all about cleavage and nalgas!

    • Dinita – You bring up an interesting point. You’re right that some women believe that as long as they are CHOOSING to use their sexuality for their own gain, that they’re in control. I’ve even read that some prostitutes feel this way, (Just to be clear – I’m not comparing JLo to a prostitute!)

      I can see the logic in this, to a point, but as you said – men still get what they want, so is that true power? … I don’t know.

  3. Never mind, I just watched the whole thing on youtube. The one thing that stands out is the stupid FIAT 500. What was the point of this car? Also, what was the point of Pitbull coming out there? LOL. But honestly, the whole thing was what 30 seconds? I wouldn’t make much of this. And unless Pitbull is a 5 min guy, I would think that the whole “pants” thing was planned.

    • The Fiat was product placement. The car was also in JLo’s music video for that song. (Pitbull has done the same with various products such as Kodak and Voli vodka.) It’s kind of odd to me, too, since it isn’t like they need the extra money – but they’re millionaires and I’m not, so what do I know? LOL.

      The reason Pitbull came out at that part is because she transitioned into a song which features him on her album.

      Interesting perspective on the pants. LOL.

      I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, (you’re right that much more goes on in nightclubs.) Believe me, I couldn’t be a prude if I wanted to be – but it just made me think about some social issues I wanted to discuss. I can appreciate the performance/choreography/music for what it was – but I get angry sometimes that women’s equality is still not where it should be, and maybe never will, just because men think/behave a certain way. It’s so hardwired, I don’t really see how any progress can be made. And then women like JLo who want to be successful, (which I don’t blame her for), know that it’s in their best interest to play the whole sex appeal thing, so the cycle continues.

  4. Out of the mouths of babes…
    I didn’t watch the show, since I figured it would be too over-the-top for my taste. From what I saw in this thread, your 13 year old had the thing pegged exactly. Not only demeaning to women in general, and Latinas in particular, but an example of what this whole sick tv culture is shoving down people’s throats in the guise of music entertainment.

  5. I saw the video this morning and I’m not surprised, what surprises is that was all they did! After all, Pitbull sings about women being sexual objects and JLo became famous for her ass… Sadly, that’s what sells!

  6. I was watching this with my wife and 14 year old daughter. I lost a lot of respect for Miss Lopez. She may not think of herself as a role model, but she is. Many young girls look up to her. I’m trying to teach my daughter to have pride in herself and use her brains, not just her looks. Then we turn on the AMA’s and JLo / Pitbull almost had sex in front of millions of people.

    • Watching this with a daughter would be even more difficult than watching with a son, I imagine. Raising well-adjusted girls with good self-esteem in this cultural environment is an incredible challenge. You being there as a father and telling her to value her mind is a big deal so keep doing what you’re doing.

      As for JLo, I can’t say I’ve lost respect for her personally. I think it just made me sad because it was just symbolic of so much. I know the whole victim mentality is over-used, but I would be more likely to see Ms. Lopez as a “victim” of culture/industry expectations than to see her as someone creating the problem. This whole issue is much larger than that performance or her. I mean, would we even know her name if she wasn’t attractive? Probably not.

      • Yes Tracy, her attractiveness absolutely contributes to her fame… but there is such a thing as having a bit of class. They aren’t mutually exclusive. She can still be attractive and famous. I mean, what’s next, her performing an actual sex act on stage?

        As you mentioned the issue is much larger than her performance. But who sets the examples? It’s people like JLo and other famous actors, performers, musicians who set these examples.

        There are many young men who think they can treat females disrespectfully due to these examples. Some aren’t taught at home, and mimic what they see on television and the Internet. It’s my experience in life that too many youth kill and get killed over lack of respect.

        Anyways, sorry for going on about this. Thank you very much for your post.

      • Hey William, no apologies necessary – That’s what the comments section is for, discussing. I appreciate what you’re bringing to the conversation.

        I agree that celebrities, (be they musicians, actors, athletes, or otherwise), are seen as role models and that they should always keep that in mind. On the other hand, sometimes I think that they’re just human beings too, doing what they love, and that’s a lot of pressure. In the end, it’s up to parents to set boundaries, communicate with their kids, and help them find appropriate role models, (celebrities should not be the first place one looks.)

        Unfortunately, way too many kids don’t have parents to guide them in this way, so then we’re back to putting some of that responsibility back on the celebrity. Very difficult.

  7. Hi Tracy-
    I agree with all of your conflicted thoughts and emotions about this! :) I have no conclusions. I’m a 42-year old intelligent (and sexual), single woman trying on a very regular basis to sort these kind of things out for myself, much less the culture at large. I greatly appreciate your efforts as a mother to teach your son(s) that yes, those are the images, but they don’t have to buy into them. I have contemplated how men reconcile the seeming conflict within: surely they don’t (all) consciously objectify and yet they do the dirty dancing/language/etc. so at some level it does become a choice/conscious. Where’s the point of switch-over? As for girls/women being willing to be objectified, that’s it’s own whole topic, but with similar conflict. Like with the boys/men, it’s also both internal (self-esteem related) and external (culture/peer groups).

    Great topic! :)

    • Heather – whew! Thanks for this comment. I feel understood. I’m glad someone else “gets” all my conflicting/contradicting thoughts on these topics.

  8. Tracy, thought-provoking post. Sadly, these things are playing out on screens because we buy their music and in so doing send a message that it’s okay to objectify women (good thing I can’t make out 90% of lyrics). Along this vein, you made me think of the release of Breaking Dawn, which I went to see. I was one the forty-something women who inhaled the entire Twilight series in a month’s time, knowing that the heroine is a terrible role-model for preteen girls. Yet, I loved the story. Same type of contradiction.

  9. I’ve noticed a trend in the last few years with women on stage, no one wears pants anymore. It makes me crazy! Women want to be taken seriously, yet they buy into the game. What makes me crazier? Lip syncers! I am willing to even overlook the whole pants thing if a person can sing. The whole fake singing, no pants thing? Makes a girl look like a fool, as far as I’m concerned.

    And I just realized I sound old. Pretty soon I’ll be yelling at kids to get off my lawn…

  10. Lopez is doing a little bit too much here. When I saw this I didn’t think that’s all (latina) women are good for I thought that’s all (Jenny from the block) is good for. I think she stooped pretty low here and imo it’s even worse because she’s at an age now where she should have matured past this kind of thing.

  11. I feel very identified with what you say Tracy. I love both of their music, I don’t like how Pitbull talks about women in his songs either but can’t get enough of his music. I haven’t watched it yet but have the feeling that it is something that lasted 10 seconds and for a while it will be talked about a lot but later it will be forgotten quickly. Now, I don’t have kids old enough to explain things like that but I love what you said to your son and I’ll take note!

  12. rofl… javier use to love jlo— since she left marc anthony and he is now a father— he hates her— if he saw this omg— he would be so mad—- ive seen ronchier things at the bar lol but seriously if i had that booty— pitbull (great artist) (not so hot)… would be the last person i would be rubbing my booty on!

  13. I have to agree with William X. JLo is a role model for hundreds of thousands of young girls who are already struggling with image issues. She should be more careful with how she presents herself. Yet like you I still love to boogie to their songs.

  14. I feel conflicted as well. But mostly, hah, judgmental! I watched the dance with my mouth open because as someone in the comments here said, they were basically having sex on stage. Her costume was meant to make her look nearly naked, and the grinding was unbelievably racy for prime time.

    Our local high school is struggling over how to deal with all the lewd dancing at school dances, but they’re bound to fail when the larger culture allows dances like this on network tv for family viewing.

    All that said, I can’t help admiring her dancing! And she’s lovely, naturally, and remarkable for being 42 (or something) and still at this.

    We’ve done some incredibly dirty dances at Zumba, but at least the class is 95% women, most of us in our fading glory, and laughing about it.

    Good topic, Tracy. I wondered how other folks were reacting to this. My husband was sick . . . at missing it!

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