Still, after the show I couldn't help but to wonder why Janet's career has had such a rough time in recent years. She's one of very few established pop artists in the industry right now, who just can't seem to catch a break. Discipline, her latest effort, opened at number one on the Billboard albums chart, yet people were quick to point out that her sales numbers were well below those of her hey-day. Since the Superbowl incident, Janet has been hung out to dry, and it really surprises me that more people haven't really stopped to think about the principle behind her downfall.
So much of the criticism surrounding Janet is in response to her sexuality in relation to her age. Too many news writers and music reviewers go after Janet for being just as engaged with her sexuality at 42 as she was at 25; but I'm not sure there's a problem with her refusal to conceal her randyness. It's no secret that we live in a society that assigns an expiration date to women, so that what was sexy when you were in your 20s is deemed desperate and un-appealing by the time you're 35; but why is a woman supposed to pack up her sexuality, throw on a cardigan, and start birthing babies as she begins approaching 40?
While I'll admit that Janet sometimes teeters the line between sexy ("Anytime, Anyplace") and trashy ("there's no place warmer than my mouth"), she still has every right to be respected as a sexual being. R. Kelly's been riding the same bump n' grind shtick for his entire career and no one has asked him to tone it down as he moves into his 40s. No wonder our society has produced mass amounts of overly-botoxed and desperately insecure middle-aged women, who think that the only way for them to remain sexy is to remain youthful.
Age is a reality, and perhaps we should stop setting our women up for failure. The same women that we appreciate in their 20s will eventually greet their 40s, and they shouldn't be expected to simply turn off the switch on their sexuality. While a woman's worth is certainly weighted on more than just her sex appeal, that worth shouldn't be depleted as she ages simply because she refuses to ignore her sexual inclinations.
Janet's catching flack because she refuses to be objectified, by engaging her sexuality on her own terms instead, and that sort of agency pisses people off. Over the span of her more than 20-year career she has covered racism, sexism, domestic abuse, and gay rights, among other things. At 42, why can't she have a little fun?