NEW YORK — First, critics panned Maroon 5’s Super Bowl halftime performance. Then social media folks went full-on snark over Adam Levine’s throw pillow-like tank top design. Then he peeled off the busy brown shirt and the snark turned to outrage over his exposed nipples.

The bare-chested moment Sunday had some feminists and Janet Jackson supporters focused on how male and female nipples are treated differently in life, especially on network TV and by the NFL years after Jackson’s career was derailed by a split-second halftime reveal.

“Double standard, much?” is how an InStyle headline neatly summed up the issue in the light of day Monday as the media noted how the hate quickly built online. Singer-songwriter Neko Case aptly captured the mood in an F-bomb-infused tweet likening the frontman to a half-nude greased pig.

Jackson’s 2004 wardrobe malfunction, thanks to Justin Timberlake’s tug on her bodice, earned CBS a $550,000 Federal Communications Commission fine that was later voided by an appeals court. Levine’s nipples enjoyed far more stage time.

Kimberly Seals Allers, a journalist and breastfeeding advocate, wrote of the male-female double standard on public exposure of nipples in her 2017 book, “The Big Letdown: How Medicine, Big Business and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding.” She was watching the game Sunday and joined the Twitter choir..

Allers said Monday by telephone that the Jackson controversy was the first thing she thought of when she watched Levine peel off his tank.


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