Madonna is No Feminist by Stephen Blease (2018)

Madonna is No Feminist
by Stephen Blease, August 2018

Excerpts:

[Madonna relied on her sexuality to get attention and sell her albums]

….This sums up neatly my problem with Madonna. It was her 60th birthday last week, and all the coverage was about what a strong, successful, trailblazing “empowered” woman she is, and such a great role model for girls.

….She’s certainly a great example of how far you can get and rich you can become on a modest amount of talent.

But her self-promotion was always based on sexual explicitness. She never released a single without dressing in suspenders or a conical bra, flaunting her flesh, dancing provocatively and making near-pornographic videos.

Just visible on the Like A Virgin cover is the belt she is wearing, emblazoned with the words “Boy Toy”.

Surely that is the exact opposite of feminism and female empowerment?

And yet every commentator seems to believe she’s worthy of praise because she’s a rich, successful woman – and is therefore automatically empowering all women everywhere.

I doubt whether those women in part-time, insecure, minimum wage-paying jobs, struggling to look after the house as well as earn, will have felt very empowered by Madonna’s cavorting on stage or on video.

Nor can women higher up the social have benefitted much. It’s hardly tackling pay gaps, cracking any glass ceilings, or ending domestic violence.

It does even less to tackle sexual harassment.

And it’s probably had a negative impact on other female singers. The day Madonna turned 60 the rather more talented Aretha Franklin died.

The Queen of Soul used her voice to achieve success. But singers of more recent years, such as Rihanna, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus, have followed the path laid by the Queen of Pop.

They don’t rely just on their vocal talent for success – which in the case of Britney Spears is probably just as well. The route to fame and fortune has to rely as much on provocative videos, suggestive lyrics and wearing as few clothes as possible.

… If you’ve built a career on looks and sexiness and little else then it must be troubling to see that go. You can’t expect to look the same at 60 as you did on the sleeve of Like A Virgin aged 26.

…And if Madonna was really empowered and independent she would have aged naturally, and rejected the pressure on women in the public eye to stay looking youthful forever.

She could have argued that looking good doesn’t just mean looking young. That would have been empowering to those women who, unlike her, don’t have the money to buy themselves a new face.

…So even if she was a positive role model for teenagers and young women, she can’t be an icon for older women, with all the plastic surgery.

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