Madonna Scrapes the Bottom of Fame’s Barrel by Eilis O’Hanlon (2019)

Madonna Scrapes the Bottom of Fame’s Barrel by Eilis O’Hanlon (2019)

Editorials such as this one appeared within days or weeks after Madonna was photographed singing at an event where her butt appeared to be much larger than usual – a lot of people were speculating that she got butt implants, and there followed a lot of commentary by feminists about this.

Madonna Scrapes the Bottom of Fame’s Barrel by Eilis O’Hanlon (2019)


The queen of pop isn’t a feminist icon – she’s one of the reasons women feel so bad about themselves, writes Eilis O’Hanlon

January 13 2019 6:46 PM

Madonna’s bum is nobody’s business but her own. At least that’s what her admirers have been insisting after the size of the Like a Virgin singer’s rear end drew some less than flattering comments at a recent gig.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Madonna’s backside on that occasion was only slightly smaller than the rising moon, no pun intended.

Implants were suspected, though others thought perhaps a battery pack and some unfortunate camera angles were to blame.

There’s also the possibility that she’s just trolling the world into thinking she’s gone full ‘Kim Kardashian’.

Either way, we were apparently not supposed to comment on the size or shape of said rear end, except to offer up some hackneyed variant on “you go, sister… girl power… female empowerment, yeah”.

Since then, condemnations of “misogynists” and “chauvinists” for daring to make disparaging remarks about a woman’s butt have sprung up across the media with predictable regularity, with Madonna herself hitting back to insist that she is “entitled to free agency over my body like everyone else”. Indeed she is.

By the same token, though, most women haven’t spent entire careers exploiting their own bodies for commercial gain. Madonna’s body has never been ‘policed’ by men. It’s been packaged and peddled to them.

 Madonna can hardly start demanding that what she does with her backside is now a wholly private affair when she’s been thrusting it in our faces, metaphorically speaking, for nearly four decades.

[Author here cites several examples of Madonna flaunting her body publicly to get attention]

She was just having some fun [flaunting her figure publicly], that’s her absolute right, but it comes within the context of a woman who has sexualised every inch of her flesh for monetary gain, and suddenly we’re not supposed to mention it?

Madonna never minded the comments when they were sycophantic.

….Indignant female commentators who’ve come out swinging in her defence are not doing themselves, or women as a whole, any favours.

If they want to talk about how particular versions of femininity are used to disempower and belittle women, go right ahead. There are hard questions to be asked about why women are constantly judged on their looks.

But asking them means acknowledging from the start that women do it to one another all the time.

Meeting one another, they’ll immediately declare “you look great” or “have you lost weight?” It’s meant as a compliment, but it adds to a certain expectation that this is what women want to hear, that this is what they’re chiefly thinking about every moment of the day.

…Sadly, it’s no coincidence that the unkindest comments which were reproduced in the media as examples of cruel chauvinism actually came from fellow women.

When men blatantly inspect you to see if you’re up to scratch, it’s maddening.

When women do it, it’s utterly baffling.

‘Internalised misogyny’ is a lazy catch-all term, but there’s undoubtedly a phenomenon of women being taught to hate their own bodies and to constantly find ways to fight imperfection or ageing as if they should be ashamed of being mortal.

 There’s a rich seam of potential discourse around those intolerable pressures that women are under.

But if we want to go there, then it means holding women like Madonna to account as well, rather than treating them solely as victims, because she’s contributed hugely to the culture which makes women feel self-conscious or negative about their bodies.She has been sculpting herself into a male fantasy object from an early age.

That’s not a feminist act. It’s kryptonite for feminism, but she gets a free pass because she knows the right slogans to spout.

Madonna has often been an appalling role model for women. She could have used her considerable power and influence as a cultural icon for decades to challenge all that, even to offer an alternative, but she never has, she’s never even tried.

All she offers women is face cream at $220 a jar, which, incidentally, she recommends that they also use on their backsides because “the butt has an audience”.

It’s not about her age.

Wanting to look fantastic in your 60s is a joyful thing, but if that comes from perpetuating a puerile version of what constitutes ‘sexy’, then you’re not the solution, you’re part of the problem – especially when you’re also exploiting women’s insecurities by flogging them $250 face serum “enriched with antioxidant-rich resveratrol to help minimise visible signs of aging”.

This is a feminist icon? Seriously?

It’s actually insulting to put Madonna on a pedestal as the answer to the impediments that stand in the way of women’s happiness and self-acceptance. She is one of the reasons why they spend their lives obsessing over their flaws. Knowing your enemy is crucial in every struggle.


Madonna is No Feminist by Stephen Blease (2018)