Madonna Feminism


Courtesy: Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

“Remembering that Madonna is a construct; a very talented chameleon who spends her life on the lookout for a weakness in the industry to exploit.”

I am struggling to see how posing partially clothed is a form of female empowerment or — more seriously — a kind of feminism.

Let’s remember that feminism as a movement was born out of a desire for social change, and to provide new avenues for women to ‘be’ in our cultures without being defined by biology alone.

Feminism rose out of rape cultures, societies that devalued women’s contribution to anything other than domesticity, and the long-standing givens of the patriarchy (that men decide, rule, conquer, take, dominate).

My understanding of it all is that part of the feminist movement was to frame the female form in a less objectified way, to celebrate the functions that the female body was capable of besides childbearing, and being purely sexual, and to equalize the female experience with that of men.

My other understanding of feminism is its limitations.  That while we are testing the boundaries of equality, we must also acknowledge that men and women are completely different.

Madonna seems to sidle in and out of modern feminisms, depending on where she’s at in her career.  I would say that she sees herself as a person who tests the paradigms of the ‘male-centered world’, but I fear that she’s around 20 years late.

What I really think is going on in some of these celebrity politicizings is that they are not actually aimed at the politics bullshit; these images (acts, movies, choices) are aimed at women, and in a way that has not advanced at all from 1981.

It’s really women who respond to this.  “Good on her”, we might hear from the ladies in the 50-60 age bracket.

Good on her why?  She is not doing anything for society here.  She’s not telling us that tits are any less sexual, or wonderful.  Remembering that Madonna is a construct; a very talented chameleon who spends her life on the lookout for a weakness in the industry to exploit.  Most of us probably have time for Madonna (I know I do) in an entertainment sense, but she is not a feminist.

This is Madonna Feminism.  It’s contagious, too, because it’s easy.  Anyone can do it.  Miley has caught it.  Anyone who has stood on a stage and ‘taken charge of their sexuality’ by simulating masturbation, is a feminist, apparently.

I dislike Madonna Feminism.  I am teaching my daughters to feel amused by it, entertained by it, but not be fooled by it.



Next time on The Sane Companion.  Christmas shopping at Sylvia Park, Auckland on Christmas Eve at 8.45pm.

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One Comment

  1. Madonna has allegedly sold around 270 million albums worldwide, but NBCU conglomerate (formerly Vivendi) has a stake in nearly all major labels and invests in broadcasting also, so they literally tell customers what to be aware of and what they can buy, in much the same way the potato chips in a supermarket occupy pre-bought space on the shelf.

    Because some feminist tropes challenge conventionality, Madonna would in no way embrace them publicly, she is a “powerful female” in that she has a high net worth, but her music production, image, and aura are a mass media construct, and are pretty much snack food in terms of cultural capital.

    I guess people want an “icon” to project their ego’s and fantasies onto, which is why there’s always been Madonna (or Connie Francis, or Judy Garland, or Mae West etc), and some people have written about her from a “feminist perspective” I guess, she was also lauded as a “highly intelligent businesswoman” in some articles, I guess this is how America likes to see itself, as opposed to the reality.

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