Liz Jones of sperm stealing, Daily Mail fame wrote last Tuesday that Madonna was past it and should put some clothes on.
In her third article criticising Madonna’s lifestyle choices this year (her other potshots include telling Madonna dating a toyboy makes her look old and her looking ‘pillow faced’ at the Venice festival) Liz Jones attacks her for wearing fishnets and satin short shorts at a recent musical festival.
While I must concede that Madonna, at 53, is no longer in her prime I am still outraged by an attempt to say that the Material Girl should behave some decorum.
As preamble to her tale of controversial semen rustling Liz Jones proudly proclaimed that she was a feminist and that she looked down on ‘mumsy’ types that had given up on any hint of independence and sex appeal.
So why criticise Madonna for doing the opposite?
I’ll be first to admit that Madonna is not the spring chicken she once was; no matter how many liposuctions or macrobiotic lunches or toyboy husbands she gets through she will never again regain the true flower of her youth. Not even if she grows it in a lab, which I’m sure she has either already tried or will try in the near future.
However, Iggy Pop, who is incidentally 65 next month and has a bass player who frequently appears with a cardigan and a cup of tea onstage, is almost ubiquitously seen running around topless and no-one has told him to cover up. When he unexpectedly performed a set to my sister and her classmates on a school trip to the local country house six or seven years ago (long story) most of the parents and teachers regarded the spectacle of a half naked pensioner cavorting about in front of a bunch of eight year olds amusing rather than distasteful (my sister on the other hand remembers just being confused by the whole thing).
Similarly, Mick Jagger (pushing 70) still struts around a stage doing that bizarre chicken-fish hybrid dance that he does and sleeps with women a third of his age.
Why is it when does Madonna any of this then she is ‘sad’?
Madonna has always been a massive headache for the establishment. When she first arrived on the scene people thought she was a one hit wonder because she was no great beauty, no great voice and pop still considered the need for a King rather than a Queen on its throne.
Fast forward thirty years; Madonna still reigns supreme and she is now in good company. At some point she will have to pass on her crown but it never would have been possible for the Britneys, the Kylies, the Lady Gagas and even the Adeles of the modern music industry to get their stilettos through the door if it wasn’t for her. She has proved time and time again that women can sit at the top table with men and behave just as badly as they like.
Why stop now? Why not branch out and take over small African countries while you’re at it? A man would give half the opportunity.
As feminists we have a set list of people we’re ‘supposed’ to admire. Emmeline Pankhurst, Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer and the rest. They wrote about feminism, they studied, they campaigned for it. They railed against the Patriarchy. Women like Madonna who spent the past thirty years parading around in their knickers should be ashamed by comparison.
However, Pankhurst, Friedan and Greer were campaigning, all in their own ways, for women’s right to behave exactly in the same way as men.
The new generation of female icons like Madonna, Caitlin Moran and even Lady Gaga are doing exactly that. They don’t give a crap if people think they’re being obscene, uncivilised or stupid. They do what they like, get their own way and don’t even bother to notice those who get in a sulk about it.
So that is why Madonna, no matter what she wears or how many African children equate her with the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, will always sit comfortably between George Orwell and Anna Wintour when I list my idols.
Living your life according the principle WWMD (What Would Madonna Do?) may not seem so ridiculous when you consider she moved to New York in 1978 with $35 in her pocket and in 2008 earned an estimated $40 million bringing up her total net worth to an estimated $500 million as of 2011.
Caroline is a student at Birmingham University. She’s also a freelance journalist and blogger, providing insights into political, social, and economic news from around the world. You can follow her on Twitter here, or you can check out her superb blog here.