Monday, January 26, 2009

Madonna and Feminism מדונה ושחרור האישה

I was asking a friend who’s both a Madonna fan and a feminist (I know a few such creatures) how he can reconcile the two. He pointed me to here, and yes, it’s an age-old dilemma: Do we feel OK about attending the Virginian Slims Tennis Open if a percentage of the proceeds goes to cancer research?

I see Madonna and her entire “religion” the same way: Yes, she does all the politically correct stuff mentioned in the above article; but she also celebrates the objectification of women as sex objects. What others see as breaking puritanical bonds and being out there with her sexuality I see as mere exhibitionism slickly marketed.

In addition, she can afford to strut around skimpily attired in front of millions: She has a retinue that includes bodyguards and other personnel at her beck and call; no one will ever hassle her or sexually harass her; her income will never be in jeopardy because she decides she won't put up with unwelcome sexual attention. Yet what of her (particularly female) fans? Do they have this luxury? Of course not. Yet she sends them the message that she represents empowerment without providing them with the protection that she herself has at her disposal*.

So she adopted a kid. So what? It doesn’t erase the fact that she exposes herself before millions, touching herself, costumed in…well, have a look here. Do these images show us a role model for our daughters? For her own daughter? Poor Lourdes. She’s going to be confused at best. That woman up there is…my mom? How could a kid be anything other than mortified?

So she has a message, yes. But she exploits female stereotypes in order to get across that message. Are there not wholesome (and just as entertaining) ways to get a positive message across other than contributing to the numbing of fans’ minds to sexuality? Because I don’t see anything here that I would want connected to teens’ sexuality; I see mere sexiness, the problem being precisely that many of us, particularly young people, confuse the two.

I’m pleased for her if she managed to break free of the repression of the church she was raised in, but must the response to repression necessarily be in-your-face sexuality?

*Ironically, even being a star doesn't guarantee a woman's safety, as we unfortunately saw in Tina Turner's case. A compare-and-contrast study of the two entertainers would be interesting.

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