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We have seen the female of the future. It has one eye.


“Madonna is the future of feminism.”

SO DECLARED CAMILLE Paglia back in 1991 when the young Madonna pouted and flounced across our screens, baring whatever she could of her lithe body and transgressing numerous psycho-sexual taboos in her catchy songs. Paglia was right, but for the wrong reasons (and Paglia, being the only feminist worth listening to, is usually right on these matters). Madonna appeared to her as an exemplar of the liberated, self-confident, self-reliant woman that feminism promised. This she was but she morphed inevitably, ineluctably, inescapably into the typical arrogant, bossy, sanctimonious leftist luvvy that we have grown used to. In doing so she came to personify the modern feminist, the real feminist, in all her awfulness. That was not what Ms Paglia was hoping for.

That sanctimonious streak was there at the beginning and Paglia had noted it. When challenged by a journalist about her “responsibility as an artist” “Madonna hotly proclaimed her love of children, her social activism…”, which Paglia denounced: “Wrong answer. As Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde knew, neither art nor the artist has a moral responsibility to liberal social causes.” It was already too late.

Since then she’s cycled through having multiple multiracial adopted kids, doing charity work in Malawi, being a long time campaigner for the LGBTQXYZ community and, more importantly, bitching about the patriarchy that has allowed her to become a mega million dollar superstar.

She has a new album out and has been doing the PR rounds, which included a spot on The Graham Norton Show. I don’t watch this but for once fell for the clickbait which reprimanded her for being rude to Sir Ian McKellen, His Thespian Royal Highness, and checked out a couple of minutes of it. Madonna is now sixty and although many a lady is still attractive at that age I don’t think flashing the amount of flesh Madonna did was really becoming. With her ridiculous get-up, bare thighs and overflowing boobs she looked grotesque. This wasn’t helped by the eyepatch she was wearing, all part of her new persona, Madame X. Perhaps persona-hub would be a more accurate phrase, since her new reincarnation encompasses a number of different characters singing in a variety of international musical styles. The eyepatch is fake, obviously; there’s nothing wrong with her eye. It’s not just any cheap fake but one studded with Swarovski crystal.

As for this supposed spat all I saw was some odd body language from the old lady when Sir Ian appeared. She moved away from him on the sofa as if he were honking like a derelict, and carried on leaning away from him. It was quite odd. After the preliminary small talk in which she admitted she didn’t remember meeting him at some entertainment bash years before I gave up.

Madonna has completely entered the realm of self-parody. This is how she describes Madame X:

She’s a spy. She’s a secret agent. She travels the world. She changes her identity. She sleeps with one eye open. And she travels through the day with one eye shut. She’s actually been wounded. So she’s covering up one of her eyes.

Pretentious? I bet Camille didn’t envisage this when she proclaimed Madonna “a true feminist”. Still, pretentiousness is bearable. Self-righteousness, on the other hand, is usually repellent. Back in 2016 Madonna received the Billboard Woman of the Year Award, during which she struck a blow for the sisterhood:

I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer…Thank you for acknowledging my ability to continue my career for 34 years in the face of blatant sexism and misogyny and constant bullying and relentless abuse.

That damn patriarchy again, trying to make sure she remained a standing doormat. But with Madame X she’s continuing to “fight” back against that kind of oppression and all the terrible things in this scary world — lax American gun laws, Trump, poverty, the erosion of women’s rights and LGBTQZ rights, Trump, false feminists like Paglia (who had accused her of “maudlin self-pity” for her Woman of the Year remarks). She thinks about “all the people in the world who are suffering, who don’t have a voice and who need a voice and feels a sense of responsibility for those people.” Ergo she will be the self-elected voice of the voiceless. That’s good of her. I’m sure the oppressed of the earth are grateful to Madonna for being their voice and saviour.

So it is that she has made the seamless transition from rebellious woman to orthodox carping feminist, much to the chagrin of old troopers like Paglia. “Papa Don’t Preach” was one of her early hits. It’s a pity she hasn’t taken her own advice to heart and kept her liberal social causes to herself.

suxcoverCurrente Calamo columnist, poet and writer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire. A Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Lincoln University (2005 – 2008), his poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent book is Albion Days (perennisperegrinator press). Sucks to Your Revolution is a collection of his Fortnightly columns.

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