Madonna’s Triumph?


A triumph for all women rang out the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Daily Life section last week. Just what did this triumph entail you may or may not be curious to ask. A narrowing of the gender pay gap? A reduction in domestic violence? Affordable childcare?  NUP. Madonna flopped her tits out – again.–whatever-their-age-20141203-11ywei.html

Madonna  recently posed for a provocative photo spread in Interview magazine (I’ve heard of that publication which in itself blunts any cutting edge it may lay claim to). The material girl is seen gyrating about in classy lingerie, fetish gear and in one shot bares her breasts. The triumph referred to in the headline lies in the fact that at age 56 Madonna actually looks good.

Its a classy lingerie shot but a triumph for women?

Its a classy lingerie shot but a triumph for women?

As you know Mumabulous is far from prudish. The sight of Madonna’s boobies does not shock me. Mind you western society has had over 30 years to acclimatize to Madonna’s breasts. Their shock value has diminished somewhat. Ironically she’s often praised as being the queen of re-invention but here she is in her late 50s dishing out the same old schtick. Bondage gear be soo 1992.

This latest addition to Madonna’s (ahem) body of work has me oscillating like Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard. I’m all “Yeh but, Nah but, Yeh but, Nah but”

This is me looking at Madonna's tatas.

This is me looking at Madonna’s tatas.

On one hand I am genuinely pleased that an older woman (at 56 Madonna certainly qualifies) can be considered attractive and sexual. On the other I am more than a little irritated that women feel they need to whip their tits out to be viewed as valuable and relevant to society. Where does it end? Will Madonna be slapping her fun bags against her gold plated Versace zimmer frame as she totters triumphantly into the the nursing home.

The wonderful Caitlin Moran has provided a very simple litmus test for what she calls “patriarchal bullshit”.

“You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly enquiring, ‘And are the men doing this, as well?’ If they aren’t, chances are you’re dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as ‘some total fucking bullshit’.”

Overwhelmingly successful middle aged men are NOT undressing to garner attention and demonstrate their worth. Why then should Madonna feel compelled to?  Madonna is sitting on the very pin prick of the pinnacle of success. According to Wealth X she recently upsurped Sir Paul McCartney as the world’s richest living recording artist with a net worth of approximately US 800m. Now there’s some bodacious assets!

Surely all Madge needs to do is flash her bank statements to prove a point. Meanwhile Sir Paul, despite being an A-grade crumpet in his day, is not known for his edgy naked photo shoots. (Believe me I looked hard for them ). Madonna’s male peers – think George Michael, Bono, Prince, Bruce Springsteen etc are keeping their clothes well and truly on. This is a blessing in the case of Prince* but I’d be happy  to see The Boss lose his classic white T-shirt. An outstanding (really really outstanding) exception to this is Jon Bon Jovi.  The photo below is indeed a triumph for women of all ages.

Oh my! The sisterhood thanks you JBJ.

Oh my! The sisterhood thanks you JBJ. You give feminism a GOOD name.

If anything, when an aging gentlemen in possession of a large fortune wants to prove he’s still “got it”, he keeps his gear on and poses with a scantily clad young lassie. I point to Exhibit A below in support of my case and apologize profoundly for any retinal damage caused.

And so this is Xmas. And what has Geoff done. He's bagged himself a hawtie. Bare boobs and bare bum.

And so this is Xmas. And what has Geoff done? He’s bagged himself a hawtie. Bare boobs and bare bum. Everybody sing now!

To my (albeit warped) way of thinking true gender equality wont be achieved until we’re copping sights like this on Instagram.

A very Gina Christmas

A very Gina Christmas.

I think we’ll be waiting for quite some time. Meanwhile the voice of reason came from my husband when he said ” What kind of messed up society are we living in when flopping out your tits is a triumph? That’s a terrible message to women – telling them that the most important thing they can do is get naked”.  Whoa – Go Dadabs! Nikolaj Coster-Waldau I insist that you take this shirt off and hand it to my husband immediately. Win / Win!

because Game of Thrones is known for its feminist credentials.

because Game of Thrones is known for its feminist credentials**

So what do you think?  Is Madonna posing in her underwear at this late stage of the game a triumph for women? Or is it merely more evidence that women are valued by their looks above everything else? Doesn’t she look fab though?



* I am a BIG fan of Prince’s music.  The Little Red Corvette is one of my fav songs of all time. BUT I’d prefer he didn’t nude up.

** Nikolaj Coster Waldau plays Jamie Lannister on Game of Thrones – just one of several reasons why YOU SHOULD WATCH IT!


31 thoughts on “Madonna’s Triumph?

  1. Great post. I know when I’m being fed bullshit in the name of equality but sometimes don’t know how to articulate it. Caitlin Moran is my go to girl for this. How is it that have we’ve paddled up the sexist shit creek only to find Geoffrey Edelston waiting for us, zimmer frame to one side, with open arms ready to breed! (viagra has a lot to answer for).
    Love your writing and loved that you’ve called this out.

  2. Yes, she looks fabulous. If you like that sort of thing. She also has an entire personal gym in the house next door, hours to exercise daily, personal chefs, nutritionists and trainers on hand, and is not averse to a little medical assistance of the plastics variety.

    She SHOULD jolly well look good compared to the average 56 year old woman.

    This isn’t even addressing the inherent misogyny and just plain bad taste involved in describing a woman with her gear off as a triumph for all women.

    She is a triumph for her lifestyle. I think this has actually shown her to be irrelevant and out of touch. I’m not a fan of Madonna nor women having to strip to prove their worth.

    • Exactly Kimba. The subtext is that a 56 yo woman can be sexy if she looks like Madonna but most of us understand that not even Madonna looks like Madonna when she rolls out of bed in the morning.

  3. This set me off on a big brain explosion public vent (in the real world). Firstly, it is not an achievement to pose naked. You don’t cure cancer by posing naked, you don’t solve climate change by posing naked, you don’t help the poor, sick and discriminated by posing naked. You pander to your own vanity. That’s it – good for you.
    While you can pretend it’s good feminism, I will say, Elizabeth Blackburn sticking it to George Bush when he was the president, fully clothed, is something admirable. Flaunting yourself naked is not really empowering women to be stong confident women.
    Tina Turner turned 75 this week, and she looks AWESOME, fully clothed. Of the 2, I am jealous of the fabulous Ms Turner still rockin’ it at 75. If I’m to base a woman’s worth on something as superficial as her appearance.
    As for a woman to be admired? Amy Poehler is getting my vote – you will see a number of posts from me on her awesome world view shortly. But even so, I’d be disappointed if she started strutting around in her underwear ‘to prove a point’.
    And from the pic you posted, it looks like Madonna’s had work on her face, so not rockin’it quite as much as she pretends….

  4. Madonna does look good but she has money and staff and stuff! Of course even if you’ve got all that at your disposal you still have to have motivation and she quite obviously has oodles of that and so good for her!! It’s quite obvious she’s had *work* done on her face coz it’s WAY too smooth for a 56 year old. I’m 50 and while I don’t look like Madonna (far from it) – I do believe that woman can still be sexy at this age. In fact I think mature women are super sexy!! Err…that Geoffrey and whatever her name is – revolt me *GAG*!!

  5. Great post!!! Haven’t we all seen Madonnas boobies before, they were rather pointy in their past life if I remember correctly…. Yes she looks good, it’s amazing what airbrushing and a personal trainer can do!

  6. Great article. I love Madonna. I’ve been a fan since I was about, dunno, 8 or 9 when she burst onto the scene. I think she has pushed boundaries. However, this is not one of them. I agree that society doesn’t generally value older women or consider them beautiful, but the images are, at best, a superficial commentary about that and does nothing to improve the situation.

    • I like much of her music too. I admire her success and the way she has managed her amazing career. Its just that calling naked pictures a triumph for feminism is a bridge too far.

  7. I feel sad for Madonna (although the fact she has $800million cheers me up a bit…) – I love her and think she is great, but not sure she feels the same way about herself…cause if she did she might be off on a desert island with the above rather glorious Jon Bon Jovi …- showing him her boobies (am I allowed to say that?…and letting the rest of us just see her classy side.. Great post. Mx

  8. It’s just mainstream media playing into the hands of the voyeuristic tendencies most people have. Madonna has always been slightly unhinged and the media love her for it. Thanks for linking x

  9. She needs to change tack. She did it when she was young and it’s passe. She’s done the coffee table book and the movies so I guess she’s running out of ideas. It’s definitely not a triumph unless you’re talking about the bra manufacturers of the same name.

  10. My litmus test for all things anti-feminist: “Does it make Hugzilla want to cry?”. Yes, it does. “Blah, blah having my tits out empowers me”. Whatevs. All it does is reinforce the status quo that rewards women for getting their tits out. Same old story.

  11. Nope, no desire to see prince in the nuddy. JBJ is looking fab for 52, or is there some airbrushed abs going on there? Still. Mmmm. I can see Mads getting her boobs out in another 20 years and hearing the same old ho hum. The thing that shits me is she will still be hot at 76! While I am tripping over my boobs at 62!

  12. Mumabs, I’m thrilled to read this. I had much the same thought and asked the question- wouldn’t it be more of a triumph if she went photoshop free as well? And showed what a healthy, aging body can look like? Why remove every line and sag? This is not a triumph. They are beautiful photos but they do not represent women in their fifties.
    And regarding Geoff E- I’m just gonna leave this here for you…

  13. Sigh. I love Amy’s suggestions above. Let’s celebrate real women, their achievements, clothes on, minus photoshop 🙂

  14. She looks fab but you’re totally spot on. If she was a male then she wouldn’t have done this.
    Women are often perceived visually before they are anything else. Shame really as like you said, she has such a great body of work behind her that really that should be enough x

  15. I think it’s just Madonna being Madonna. I’d be more surprised if she covered up! (And I’m a huge Madonna fan) And Prince, and yes would prefer he didn’t nude up either! As for JBJ….ah yes please!

  16. No it’s not a triumph at all. Put the fun bags away Madonna and try doing something useful with your time. Sheesh!

  17. I don’t think anything that Madonna does can be considered representative of women more generally. She is definitely one of a kind! #TeamIBOT.

  18. Your post was both funny and thoughtful. I am tired of famous talented women posing in their underwear or in the nude. As you say, famous men or rich men aren’t required to do this to get people to read their stories.

  19. “You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly enquiring, ‘And are the men doing this, as well?’ If they aren’t, chances are you’re dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as ‘some total fucking bullshit’.” Perfect.

    This is a cut and paste from a comment I made on Tegan’s blog just recently. Apologies for the length.

    Feminism can be easily summed up – do you think women are given equal treatment, conditions and respect in society? Do you think they should be? If the answer to the first is no and the second is yes, then bingo, you’re a feminist. There are angry feminists, calm feminists, clever feminists, not so bright feminists, but that is absoluteIy all it means, there is no amorphous blob of “feminists” who look or act in the same way, they are old and young, all races, all and no religions, both sexes.

    Tell you what is irritating, the constant catch cry “But isn’t feminism all about choice?” as a way of defending some of the ridiculous (imho) choices women make.

    Um, no. Feminism is about ensuring women are granted political, social, and economic equality with men.. The fact that feminism gave you the opportunity to make the choice to do certain things does NOT necessarily make them feminist choices and does NOT make you impervious to any criticism. If I see a person doing something that harms women as a class I have just as much right to point that out, whatever your sex, as you do to behave in a fashion that harms other women.

    Women are taught from their first breath that their main value and worth is in their looks. There is one easy way to combat this – we all need to stop commenting on what women look like. Full stop. In the past I have been guilty of it too, a few years ago I cottoned on. We are brought to believe it is acceptable. It’s not.

    Unless you have an existing relationship with that person just think what you want and say nothing. Not positive. Not negative. No woman anywhere is ever missing out on anything at all by a stranger not “complimenting” her and if she wants your criticism she can ask. Yes, society will still function and the opposite sex will absolutely still find ways to get together.

    Bottom line, every one of us needs to let go of the notion that women exist for our approval or disapproval. Think whatever you want, and stay silent about it, unless she asks, or unless you know her personally in which case you can define your own rules. It’s the only way things are going to change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s