Discourse

Madonna wants you to know that she's being oppressed

Madonna wants you to know that she's being oppressed. The boot of patriarchy is on her neck, she says, and she just can't take it anymore.
Libby Emmons
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

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Madonna believes 'the patriarchy' is keeping her down. The boot of patriarchy is on her neck, she says, and she just can't take it anymore. But the only boot on Madonna's neck is her own.

Madonna laments how the forces of patriarchy try to crush her "neck" and "cut off" her "life force" and "take away" her "voice." But the thing is, with her money, influence, and cultural reach, she can do literally anything she wants. She could make all of her own art without asking anyone permission. She could buy an island. She could give all away all her cash and assets to people who are actually oppressed.

Instead, Madonna complains that the man is keeping her down. In a vague post, Madonna writes: "The Patriarchy continues to try to crush my neck with their heavy boots, cut off my life force and take away my voice—Even those who call themselves artists..............You know who you are!!! DEATH TO THE PATRIARCHY! Now and Forever. #riskwhatyouvalue #valuewhatyourisk"

Madonna is worth some $590 million. She's reportedly the third richest singer in the world after U2's Bono and Paul McCartney, who co-founded The Beatles, which are regularly lauded as the greatest rock band of all time.

So how exactly is "the patriarchy" keeping Madonna down?

If it weren't for the patriarchy, and the confusion we all seem to have regarding the simultaneous desire for a mother and a whore all rolled into one, Madonna would never have had a career. Her first major track, "Like a Virgin," was all about this innocent bad girl who was both naive and pure and just aching for it all at the same time.

If it weren't for the patriarchy, and our culture's incredible confusion about what it is that we truly desire, that song would not have been controversial, it would have been just another pop song. But it wasn't. It spoke to a generation, made deep inroads into the discourse of pop culture, and propelled Madonna to super stardom.

If it weren't for the patriarchy, Madonna would have no career. She has made her money, her reputation, and gained her fame as a result of using her female assets in a way that made the patriarchy simultaneously gasp and draw closer.

Despite her missive about being oppressed by the patriarchy, the patriarchy gave Madonna a boost. Madonna's greatest talent is not her voice, but her ability to be a provocateur, and she's made use of that skill time and time again in her career. So what is she talking about?

In her speech to the Women's March in 2017, formed after the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency, Madonna asked her fellow pissed-off women to "shake up the world" and invited them to "the revolution of love. To the rebellion. To our refusal as women to accept this new age of tyranny." She made waves by saying that she'd "thought of blowing up the White House." She cursed loudly, and bemoaned the electorate's pick as to who should hold executive office.

She demanded sacrifice of her listeners, saying that what was required was "Change that will require sacrifice, people. Change that will require many of us to make different choices in our lives, but this is the hallmark of revolution." Madonna said she was "angry," said she was "outraged," and said, in closing, "I choose love."

It was hard to know what she was even talking about both in the aftermath and in the moment, for those in attendance, of which I was one. But harder still is trying to fathom just how, in what universe, one of the richest artists in the world can believe she is being oppressed by anyone or anything.

How could Madonna possibly feel that there's a boot on her neck? And if she has a boot on her incredibly wealthy neck, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Madonna is not oppressed because there is no one but herself who can oppress her. If she does not think she is the master of her own destiny, then she is mistaken.

That one of the richest pop stars in the world believes that she is somehow kept down on account of her sex belittles the reality of those who are kept down by virtue of their reproductive anatomy, of which, globally, there are many.

The only boot on Madonna's neck is her own. If she doesn't want to see herself in relation to the patriarchy, she should probably stop making her money off of her relationship to men, maleness, and sexuality. But of course, that wouldn't do much for her earning power.

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