#She Speaks Up

Problem Isn’t Madonna’s face, It’s Her Never-Say-Retire Sexiness

Madonna and her never-say-retire sexiness
I WAS probably just 10 when I heard a song that would soon be a life mantra. ‘Causing a Commotion’ sang Madonna and my soon-to-be rebellious heart.

When girls were meant to be ‘good’, dress in pink and polka dots, Madonna wore lace bras, a sailor’s hat, red lips and little else. She came to us like a forbidden fruit.

As a ‘Material Girl’, she embodied all that we were not supposed to do, to be, to say, to want, to dress like. She caused a commotion alright.

Almost every single she released courted controversy. ‘Like a Prayer’, still in the 1980s, evoked ideas of the Ku Klux Klan, and had her kiss a black saint. The Vatican condemned the video. But Mother Mary’s namesake would have none of it. Subverting Christian tropes became her catnip.

Only a couple of weeks ago, she released a picture of herself on the cover of the newest Vanity Fair.

She’s costumed as Virgin Mary, with a crown, tears streaming and swords piercing her heart in the iconic Seven Sorrows iconography. Her Instagram is on fire with Christians cursing her blasphemy, but the Queen of Pop is used to making noise even as she makes news.

What she isn’t silent about though is when she was trolled for her ‘changed face’, thanks to fillers and surgeries, in an unflattering image of hers at the Grammy awards.

“Once again I am caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny that permeate the world we live in. A world that refuses to celebrate women past the age of 45 and feels the need to punish her is she continues to be strong-willed, hard-working and adventurous,” she wrote on her social media.

We love Madonna and her never-say-retire sexiness

She’s spot on, as the vitriol she continues to receive has much to do with her refusing to fade into oblivion and raise her six children. Instead, she would prefer to date men 40 years her junior, one of whom just broke up with her a few days after the sexist social-media barrage, causing the 64-year-old to have a “crisis of confidence”.

The reaction is similar to what is received by Malaika Arora, who turns 50 this year. Haters hate her for dating a younger man, calling the sensational-looking sexpot a ‘buddhi’ and ‘auntie’ almost daily.

“It’s not like he’s bunking school to date me,” she laughs on her reality show. She also smartly acknowledges that her trolls don’t hate her for being the older person in the relationship, they just can’t deal with the fact that she’s ageing like fine wine.

How dare a woman be sexy at 50?

What should she do then? Dream of grandchildren, knit and sew, bake cakes for a living? She must sacrifice desire, suffer so the men around her shine, stew in menopausal hot flashes and socialise only in kitty parties.

She must not be sexy, must not wear sports bras without a t-shirt, or lace bras under leather jackets even as she lashes tongues for fun with transgender and non-binary types.

Naomi Wolf wrote The Beauty Myth three decades ago, highlighting that women were being held up to unrealistic beauty standards. But we also see a world where patriarchy will not allow women of a certain age to be attractive.

Botox, microneedling, fillers or face-lifts are derided, almost as if a woman’s duty is to curl up and die instead of finding herself some fun and living her best life.

Society doesn’t like to see women in public spaces. If they must appear, they must do as they are told.

They must wear a hijab if they are in Iran, not wear one if they are in India. Their shorts must not be too tiny if they want to play a sport, but must not cover up too much like Serena Williams’ catsuit either.

They are to cater to man-made rules and the male gaze. Which doesn’t like to see women once they are older, self-assured and self-reliant.

Hence, they must retire. Never mind how amazing their career maybe – they may be the prime minister of New Zealand and among the most iconic political leaders ever – but they must retire.

Do not forget the most developed country in the world preferred to elect the bumbling Donald Trump over a sharp-as-tack Hillary Clinton.

The ageing woman diktat is especially a favourite of employers. Instead of choosing women whose kids are almost adult, and can finally put in the “man-hours” (gosh, how I hate that term) in the office, jobs are going to cheap and cheerful Gen Z gals who are only too happy to skip work if their cat is having a mood swing.
So what is a woman over 40 to do with herself?

The only answer to that is exactly what she wants. Tweak it with a little badassery, top it with some tequila and you’ll have the world singing ‘Who’s That Girl?’

Views expressed by the author are their own

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