Madonna Topless and Unrecognizable and the Myth of Naked Lady Empowerment

Madonna began her professional career as a nude art model after moving to New York to pursue her passion for music and marketing. The latter of which would prove to be her true business genius. Madonna’s in-your-face sexuality and sexually provocative styling and the occasional anti-Catholic upbringing heresy grew an average looking, average singing talent to worldwide stardom. At a time unlike today’s completely interchangeable pop stars, in the 1980’s, Madonna controlled her own fate.¬†Whatever came after this ascension, you can never take away her global branding triumph and the hundreds of millions that came with.

At the height of her female pop music star fervor, Madonna was never attributed the mystical and arbitrary powers of female empowerment, feminism, or patriarchal martyrdom. Perhaps she was considered beneath the self-described intellectual, Northeastern liberal arts establishment feminists. A purveyor of sexuality that might somehow arouse men, the ultimate dealbreaker for subjective membership votes in the cadre of the unhappy.

It’s only after aging, slipping through many failed marriages and relationships, poorly single mothering any number of children growing up to runaway as soon as they are able, that Madonna was elevated to the mythical roundtable of the women of the lonely nights. Rounds of increasingly disfiguring plastic surgery, a commitment to various forms of self-flagellating starvation diets, and a solid rape origin story provided Madonna the chance to front the Women’s March in Washington following Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration. That would be the rant where Madonna offered to blow up the White House to much applause. She had arrived among the oppressed.

Madonna began her young adult career nude modeling for extra cash for school and recording (credit: PlayboyPlus)

At 59, and barely resembling her former self, Madonna is free to intermingle feminist and resistance memes online and in concert speeches with topless selfies extolling her $4,000 handbags. Is it an accomplishment to purchase a wildly expensive accessory? She did earn her own money. Though that’s not the point of the visual excess. Nor the point of her bare re-sculpted breasts and facial features.

The rhetorical twists and rationalization turns women must make to promote themselves as productive gender equals whilst effectively insisting that their superficial charms take center stage is rather extraordinary. The solution has been to label gross exhibitionism as empowerment, at least until the point that any male of the species expresses pleasure at the sight of a half-naked or naked woman, at which point the visual becomes gross, the woman exploited, and the man a patriarchal perv. You can have it both ways, provided you constantly and arbitrarily change the rules of the female empowerment game.

Bella Thorne recently announced the unfortunate circumstances of her routine sexual assault victimization during her many years as a young child actress, though not necessarily by somebody in the business. She sandwiched this revelation in between near topless selfies. Ariel Winter routinely provides cheesecake shots of her large breasts and nearly bare rump under the guise of empowerment, because it’s her entirely her choice if a million men are to masturbate to her objectified image that day or not. She defends Kim Kardashian for doing the very same. These are the most obvious social media constructs of the phenomenon of pretending that base shows of sexual appeal are somehow the fuel for the engine of the women’s equality struggle.

Bella Thorne routinely intertwines mostly nude photos between sad tales of exploitation on social media (credit: Instagram)

In less trumpeted ways, female actresses determined to make a Time’s Up stand at Hollywood award shows spend six hours prepping hair and makeup and bust-lines and sparkling jewels in appropriate Versace designer black gowns. The spoken goal: women united against men. The subtext: look how damn hot and physically desirable I am. Granted, the goal is not uniquely to capture the attention of easily visually allured males. The equal measure is to make other women jealous or look less attractive to those same men. Another high minded element of the civil rights movement.

Ariel Winter cries, my body my power, routinely on social media whilst posting bare-ass porn styled shots of her body. (credit: Instagram)

Vanity is a rather human quality, much like sexual desire and aggressiveness and ambition. Though the current climate calls for a complete pardon for the former, in the face of the latter. Women are granted the privilege of wanting to look sexy and amazing and bare their breasts above their gratuitously expensive purses provided they fall in line to the presiding movement precepts. How the hell is Madonna an inspiration to women now, when at the time when she might have been, she was completely rejected by the very same self-appointed leaders of the majority demographics minority civil rights movement?

The gross superficiality of the movement counters the intensely angry liturgy of its true believers. You can’t show off to men in an attempt to garner base attention then lambaste the same gender for treating you as a trifle object of momentary entertainment. Actually, you can now, because most of the Fourth Estate and those who would otherwise question such hypocrisy are far too cowered to raise relevant questions.

Men snickered and wondered how an enlightened movement of women could provide Harvey Weinstein with hugs and kisses and social rights and progressive awards through the years as he abused them behind closed doors. In a less serious manner, men giggle every time a woman refers to Leonardo DiCaprio and his similar peers as gentleman, even as they work their way through young lingerie models half their age with contractual turnover and ghosting every few months. DiCaprio exits his trysts out the back doors of hotels. He won’t be photographed together with any of his many girlfriends. What a gentleman. Because he’s cute and supports the right causes. Weinstein was adorable in his one way when shaping careers and making proper donations. Outside of actual assaults, you’d have a tough time convincing men that a women in a slinky gown willingly visiting a man in his hotel room to discuss her career was ever not an equal party to events that follow. Do men have a higher opinion of women’s ability to handle themselves and their own business than other women do? That’s a very fair question.

The Times Up movement members of the Brentwood estate class have conveniently and cynically coupled their struggle to that of the Latina Immigrant Farmworkers. Are those truly struggling women taking time out of their day for down-top selfies and topless moments of pure feminine luxury? As with most injustices in this world, economic and related political power play a far more significant role than immutable qualities such as gender or race. Rich people of all shades do quite well for themselves in comparison to those financially struggling. The incredibly privileged white women of Hollywood behind much of the current gender rights movements no little of real oppression. That is until you re-frame Botox and face lifts and breast implants as the yoke of patriarchal oppression. That almost makes it seem involuntary. Ergo, the struggle.

Madonna was breaking all the rules in her 1993 book, Sex, which was, basically, sex.

Madonna’s breasts are not particularly important in the grand scheme of things. Least of all to the Moroccan backup dancer of the week she forces to pretend to be her heteronormative lover. Though it raises the conundrum of a civil rights struggle wherein the advocates are so inherently inclined to undermine their own cause by consistently excusing the weaker parts of their case.¬† If women need attention for their looks, and even beyond wealthy grandmothers are posting topless selfies on Instagram to garner a few more compliments and likes, what does that mean to the cause of woman as equal to and entirely independent of outside approval?

Women are increasingly and widely now doctors, researchers, key political figures, soldiers, and entrepreneurs. Yet the focus of their coverage, in female media outlets, run by women for women, remains fashion, style, beauty, hair, makeup, celebrity, shocking nudity and holistic vanity. There’s some serious housekeeping to be done before throwing out the wide net of blame on men. A Madonna topless prohibition might be step one.