The Feminist Media Reader #13 - Drake, Madonna and Double Standards

by - Friday, April 17, 2015

Image courtesy of Business insider


It's a truth universally known that I will defend Drake for almost anything. While I wish he was completely above falling into the trap of casual misogyny, I find his honest approach to rap suprisingly refreshing, and his more 'sensitive' side endearing rather than emasculating.

That said, I'm going to try and remain objective for this post, because objectivity is the key to rational debate. Y'all don't need to hear about just how many times I've listened to 'If You're Reading This It's Probably Too Late' in the past two months or how I've considered selling half my possessions for a Wireless festival 2015 ticket. You just need to hear my thoughts on Drake, Madonna and THAT THING that went down at Coachella last weekend.

Much has been made in the press of Madonna's 'advancing' age and the suitability of her actions, namely her repeated desire to sexualise herself in a way that a lot of people would consider inappropriate for a woman in her mid-fifties. Now, while I think we can all agree that it'd be a bit grim to turn on your telly and see your mum with her legs open, I am no ageist - I have total respect for her confidence, the way she's obviously looked after her body and the fact that she clearly doesn't particularly care about societies conventions of age-appropriate behaviour. That I applaud and am totally happy with. However, I'm not fine with some of the other things she's been saying recently. Ever heard of intersectional feminism up there in your mansion Madonna?

"Gay rights are way more advanced than women’s rights. People are a lot more open-minded to the gay community than they are to women, period. It’s moved along for the gay community, for the African-American community, but women are still just trading on their ass. To me, the last great frontier is women." (taken from the Independent, here)
Madonna's problematic approach to her own feminism seems to be one that is a)hugely orientated around white women and b)based on shock tactics, to the point that she appears to project a defiance that means she is able to override common decency because of the struggle she, as a woman, has experienced in the past. If channeled for good, this defiance is something that should be actively encouraged in young women - wearing whatever clothes you want to wear, refusing to shave your body hair, being open about your number of sexual partners, whatever it may be. However, when it abused in a 'I can do this to you now because your gender has historically done it to me' approach, you get a situation like this -



In a move that both Drake and Madonna's press have confirmed was completely unplanned, Madonna's appearance during Drake's headline slot at Coachella ended in what look like a very aggressive kiss, where Madonna immobilised Drake's involved and dominated him entirely, leaving the clearly disturbed rapper to ask the audience 'what the fuck just happened?' 

While it's impossible to know exactly what was running through both's heads at the time, the way Drake raises his hand to Madonna's head looks to me like someone who is both very shocked and embarassed, trying to politely remove themselves from a situation they were hugely uncomfortable with. That Madonna pulls his hand and carries on until she's had her fill before sauntering off with a 'Bitch, I'm Madonna' is at best cringey and at worst, deeply disturbing.

Naturally, the feminist media came out in force to support Madonna in a 'You Go Girl!' fashion, but I couldn't help but be left with a nasty taste in my mouth (no pun intended) that suggested that if, were the genders and ages were reversed, society and the media would probably consider to be this incident to be pretty gross form of sexual harassment. That Madonna feels the need to pull of a 'shocking' stunt like this - particularly with a young African American, how conveniently edgy - says worrying things about our state of celebrity, demeaning what great strides she has made in the past for women's issues.

Drake may have laughed it off on social media afterwards, and possibly the line about him grimacing over the flavour of her lipstick rather than the kiss itself might even be true, but this is a man who is already the target of media ridicule for his 'sensitive' ways - maybe he was too afraid of what it might do to his image if he were to admit to the press he felt violated? If we take the argument further, what does this mean for men everywhere who are afraid to report unwanted sexual behaviour for fear of being seen as weak? And what does it mean for young girls who interpret feminism as being able to do everything that men have done to us for centuries, because it's 'payback'? 

Whether Madonna and Drake were pleased with the outcome of that evening or not, such a forceful kiss is a disturbing message to be encouraging in our world's media. Kisses may not be the same as a grope, and obviously not anywhere near as serious as a rape, but it's a slippery slope into a 50 Shades...bullshit world where aggressiveness is deemed 'sexy'. Now there's a thought. 

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