Madonna: The New Feminist

I stumbled across this article in the New York Times last night and it makes a nice little footnote to Rachel’s Madonna/”Everybody” Story Behind the Styles. As of last week the Times is celebrating the 40-year anniversary of its Op-Ed section, and rerunning “greatest hits” pieces from over the decades. “Finally, a Real Feminist,” was posted today (or yesterday? the day before? NYT please start dating all of your multimedia pieces, especially anything T magazine so I’m not always in the dark about what is old and new news. Thanks.) is by one of my own greatest-hits list of favorite social critics, Camille Paglia, who penned this piece about Madonna as a “new feminist” in 1990. It was a great read then—the story drew a ton of attention—and it’s a great read now. Paglia explains/defends the piece in a short video, looking back on the post-feminism era and what Madonna signified in popular culture at the time. I remember when this story came out. I was a student at Moore College of Art and Design, an all-women art college about 10 blocks from University of the Arts where Paglia taught a legendary class about social criticism. She was the hot-button topic at our school; you either loved her or hated her but everyone wished she taught at Moore. When Paglia’s piece about Madonna came out it added confusion to her already juxtaposed image: Was she a feminist or a whore and could you be both? It sounds very quaint and naive now, but Madonna was the only one breaking down these kinds of barriers at the time, so she was always creating divisive conversations and food for thought. Both the video and essay are quite short, but certainly an interesting look back on this woman that we no longer argue about, but simply accept as a cultural icon.

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2 Responses to “Madonna: The New Feminist”

  • Cody Bay:

    She’s so right on! If Bop had pictures of Paglia in it, I would have put those on my wall, too :)

  • I’d like to see a conversation between Paglia and Tavi. The old guard versus the new-new-new feminist.

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