We like our older women invisible and devoid of sexuality


According to a HuffPost UK Met Gala style report, “nearly naked” outfits were the look of the night. But while teens and 20-somethings have been widely applauded for showing some skin, the treatment of Madonna’s outfit screams double standards and ageism.

After all, we can deal with female nudity, as long as a) we can commodify that body and b) that body is young. Think what you want about Madonna’s outfit, but critique the outfit not her age.

For as long as I can remember, Madonna has been reduced to ridicule. Whether her toned arms were “too manly” or her dance moves in the 2005 Hung Up music video “too thrusty”, we’re constantly reminded by commentators of how old Madonna is and how “she really should know better”.

In the 80s and 90s, Madonna established herself as an unapologetically strong, female role model. She pushed the boundaries of sexuality and femininity to become the ultimate sex symbol and global superstar.

Now, she’s expected to revoke all that, because society can’t handle it when women age. We like our older women invisible and devoid of sexuality.

Whether it’s the music industry, Hollywood or politics, women disappear from public life as they get older. We’re recycled for younger, wrinkle-free women while men get increasingly decrepit and no one bats an eyelid.

Madonna is, much to my delight, utterly unapologetic. This morning, amid the furore, she made her position on the matter very clear.

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