Wednesday 16 January 2019

Harriet Hall: A message for misogynists - the size of Madonna's bum is none of your business

Express Yourself: Madonna was withering in her response to trolls who had attacked her appearance on New Year's Eve
Express Yourself: Madonna was withering in her response to trolls who had attacked her appearance on New Year's Eve

Harriet Hall

We women would sincerely like your advice. We want to know, darling sexists, what you'd like us to do with our bodies. We are obviously incapable of making this decision ourselves.

You see, we've been backed into a bit of a Chinese box. We've become Russian dolls, shedding the layers of our bodily imperfections - each one flawed, not quite… right. We've peeled them off and we've reached our tiny, defenceless core. So now we turn to you. How shall we proceed?

Madonna - that multimillion-dollar popstar, business owner and actor with a career spanning almost four decades - has been forced to make a statement about the appearance of her body to appease you, sexist trolls. Her own body. That's the stage we've reached.

Please sign in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Sign In

Appearing in front of New Year Eve revellers to surprise fans with a secret gig in New York, the singer prefaced her set with a rallying speech about the vital importance of standing up to discrimination and complacency in the face of hatred.

Pictures of the spurring moment began to crop up online soon after - and as has become the brutal circadian rhythm of the internet, a process all too familiar, wax on, wax off - and within moments commenters forgot the megastar's message of positivity and solidarity, instead deciding to… discriminate against her.

Their focus was placed somewhere rather more south of her brain. Madonna's backside became the focus of the conversation. Yes, there really is no escaping it, is there, charming chauvinists?

The singer's rear end, appearing to many larger and more pronounced than it has at other times in her life, became the focus of a fiery online debate, as people reacted to this rotund derrière with outrage.

"Lord, what in the world did Madonna do to her behind????"; "she's destroyed herself"; "I'm so embarrassed for her"; "I think the saddest ending to 2018 is finding out that Madonna got butt implants." The irony seems to have been lost on this final commenter, that really, the saddest thing about women's position in 2018 is we're still having this conversation at all.

Responding to the faux-concerned, Madonna posted a selfie on Instagram with the caption: "Desperately seeking no one's approval … and entitled to free agency over my body like everyone else!!"

There was no need to respond. By responding at all, Madonna appeared to have finally reached boiling point. For this is a woman to whom bodily criticism comes as naturally as a pay check. Madonna is all too familiar with condemnation like this. Her body has been policed since she was 24.

That she still even has a career at the age of 60 in an appearance-obsessed industry is something worthy of celebration. That she chose to keep fit and enjoy being strong made Madonna repulsive in the eyes of you misogynists, who think women's bodies should fit neatly within the parameters of toned but not muscular.

Our bodies are here for you, after all, aren't they? Madonna's arms were always a focus for you dissenters. A 2008 TMZ article described her as having "monstrously sculpted and bloodcurdling veiny corpse arms". In 2012, chief woman-hater Piers Morgan said, "Grotesque. Why would any woman want to look like a caveman? I'm serious."

Are you happy? You have reduced one of the most powerful women in the world to her flesh. Why do you care if she has had implants? Is this not what you wanted?

If she hadn't had surgery, she would have been "letting herself go", wouldn't she? And we couldn't bear to watch that.

You see, dear misogynists, we are doing what you wanted. We are keeping our bodies as pert and ageless as you've demanded. Plastic surgery is on the increase. Between 2016 and 2017 procedures were up by 7pc.

Women had their buttocks injected, implanted, fat transferred from one part of their bodies to another, their vaginas were cut and plumped, their breasts augmented and their necks lifted - all to feel comfortable within our own skin and remain within the tight parameters you have set.

We are unhappy with our bodies. A 'Loose Women' survey of 5,000 women in 2016 found a whopping 74pc of us agonise about our figures on a daily basis. And that's before we think about our stagnating post-baby careers, our male colleagues being paid more than us, our need to take on the lion's share of the domestic tasks.

Our butts are already on our mind, dear misogynists. Madonna knows this better than most.

Women are virtually weaned on the idea they will need to spend most of their adult life pruning, preening, chopping, scrubbing, waxing and doing other painful procedures in order to appear seal-smooth and hairless. Then when they do, they are criticised for overdoing it. There is a sweet spot of perfection and we must strive to fit within it.

The flawlessness of Madonna's response lies in her refusal to acknowledge whether or not she'd had surgery on her behind and her unwillingness to fall prey to the disgusting speculation that paid no heed to her privacy or personal choices. She stood up for all women when she wrote that caption.

You have put us in this position, dear misogynists. So how do we find the sweet spot? Tell us and we shall obey - so we can focus on more pressing matters.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss