It’s been 30 years since Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” struck up a fuss. Religious groups were enraged by the “blasphemous” video and her scandalous way of dressing. Of course, even Madonna’s once controversial cone bra seems tame by today’s standards. In the 80s though, nothing about Modonna could be considered tame and her boldness paved the way for other female artists to follow.
Madonna did not hesitate to express her sexuality on stage. While some people consider it to be “un-feminist” and inappropriate to dress provocatively, Madonna wanted to challenge the double standards when it came to men and women expressing themselves as sexual beings in the public eye. Rock stars like Axl Rose or icons like David Bowie or Freddie Mercury were praised for their raw sexual energy and raunchy dance moves. Madonna, on the other hand, was called all sorts of insulting names when she writhed on stage in a low-cut wedding dress during her first performance of “Like a Virgin.” At this point, it was something of a revelation that women could enjoy sex and be proud of it.
And so, Madonna empowered future women to embrace their desires. Her image has always been fierce and independent, never fragile or lacking in ambition. In this respect, she paved the way for the modern pop star.
Let us not forget Madonna’s impact on diversity in pop. Her music videos featured dancers of all nationalities and her music videos were often inspired by Latino, black and gay culture – which she proudly paraded. The icon never hesitated to bring her gay and lesbian friends up on stage with her and performed Aids benefit concerts to raise awareness of the disease.
But last of all, Madonna stuck around. The media consistently slandered her for continuing to perform her sexual anthems as a woman over 40. But guess what? Women over 40 have sexual desires too. She is constantly calling the industry out on its ageism and the fact that no one batted an eyelid when David Bowie or other male ’70s icons decided to make a comeback tour.
In her Billboard Woman Of The Year Award 2016 speech Madonna said: “People say I’m controversial… but I think the most controversial thing that I’ve done is to stick around.”
And we’re glad she did, because the ’80s icon is still stirring up positive change.