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Unapologetic Bitch – a love letter to Madonna on the 30th anniversary of Like a Virgin

“Why is it that these women have forgotten how great it was to have a role model that not only stuck it to the man, but then stuck it to herself, in herself and tasted it as if to say how dare you moderate my sexuality?”

Barry Church-Woods

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I’m a Madonna fan.

For a lot of people of my generation it came with being gay. Like the pop culture equivalent of the gentleman’s lavender handkerchief or Truman Capote’s dickie bow, loving a certain someone from Rochester, Michigan whilst owning a penis has for a long time insinuated that you would like to get into the groove in a way that doesn’t just involve dancing.

Being a Madonna fan replaced the word bachelor for a while.

My grandmother used to introduce me to her friends as a ‘Madonna fan’.

When I showed up at parties dressed in a conical bra with a fake head-mic on, it was because I was a ‘Madonna fan’.

When I nearly set fire to the back garden, burning crucifixes and dancing in front of them, it was because I was a ‘Madonna fan’.


It seems that lately, Madonna had become a dirty word and the press are ready to crucify her at every step.

She’s recently been in the media for her shocking antics in Malawi.  The terrible thing she did last year?  She built 10 extensions to existing schools creating education opportunities for 500 children and young people.  She should have built 10 schools apparently, but lets be honest, progress is progress no matter how long it takes to get there.

She also got her boob out on tour, came on stage two hours late most nights and called famous nazi Marine Le Penne out for being a…wait for it…a nazi.

Oh, and we mustn’t forget this one.  She adopted two children from a third world country where they were sure to suffer disease and malnutrition from severe poverty, and she…she fed them.  And clothed them.  And gave them a nice home with a nanny.  The cheeky cow.  How dare she?


Around the time of the release of her film W.E., Madonna mentioned in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar that nowadays when anyone writes anything about her, her age is right after her name as if to limit her achievements or remind her that society would like her to stop soon.

A quick online search finds this to be true. It also finds that most of the negativity thrown at her in the past 10 years has been from women. Women that grew up singing along to True Blue in the mirror with a hairbrush, bleaching their hair in the 80s, and wearing lace gloves to weddings when they were kids. Women who it seems would now prefer her to crawl under a rock and stop doing what the world fell in love with her for in the first place.

Why is it that these women have forgotten how great it was to have a role model that not only stuck it to the man, but then stuck it to herself, in herself and tasted it as if to say how dare you moderate my sexuality?


What has made them forget the sheer joy or behaving in complete contradiction to how society would expect them to? The role model that once told them that she wanted to conquer the world seems to have done just that and yes, dreams really do come true.

For some.

Sadly, it seems that many of those little girls being told there was a new tomorrow where anything was possible have now grown into the jaded bitchy fat girls in the corner, unhappy with their 9-5 existence in their cul-de-sac in Bury St. Edmunds (or equivalent), jealous of the continued success of the woman that defined a generation.


Madonna’s last album MDNA was deemed a commercial flop shifting just 2 million copies. While much of the media read it for what it is, a fun up-tempo record with some great production, the same women I’ve been writing about complained that it didn’t have the depth befitting of a 53 year old woman. That someone with children should be singing about heartbreak and pain. That Kate Bush just did an album about fucking a snowman that was brilliant and Madonna should do something similar or give up.

The fact that Madonna’s film W.E. depicts a very real time in history, where a man gave up his throne the be with the woman he loved is not without irony set against the backdrop of calls for a reigning Queen to abdicate her throne to a more suitable suitor. Someone more bendy, more youthful perhaps? Someone that doesn’t wear leotards? Someone that acts her age?

But really, deep down, we know what these critics want.

They want her to fuck off and stop reminding them of all of their failures and broken dreams.


But she can’t.  And shouldn’t.  And mustn’t. And here’s why we need her here to stay in the public eye.  At least another few years.

Growing up in the 80s, girls wanted to be her, boys wanted to fuck her and boyz wanted to fuck like her.  She was an instant role model.


She was the first voice I ever heard saying that homosexuality was an acceptable way of life.

Until then, the only other person I’d heard talk about homosexuality was Jerry Falwell. In 1968 he said that preachers are not called to be politicians, but soul winners, and sixteen years later, his hypocrisy shone through as he led a movement that helped put Ronald Reagan in the White House, conservatives on the Supreme Court, and turned the Democratic South solidly Republican.

Bad.  Yes.

But then he did this.

He funded an international campaign to recognize AIDS as “God’s punishment for being a faggot”.  Not just that.  It was also God’s punishment to the world, for allowing faggots to exist.

Imagine all that power; having a voice like that?  A voice that was heard all over the world.  A voice that was heard by this 13 year old “faggot” in a council estate in West Lothian, Scotland.

Now I was always taught not to speak ill of the dead.  But it is hard when the dead person was a hateful cunt of a man.

His harmful opinions were set against a backdrop of political inefficiency and lack of education about HIV and AIDS that allowed the disease to progress at a rate unheard of before for something that wasn’t airborne.

But then came Like a Prayer.


Amongst all of the controversy of the brilliant video and the scandal of a $5million Pepsi deal gone wrong, Madonna did something wonderful.  Something very simple and under the radar.  Something missed by most parents and God fearing Christians. In the album sleeve-notes, she inserted some writing about the dangers of HIV and AIDS.  And a safe sex message.  In one simple move, she’d countered the hatred and broken the firewall to information…for her fans at least.  Did I mention a lot of them were gay?


From that point on, Madonna started to raise her game.  Acting out in public to get her message across.  Bending the ear of her loyal army of fans and helping the message infiltrate society.

It’s OK to be gay. 

She pushed buttons, she changed fashion, she changed buttons, she pushed fashion.  Her impact was so endless for this 36 year old homo that it actually took me until I was 17 to realise that the Madonna/Whore complex wasn’t a statement about how my sister dressed and was actually rooted in a time before Madame Ciccone.


And to this day, she continues to support the LGBT community across the globe by using her position and status to keep hitting home with the same message:

“You cannot use religion to treat other people badly, you cannot use God’s name to treat other people badly, we all deserve love,”

Change is happening. One day, equality will shine through. But we’re not there yet ,and personally I don’t think it’s time for the LGBT community to lose a voice that defined a generation.

Thank you Madonna.

Madonna outtake shot by Steven Meisel in 1984 for the Like a Virgin Album.


Categories: AIDS Art Bears Bisexual Bullying Celebrities Christianity Coming out Equality Gay HIV Homosexual Icon Lesbian LGBT LGBT History Month Madonna Music Opinion Role Models Scotland Sex Transgender

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