by Eve Vawter
There have been many times when Madonna was (rightfully) called out for cultural appropriation. When she referred to herself as "ratchit" (sp), when she defaced photos of Nelson Mandela and MLK Jr. to promote her Rebel Heart album, when she wore a sari, and kimono, and bindi, when she referred to her young son as the N-word on Instagram.
Madonna is problematic; she has always been problematic.
But when it comes time to defend her as she has been a constant victim of ageism, a lot of women are happy to look the other way. Is it because we are fed up with her antics, that she's no longer culturally relevant, or is it because we don't see women being age-shamed as anything to get upset about?
Madonna has written on Instagram previously that:
"The fact that people actually believe a woman is not allowed to express her sexuality and be adventurous past a certain age is proof that we still live in an ageist and sexist society."
She's absolutely correct. I have seen many headlines where Madonna is described as "looking old" or "dressing inappropriately for her age" when her male contemporaries, men like Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen who are much older than Madonna, are rarely called out for their dyed hair or skinny jeans. It's only with women that we let this narrative go unnoticed.
Ageism is a huge problem in our culture, especially for women. Age discrimination can begin in the workplace for women as early as age 35. Hollywood movies rarely show us women over the age of 35 in lead roles. Every day American women are bombarded with advertisements for procedures and products to make us look younger and slow down the aging process. And it isn't like we can suddenly stop aging. Every one of us will get older, if we're lucky.
Even though Madonna can be problematic for a lot of reasons, being older should never be one of them. She should be allowed to wear whatever she wants, perform however she wants, live her personal life how she wants — as long as that doesn't include appropriating another culture.