By Wendy Widom
CHICAGO (CBS) — She assaulted his face.
At the Coachella music festival on Sunday, 56-year-old Madonna stunned Drake and the rest of the world when she planted a big one on the lower half of his face. The kiss itself was cringe-worthy, but it pales in comparison to Drake’s repulsed gasp for air immediately after.
I fully support self-expression and rejoice when famous women challenge the status quo. I’m in love with Pink this week, who told body critics after a public appearance on Sunday, “I am perfectly fine, perfectly happy, and my healthy, voluptuous and crazy strong body is having some much deserved time off. Thanks for your concern.”
But self-expression should not include forcing your tongue into another person’s mouth.
A small part of me empathizes with Madonna. She spent decades shattering the myth of the good girl. She forced men and women to confront our puritanical beliefs about sexuality.
Through her art and music, women came to realize that we are not subservient to men’s desires. While her singing voice may have been weak, her message was steadfast: a woman is in charge of her body.
Now she’s just an “old lady” in weird clothes, according to a friend, a teacher, who said a student of his offered that description.
Madonna’s behavior at Coachella has brought out our snide side. Poor Madonna, we cluck. See what happens when you base your whole persona on your sexuality, which obviously fades when you’re a woman and get older? Can’t she see how irrelevant she is?
Yet here we are, days later, still thinking about that unpleasant exchange of saliva. Some of us are pausing, uncomfortably, to acknowledge that our response would have been outrage if a man had forced a woman into a kiss. Others among us know that a 56-year-old man kissing a 28-year-old woman would be referred to as no big deal.
While we may want to write Madonna off as irrelevant or tacky, the fact is that she’s forcing us yet again to challenge our preconceived notions of women. Perhaps that was the point of the kiss. Madonna has no desire to age gracefully or squeeze into the rigid role we expect of her.
Regardless of her motivations, the kiss was uncouth. But it did get our attention, as Madonna always does, eventually. I wonder what she’ll do with it this time around.