On the eve of the inauguration, Madonna, the woman whose career seems to personify the idea of “pussy grabs back” in pop culture, gathered at the Brooklyn Museum to join a moderated discussion with artist Marilyn Minter. Throughout the talk, the Hillary Clinton supporter didn’t seem defeated by the election results. Instead, she seemed energized if not reborn by the prospect of the challenges the Donald Trump administration would present.
While she once famously shied away from the term “feminist” in favor of “humanist,” she appeared in a black t-shirt emblazoned with the “feminist” label. At one point she promised to slap every man in the room who also didn’t identify with the term. This is a Madonna who, as always, is always ready to change with the times and up for a fight, but one sharpened with the wisdom of experience.
Minter and Madonna talked openly about the ideas of aging while still incorporating sexuality into their work, the troubles that have always faced female creatives, and the criticism and abuse they’ve both faced throughout their career.
The talk soon, however, turned to Trump, as most conversations do these days. Minter expressed her initial horror.
“This is the most frightened I’ve ever been,” said Minter. “I’ve never been frightened by my government before. I’ve been really angry at them, and I’ve watched Nixon, the AIDS crisis and two Bushes, and this is like the first time everything is really upside down. What I thought was happening was not what was happening. The most qualified candidate that ever ran was beaten by the most unqualified candidate that ever ran because of misogyny, baked in misogyny.”
Madonna, however, views Trump’s win as a wake-up call.
“I’m just as horrified as you are, but I do believe that Trump was elected for a reason: to show us how lazy and un-unified and lackadaisical and taking-for-granted we’ve become of our freedom and the rights we have as Americans,” she said. “They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. This had to happen to bring people together—so let’s get this party started!””
“I feel like history is just repeating itself over and over and over again,” she elaborated later on. “Our nature is to be, well, several things. One is fearful of the unknown, scared of what we don’t know, what we don’t understand and to react to that fear is some pretty disgusting ways. So once we have something handed to us on a platter, which is freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom to have ownership of our reproduction all of those things, we take it for granted, When we start taken it for granted we lose appreciation.
“Everybody knows this if you don’t appreciate something you’re going to lose it,” she added.
“In this past few years we were going towards progress in such a monumental way,” followed up Minter. “it’s almost like this last gasp of patriarchy just grabbed it away.”
“Yeah, but do you think people really appreciated that? What we were doing?” countered Madonna.
In the end, both artists concluded that the only way to move forward was with a renewed energy for creation and activism.
“The only way I could feel better is thinking ‘Ok, well I’m going to start doing activism again,” said Minter at one point. “Great art comes out of this kind of thing all the time.”
As for Madonna, she said, “We only have two choices: destruction and creation. I’m going down the road of creation, and you’re all welcome to join me.”
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