By Sijal Rehmane
We’ve already spoken about Malala Yousafzai on this blog. We’ve also been vocal about how we feel regarding Madonna’s very special tribute to her at an L.A. concert which took place the very next day. However, the time has now come to have a more serious talk about Madonna’s actions and what they mean for someone in Malala’s position.
Madonna is a consumer product. In particular, an entertainment product. She puts herself and her work out there for the purposes of monetary gain. In the process, she sometimes brings attention to her politics, her religious beliefs, and various other things she thinks she stands for.
Often, if not always, she does this in ways that stir up significant controversy.
Let’s not pretend that this happens by accident. One does not get to where Madonna is by being oblivious to how people will react to what one does.
Therefore, let us not mince words as to what exactly Madonna has done here.
Malala— an extremely brave, very young girl from a part of the world that is presently wholly unsafe and under siege by religious fundamentalist militants— has defied her surroundings and put her life at risk to stand up for something she very strongly believes in. As a result, she has actually suffered bodily harm at the hands of those she dared to defy. She is now fighting for her life. Her safety is still at risk.
Madonna has taken all of this and turned it into a P.R. stunt.
Let me spell it out for you once more here, in case you don’t see how this is so: Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head at point-blank range for promoting the so-called “Western ideal” of education for women, in a religious nation.
Madonna payed tribute to this girl’s contributions and condemned her fate by stencilling Malala’s name across her lower back and proceeding to strip down to her bra, thong, and fishnets on stage.
It is probably pertinent to emphasize at this point that Malala comes from the kind of cultural background that prizes modesty in women and is herself in the habit of covering her head when out in public.
Fun fact: Malala also falls approximately four years short of the age limit for attending a Madonna concert without adult supervision.
Let’s just pause to acknowledge that it is, in fact, very nice indeed of someone in Madonna’s position to bring attention to such a horrendous act.
Now, let’s proceed to accept that there are many, many other ways in which this could have been done—ways that are less uncomfortable, less inappropriate, less offensive.
Did Madonna think her actions would be condoned by all concerned?
Much like her “ironic” reference to Barack Obama as the "black Muslim in the White House", it’s difficult to believe that Madonna was not fully aware that this was one hell of a way to make the L.A. stop of her MDNA tour one that would be talked about for a while.
And look at that, here we are, talking about it.
Kudos to you, Madonna. Thank you for trivializing a fourteen-year-old girl’s very life down to an excuse to show us that you’ve still got a rocking body at 54.
Very noble. Extremely impressive.
We hope your life is all the more enriched for it.