As a cultural phenomenon, Madonna has been the object of studies and research in the field of Cultural Studies as well as Gender Studies. Through her long career, Madonna has used her performances and video clips as texts that deconstruct gender norms, being able to ‘alter gender relations and to destabilize gender altogether’ (Kaplan 1992: 273). She has also been taken as a point of reference for the postfeminist interest in so-called ‘raunch culture’ (Levy 2005), which advocates sexual provocativeness and promiscuousness by women as women. Moreover, her visual performances, integrated by symbolic aspects, which refer to subcultural groups, address African Americans, Hispanics, LGBTQ+ communities, feminists and others who represent minority or subordinate positions in relation to the dominant cultural and political power (Schwichtenberg 1993). Madonna’s music videos always contain different layers of ideas and structures and various discourses (Herr 2004): Madonna shows a world of which she is not necessarily a part, but to which she nevertheless seems to be attracted and it is rendered possible through the disappearance, and simultaneous multiplication, of the female body through masquerade and androgyny, which are both important features in Madonna’s and (post-) modern cultural transformations. In particular, as an artist, Madonna has become an icon for the LGBTQ+ community more for her performances than for her lyrics. Across her career, and even within a single album, there is an incredible range of styles and lyrical content: Madonna has consistently refused to be placed into a single, stable category, creating a complex paradox. It is precisely her fluidity and flexibility that allows the ‘Madonna Queen’ to reserve a special place for her in gay imagination (Clifton 2004). In her lyrics, self-determination and quest for personal identity, as well as love and mutual understanding, are the major topics and her feminist and raunchy role stems from her video and live performances. Moreover, only three or four songs are centred on sexual practices and they have a peculiar female perspective by expressing explicitly desire and pleasure. Through the framework provided by Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis, it is possible to identify the way in which Madonna defied Heteronormativity (Motschenbacher 2010) while expressing female sexual desire. Thus, the paper aims to focus on two of her song lyrics, similar in their topic but published in different years, where sexual desire and practices are examples of resistance to the heteronormativity. In stating her female point of view, as a young woman in 1992 and as a mature woman in 2015, seeking for pleasure and desire, Madonna reinforces her status of post-modern subcultural icon, maintaining a strong appeal to the LGBTQ+ audience.

Defying heteronormativity by expressing female desire in song lyrics: Madonna, pleasure and LGBTQ+ audience.

Salvatore Ciancitto
2022

Abstract

As a cultural phenomenon, Madonna has been the object of studies and research in the field of Cultural Studies as well as Gender Studies. Through her long career, Madonna has used her performances and video clips as texts that deconstruct gender norms, being able to ‘alter gender relations and to destabilize gender altogether’ (Kaplan 1992: 273). She has also been taken as a point of reference for the postfeminist interest in so-called ‘raunch culture’ (Levy 2005), which advocates sexual provocativeness and promiscuousness by women as women. Moreover, her visual performances, integrated by symbolic aspects, which refer to subcultural groups, address African Americans, Hispanics, LGBTQ+ communities, feminists and others who represent minority or subordinate positions in relation to the dominant cultural and political power (Schwichtenberg 1993). Madonna’s music videos always contain different layers of ideas and structures and various discourses (Herr 2004): Madonna shows a world of which she is not necessarily a part, but to which she nevertheless seems to be attracted and it is rendered possible through the disappearance, and simultaneous multiplication, of the female body through masquerade and androgyny, which are both important features in Madonna’s and (post-) modern cultural transformations. In particular, as an artist, Madonna has become an icon for the LGBTQ+ community more for her performances than for her lyrics. Across her career, and even within a single album, there is an incredible range of styles and lyrical content: Madonna has consistently refused to be placed into a single, stable category, creating a complex paradox. It is precisely her fluidity and flexibility that allows the ‘Madonna Queen’ to reserve a special place for her in gay imagination (Clifton 2004). In her lyrics, self-determination and quest for personal identity, as well as love and mutual understanding, are the major topics and her feminist and raunchy role stems from her video and live performances. Moreover, only three or four songs are centred on sexual practices and they have a peculiar female perspective by expressing explicitly desire and pleasure. Through the framework provided by Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis, it is possible to identify the way in which Madonna defied Heteronormativity (Motschenbacher 2010) while expressing female sexual desire. Thus, the paper aims to focus on two of her song lyrics, similar in their topic but published in different years, where sexual desire and practices are examples of resistance to the heteronormativity. In stating her female point of view, as a young woman in 1992 and as a mature woman in 2015, seeking for pleasure and desire, Madonna reinforces her status of post-modern subcultural icon, maintaining a strong appeal to the LGBTQ+ audience.
Madonna, Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis, Song Lyrics, Language of pleasure and desire
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/532417
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact