Thursday, August 28, 2008

Human Nature

The following question was asked in the Secular Sexuality group on Atheist Nexis.

What is your response to this video?

My response follows.

The juxtaposition of the lyrics - expressing a desire for sexual freedom - with the video - depicting a visual theme of Bondage & Domination - is very interesting, and illustrates the message of the song very well.

We human beings are sexual beings. A rather self-evident statement, as is the following statement: There ain't nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, the second statement is one that continues to be needed to be expressed. The repression of sexuality, particularly of female sexuality, is an evil that is still present in our society, and an evil that ought to be fought against.

I did hesitate in using the word 'evil', given the religious overtones of the word. But is it a word that I think appropriate to adopt in terms of secular morality or ethics. It does have a force of meaning that 'moral wrong' or 'ethical wrong' just doesn't express. In the secular world, we generally have no problem with condemning slavery as an evil. The shaming of women, and also of men, for the expression of their sexual desire is also an evil.

Though the song is, I'm guessing, a personal response by Madonna to the criticism she has received for her unashamed sexual expression in her art, it is also a song for all women. The lyric "Would it sound better if I were a man?" is perhaps the most important of the song in expressing the double standard regarding the expression of human sexual desire and activity that does exist within our societies: men can fuck around and do whatever, women must be contained in a box. It is a lyric that also anticipates the criticism Madonna expects to receive simply for expressing her desire for sexual liberation.

Generally speaking I've not been a great fan of Madonna over the course of her career. But I am becoming more of a fan the more I understand what it is she is actually expressing through her music. Madonna is an important cultural icon, and messages such as the one she is expressing in this music video are the type we need to hear more of.

And adopt into our culture.

(tip o' the hat to The Nerd)

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