This past weekend, the Internet was in an uproar over Drake and Madonna’s Coachella make-out session.
The reason behind the uproar was, ostensibly, Drake’s surprised reaction to the kiss—he made a disgusted face and asked the audience, “What the f—k just happened?” Twitter instantly blew up after the incident, casting aspersions about Madonna’s age, and reprimanding her for kissing a man half her age.
The following day, Drake attempted to downplay his reaction by posting to Instagram that fans shouldn’t “misinterpret [his] shock”, and then proceeding to thank Madonna for the kiss.
The entire scenario was a series of judgments from the media without much context other than Drake’s initial reaction, but what I’m more interested in is the incident itself. Firstly, no matter how old Madonna is, she grabbed Drake and forcefully kissed him. That is an assault, even if he, as he said, feels “100 about that forever.” Madonna exhibits no shame for what she did, even going so far as to post the same picture on Instagram with the hashtag, #bitchimmadonna.
Living in a world where the journey toward gender equality is perpetually ongoing, it’s vital that we focus on equality for both genders. If a man were to grab a woman during a performance and kiss her without her permission, he’d receive copious amounts of media criticism and backlash. It wouldn’t matter how old the two parties were: what matters is that it’s without their permission. Madonna kissed Drake without his permission in front of millions of people and instead of focusing on that, the media was in a frenzy about her age.
If Madonna had pulled this stunt back when she was in her 20s, the media would probably have laughed it off, and she would have received publicity for it above anything else. No one would mention the fact that she had assaulted another artist because, well, she’s Madonna. Who could fathom the thought that someone might not want to be forcibly kissed by Madonna? We’re focusing on her age rather than her blatant disregard for Drake’s consent, and that is a huge problem.
Madonna has since been passive-aggressively addressing the ageist comments made about her via social media. I don’t think that it’s fair for Madonna to be targeted for her age. Yes, she’s older, and people of my generation don’t regard her much as a current celebrity anymore, but the ageist remarks are not warranted. They are especially not warranted because they are making light of a much bigger issue. Madonna especially seems to be focused on the fact that she was criticized for her age, not for what she did. This only further perpetuates the idea that it’s okay for a woman to use her celebrity to take advantage of a man in that way—just not an old woman. Because of the age criticism, Madonna doesn’t seem to feel like she’s done anything wrong. This issue is much bigger than ageism—this is also an issue of where men fit in the feminist community.
We are finally getting to a point in our society where we pay attention to abuse and assault, and have realized what a serious issue it is. However, we place so much emphasis on assault and abuse against women that often, assault and abuse against men are deemed less important and less prevalent. But ten percent of sexual assault victims in the U.S. are male, and those are only the reported cases. We’ve created a belief in our society that men are the only ones who do the assaulting, and we don’t take it seriously when they are in the opposite position. Instead, we laugh it off in the media, and shame the woman who does the assaulting because of her age rather than her actions. If we are to ever get to a point where we have true gender equality in our world, we can’t underestimate the vulnerability of either gender. We have to be able to see things as they are, regardless of gender, regardless of age, only focused on the actions perpetrated and the implications associated with them. Men should be just as involved in the quest for gender equality as women (the word itself implies this, but people forget it all too often).
In light of the incident at Coachella, perhaps we can start being more cognizant of the problems that exist regarding where men stand in the quest for gender equality. Drake was assaulted, and we should acknowledge that. Madonna assaulted him, and it doesn’t matter if she did it at age 56 or if she had done it thirty years ago. What matters is that she did it, and that the media convoluted the issue into one about age rather than assault—which is itself evidence of the inequality that exists involving the way that women and men are perceived, and the gender roles we’re so rigidly bound to.