Christina Patterson: Madonna's got a long wait for her knight in shining armour

 

Share

She's one of the most powerful women in the world. She is, in fact, at least according to Time, which is very keen on lists, one of the 25 most powerful women of the last century. She looks a million dollars, and is worth several hundred million more. But there's one thing Madonna's millions can't buy her. Yup, you've guessed it: love.

"Every girl," she told Graham Norton this week, "wants to be swept off her feet by a knight in shining armour." We "like to think", she said, "that Mr Right" is going to "take us into the sunset, and we're going to live happily ever after". She would like, she said, to get married again.

The top-selling female artist of all time, who once appeared at the MTV Music Awards on a giant wedding cake, wearing a wedding dress and bridal veil, which people at the time took to be ironic, was speaking at the premiere of her film, W.E.

It's about Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. It's about, in other words, a social-climbing American divorcee who tried to break into English society and did rather well. But that, apparently, wasn't what made Madonna want to make the film. "I know what it feels like to be loved a lot," she told another interviewer, "but no one's ever given up their kingdom for me." She was trying, she said, "to understand the nature of their love story" and to "figure out" if there was "such a thing as perfect love".

You might think that a woman who has been married twice, and divorced twice, and who's 53 (but who could, according to the Daily Mail, "easily pass for 15 years younger", apart from the "wrinkly hands" which give away her great, and shameful, age), might have worked out by now that even love stories that involve giving up kingdoms have their moments of disappointment. Since they also involve, you know, human beings. But you might, in that case, be wrong. "I am," says Madonna, "a hopeless romantic."

Some people might be a little bit disappointed that a woman who always said that writhing around without many clothes on, or being photographed without any clothes on, was about something called "female empowerment", still dreams of being rescued by a man. They might think that a woman who has sold more than 300 million records, and has built a massive business empire, and directed films, and written books, and turned herself into a bestselling global brand, might look at her life and think it looked pretty good. Might think, in fact, that it was the kind of life that showed that women in the 21st century didn't actually need a man to survive, or thrive.

They might also think that someone who had done all these things, and still hoped to be rescued by a man, when she was not just over 40 but over 50, which puts you in the category of "older" women men seem to want to be given a medal for saying they fancy, was being rather optimistic. They might want to suggest that she reads some of the studies that say, for example, that a woman's marriage prospects fall by 40 per cent in relation to each 16-point rise in her IQ, and that show that men don't like women who earn more than them. They might think that the word she needs to stress isn't "romantic", but "hopeless".

And they might also want to point out that while romantic love has been a theme of art and literature for a very long time, and pretty much the only theme of pop, which may be part of the problem, it has only rarely been the basis of marriage. That, throughout history, in the West as well as the East, marriage has been largely a practical and economic arrangement which meant that two people could pool their (usually very limited) economic resources, and use these to feed the children which were the inevitable by-product of sex.

They might want to add that the pursuit of romantic love is, for the most part, a hobby for those with time and money to spare, and that there are certain things, like, for example, being "swept off your feet", that can't always be found by looking. That seem, in fact, to suggest an element of surprise.

But they might also note that while heels have got higher, and skirts have got shorter, and necklines have got lower, and while more and more women are wearing "vintage" clothes, and boasting about the scarves they've knitted, and the cupcakes they've baked, something seems to have happened to female desire. That women who said, for a while, that what they wanted was a partnership of equals, even if this was difficult to find, now talk about their power as if it was something they want to give up. Something they want to give up for a man.

It has taken women centuries to get a little bit of power. It seems a shame to want to give it up so soon. It seems a shame, too, to hear one of the few women in our culture who's got an awful lot of it fantasise about having less.

Madonna, by the way, has got a boyfriend. He's a dancer. He's 24. I think we can assume that he isn't her "knight in shining armour". And if he ever dreamt he might be, he sure as hell won't now.

Madonna is, whatever her fantasies, behaving as powerful people have always behaved. She has entered into a transaction where youth is balanced by power. She's behaving, in other words, but it's strangely reassuring, like a man.

It's all about tone, Mr President

On the day Michelle Obama was defending her reputation, her husband sent me a tweet. "It's not every day we get to welcome the First Lady of the United States to Twitter," he said. "Happy to have you, @MichelleObama."

Well, when I say "me", I mean me and his 12 million-odd other "followers", and when I say "he", I think, unless the Obamas always talk to each other like MCs at awards ceremonies, I probably mean someone on his behalf. I think it's probably a good thing if the leader of the Western world doesn't actually spend his days peering at an endless stream of quips and boasts, but it was a reminder, after a post-Christmas Twitter detox that proved blissfully soothing, that so much of modern life is about tone, and so often that tone is just slightly wrong.

Nothing so special about this sister act

There's something a tiny bit depressing about the news that the Daily Mail is offered 400 photos of Pippa Middleton a day. You can see why they'd want pics of her cheerful sister, who has taken on a job description written in the Middle Ages, and seems to be managing it pretty well. But it's quite hard to see why they'd go wild about a pleasant-looking young woman who's most famous for her bottom.

If it was a Hottentot Venus bottom, or even, at a pinch, a Jennifer Lopez, you can see why there might be a bit of a fuss. But Pippa Middleton's seems to be a perfectly normal specimen. Not big, not small, not fat, not thin. And most photos, surely, are taken from the front.

c.patterson@independent.co.uk // Twitter.com/queenchristina_

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a languages...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Year 4 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 4 Primary Teachers needed Randst...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: out of time, polling and immigration and old words

John Rentoul
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past