Role model musical chairs


While most feminist writers these days are busily taking sides re: Sheryl Sandberg v. Maureen Dowd, I’ve been mulling a completely different front in the ongoing debate over “Who’s More Empowering Than Whom.”*

My Women’s Press editors are putting out an issue in April dedicated to music, and I get to weigh in.  I love pop culture, and I love pop music.  I also love feminism, and most of all I love my daughter, and these latter loves rarely peacefully coexist with the former.

I could have written a PhD thesis on single-monikered popstresses , but my column is too short to take on more than two.

In this corner, Her Royal Madgesty, the Queen of Pop: MADONNA!



In this corner, the tough young upstart, the Barbadian Babe, and the star whom my children vastly prefer: RIHANNA!



Who’s More Empowering Than Whom, faithful feminist fans?

I grew up with Madonna, so to me this isn’t a fair fight.  I also stacked the deck for the Queen with a song that’s among the top girl power anthems of all time.  And though I try not to pass judgment on women who remain with their abusers, for myriad reasons, still….eeeruygh.

This is not to say that a Madonna obsession is not problematic.  Would it be nicer if she weren’t prone to ridiculous publicity stunts, many of which involve her crotch & boobs?  Could she have a lighter hand with the plastic surgery and/or upper body weights?  The Malawi “orphans” with living parents?

This would be easier if I liked Ani DiFranco.



And I’ve tried.  Really tried.  I went to a hippy-dippy liberal arts college that brought her to campus as part of Take Back the Night festivities, but I lasted only a song or two before heading home to play THIS:



My kids’ reaction to anything remotely Riot Grrrrlish?  “THIS HURTS MY EARS, MOM! TURN IT OFF!”

Your picks are welcome in the comments.

Have Madonna, RiRi, Ani and/or Kathleen gone on the record about “Lean In”?  Since Madonna and Ani are mothers as well as artists and business owners, it’s probably only a matter of time.




*This is what we do instead of March Madness.  Pass the popcorn & wine!


3 thoughts on “Role model musical chairs

  1. Pingback: Lean In, Chin Up and Tune Out - SoCal Mom by Donna Schwartz Mills | SoCal Mom by Donna Schwartz Mills

  2. julie

    I grew up listening to Joplin and Baez. Of current singers, I’d pick Pink as the best role model- strong woman, great singer and appears not to take crap from anyone.

  3. Shannon Post author

    Yes! My kids do like Pink–but I suspect they like her LESS because I approve. I’ll have to remind myself to announce how much I despise her in their presence…


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