Thursday, November 14, 2002

The making of a female mullah The Spectator, Mary Kenny, 14/11/2002 " I was glad to read that Madonna, the singer, had delivered herself of a lecture on "media morality" last week, and condemned the sleaze and lack of sexual morals that now characterise American television. The object of her particular critique was a tape of an American mother who persists in breast-feeding her son at the age of eight. Should an American state order a mother to stop breast-feeding her child when he turns eight? The State of Illinois did so order, and Madonna not only strongly supported the state in this measure; she also condemned the woman, and the television companies for screening the breast-feeding event. Madonna has discovered that not every personal "choice" is acceptable. I have been watching Madonna for a while, ever since she moved into her forties, and especially since she gave birth to a son. Madonna is, I think, 'on the turn'. That is, she is in the process of evolving from girl rebel to mother of morality; from outrageous enfant terrible in full-throttle rebellion against her parents.... Presently she will be deploring the common use of coarse language and over-explicit imagery. In any given culture there are a number of women in the public realm who arbitrate on manners and morals. Usually, these are middle-aged women who become the guardians of marriage, family life and general decorum. Historically, some of these Mullahs of Morality have been agony aunts - in the 1950s characters such as Mary Grant and Evelyn Holmes were ferociously bossy upholders of conventional morality - but after Marje Proops, Anna Raeburn and Claire Rayner the agony-aunt role shifted from guardian of morality to sex therapist, thus leaving a vacancy for the Morality Mullah. For a while, Mary Whitehouse and Victoria Gillick filled the role, but in the last decade or so it has tended to be female newspaper columnists who arbitrate on Morals and Manners."
[A reasonably thoughtful essay about what happens when "feminists" bear sons. But Kenny argues we need more, not fewer "moral mullahs" who will "lay down the law" in the face of an "uncouth strain of people who have no idea how to behave", produced by capitalism. Goodness, the act of breastfeeding an older child is a product of capitalism? Amazing twist in logic. - jc]

No comments: