Madonna’s Gloves

Back in the early Eighties a young singer burst on to the pop scene and forced my dad to watch the chart show, Top of the Pops, on BBC1, for the first time ever.

Her name was Madonna (“Gosh, isn’t that name blasphemous?” crowed middle England). Dad sat there like a Bond villain, in his black leather slightly gay porn-movie Seventies swivel chair, glaring, “She’ll never last.” Funnily enough, she did. Longer than him in fact.

Guess what else lasted? Her hands.

It seems that Madonna’s new obsession – for Madonna, according to the media is always “obsessed” with things (horse-riding, London, Kabbalah, macro-biotic soup, Latin dancers etc) – is gloves.

If you recall back in her Desperately Seeking Susan days, she sported cut-off lacy gloves, which immediately became a big hit with John Hughes-esque love-lorn teen girls, along with the cheap black rubber bands (cribbed from manual typewriters) that ran all the way up her arm.

These days she wears her gloves to make another statement. Yes, it’s one of rebellion but it’s also one of age – because now at 53, and although still in quite incredible physical shape, she has hands that will not, shall not, cannot stay young.

Her gloves are doing more fighting that anything Ali wore in the ring.

But fighting who? And what?

Well herself for one. She’s also a famous “control freak” (or so we’re told), so her pesky skin must be more irritating than her audience who throw gifts onto her stage. (I attended one of her True Blue concerts, at Wembley Stadium, where that happened; a cuddly toy went whizzing past her head mid La Isla Bonita, and she growled, “I’m leaving if you throw any more fucking shit on this stage”, which was quite funny, and also, let’s face it, a little bit rude).

But really what these gloves are fighting – apart from the media and their catty comments – is all of us. They might look harmless enough but they have the power of a UN Ambassador.

They say: Women cannot get older.

They say: I do not want to get older.

They say: I do not like myself.

But they also say:

“Fuck you world” – she loves a curse word, does Madge – “I’m Madonna, and I’m going out the way I came in, on my own terms in any way I see fit. So fuck you again, in case you didn’t get it the first time around. I’m still here, I’m still re-inventing myself and having a fantastic time doing it, and I’m still better than most of you.” (Look, I’ve never said that she wasn’t sometimes annoying).

I hope that as she slips on her “new obsession” (copyright, world’s media) she doesn’t sigh heavily at her advancing years, but celebrates all that those gloves represent.

She is the Steve Jobs of pop culture. She reinvented, redesigned and rebooted women’s sexuality and independence.

It’s no surprise that she’s ended up a single woman leaving a heap of exhausted boy-toys in her wake – she’s a Super Spinny at heart. She is a woman who walks to the beat of her own (synthesized) drum. But she does that for a post-Steinem generation who gave two fingers to not just men but other women too. She was strong. She had an identity and she made it possible for an army of girls who only had Margaret Thatcher as a role model, to believe in ourselves. Whether you like her or not is irrelevant, for she is the benchmark of who we are. She is the post-40 poster woman, and her advancing years are our cross to bear too.


Those gloves are you and me.

And because of that, those gloves are, quite literally, fucking amazing.

Spinny out.


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