In addition to handling a new country and set of schools as a single mother (she moved back to New York two years ago), Madonna is in a relationship; she is currently seeing French breakdancer Brahim Zaibat. I speculate, as a single parent myself, about whether the new model her setup represents (a successful single woman who has her work and her kids and who has taken a lover — or lovers — simply because he makes her happy) is threatening to patriarchal boundaries around the idea of family life.
“Well, it can also be more than just sexual, um, appendages,” Madonna answers. “I don’t necessarily like to use the word lover because it sounds like they just come over and have sex with you. I aspire to more than that, and I need more than that.”
Like what, exactly? “Someone to share my inner life with. That’s extremely important. It’s also important that my children admire and respect this partner that I would choose for myself. Especially for my sons, who have their father [ex-husband Guy Ritchie], but they need a male role model as well. So I need to keep this in mind: What is this person modeling to my sons, what kind of man is he, what values does he have, what energy is he giving off? Because they are impressionable. It’s so important.”
What qualities does she most want her sons to see in a partner of hers? She replies, “Respect for women and understanding that everything must be earned. Those are two big ones.” Wallis Simpson, of course, had an intriguing reputation as a sexual sorceress. “I seriously doubt it’s true,” Madonna says. “But she was a powerful woman, so it makes sense that people would make things up about her. When women are perceived as powerful and doing something they aren’t supposed to be doing, they are often portrayed as sexual predators.
“They said that because they couldn’t understand how she won a king,” she explains. “She wasn’t conventionally pretty, she had the body of a teenage boy, she was divorced twice, and by the time she married the king she couldn’t have children. What did she have to offer? She’s not pretty, fertile, or a virgin, so she’s useless. I was actually told once by a Japanese woman that there’s a phrase for women who are past the marrying age: ‘stale cake.'”
Madonna points out that her own age is always a focus. “I find whenever someone writes anything about me, my age is right after my name,” she says. “It’s almost like they’re saying, ‘Here she is, but remember she’s this age, so she’s not that relevant anymore.’ Or ‘Let’s punish her by reminding her and everyone else.’ When you put someone’s age down, you’re limiting them.”
She says, “To have fun, that’s the main issue. To continue to be a provocateur, to do what we perceive as the realm of young people, to provoke, to be rebellious, to start a revolution.”
© Harper’s Bazaar