Madonna Express Yourself Analysis

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Laura Mulvey argues in her essay that women do not see the world as observers and instead, they are only to be seen. Outlets of popular culture, such as magazines, tell women to wear certain clothes, stand with a specific posture, and make a pouty, sexy face to obtain a man. These attributes put together symbolize the straight female. In a heteronormative world, this is what it means to be beautiful and sexually available. Thus, the male gaze is ubiquitous in culture of the past and present. This contributes to narrow and unrealistic cultural beauty standards. However, Madonna, a famous singer, made a career by toying with the male gaze. Although Madonna’s “Express Yourself” video initially presents itself as a dip into feminism, a more analytical …show more content…
Her outfit is almost male drag, and she repeatedly flashes the bra. These actions suggest that men only find a woman in male drag sexy if her breasts are exposed. Her dance at the end of the scene ends with a crotch-grab and finger-gun combination (Madonna). At the time the video was released, these dance moves were shocking and even scandalous because the audience had never seen a woman grab her crotch like that before. This finger-gun and crotch-grab are obvious references to phallic masculinity that Michael Jackson made famous. Although the target audience seems to be men, Madonna’s drag scene gives the idea of a bold, independent woman. However, the camera angles give away the fact that this is not a matter of empowerment. Madonna is filmed from above in various parts of “Express Yourself” to play sexy and vulnerable. The singer exploits the male gaze and her portrayal of sexuality was influenced by established ideas of the ideal “sexy” from a heterosexual male …show more content…
This draws attention to the idea that women can only be in control because of their sexual prowess. In addition, the video taps into light BDSM, possibly to appeal to a wider range of viewers with different sexual preferences. Although the music video seems to mainly target heterosexual men, “Express Yourself” appeals to people of different ethnicities because the main male character is not Caucasian. The scenes in which Madonna performs in her room suggests she is the object of the gaze. Some fetishistic scopophilia occurs in “Express Yourself” because the video is all about looking at Madonna as a fetish object, especially when she is in her room alone (Mulvey 67). The musician presents herself as a powerless woman. However, this validates the power of man in society as depicted when the two characters copulate at the

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