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Madonna or the Whore? I’d rather be a Tart with a Heart.

So I wrote a rather risque blog at the weekend. Under the influence of wine and with the encouragement of an old friend. It was a lot of fun to write and it is very funny, even if I do say so myself. Afterwards though, there was the niggling sense of regret. The awkward creeping fear that people might look at me differently now. Could they have less respect for me because I crossed a line. The line that says that good women and good girls don’t talk about these things.

The line drawn in the sand comes from the Madonna and Whore complex. If you’ve not heard of it, that’s unfortunate because it feeds into women’s lives on a daily basis, so pervasively that much of the time, we don’t even know that we are respecting it. If you want to see it illustrated, go watch The Physician, it’s an enjoyable film, featuring an adorably youthful Tom Payne, but there is a dearth of female speaking parts. Basically there is Rebecca, the love interest, and a bunch of bare breasted whores. That’s it. Rebecca and the whores. Actually, that’s a really good name for a band, someone should use that.

The Madonna and the whore complex divides women into two groups, the ones worthy of love and respect and the ones who are just worthy of desire. There is no obvious way to tell who will fall into which category, one man’s goddess is another man’s whore and vice versa. Statistically large breasted women are more likely to fall into the whore category because a very large portion of the population think they get that way through pumping, possibly everyone apart from the large breasted women themselves. But large breasted women are also more likely to be thought of as good wife and mother material, which is most definitely a Madonna thing, so it really is all in the air and it can change with the turn of a word.

The Madonna and Whore effects how women dress, speak and behave. It influences their behaviour, even in the most intimate of relationships. Why do women not approach men in bars? The virgin and the whore. Why do women struggle to initiate sex in a relationship? The virgin and the whore. Why are there long discussions about when to have sex in a new relationship? The virgin and the whore. The obvious answer of, when you want to, gets lost in the fear that she may lose the respect of a man that she wants to get close to if she gets too close too quickly.

The virgin and the whore is why women’s clothing, drinking habits and sexual history can all be up for analysis in a rape trial. She falls into the whore category your honour, she was clearly asking for it.

It strikes me as well, that while it’s clearly catastrophically bad for women, it’s horrendous for men too. It’s bad for relationships, it’s bad for intimacy, it’s bad for happiness. Picture this…Man falls madly in love with his Madonna. He puts her on a pedestal, she is his goddess. He works hard to give her everything she needs, he’s respectful, he’s attentive, he’s considerate. But he’s never quite himself. He can never fully relax. Maybe he bottles his feelings because he doesn’t want to appear weak. It all sounds rather exhausting to me. Maybe, also, he can’t ask for everything he wants in the bedroom because he’s worried it’ll appear disrespectful. She certainly won’t ask. So that gets boring too. He still loves her but he’s miserable and moody and she can’t work out why and they split up. Or maybe he cheats with a comfortable whore and breaks everyone’s heart. What a sorry state of affairs.

Now consider the alternative. There is no Madonna, there is no Whore. There’s just a man and a woman, enjoying each other and supporting each other. The End. Well, not quite the end. Monogamy is tough, but you get my meaning.

You see, feminism isn’t just about girls wanting better stuff for girls. It’s about girls wanting better stuff for everyone. Or at least it should be. So that’s why I won’t take down that blog, and I won’t apologise and I will risk being labelled a whore. Because I don’t want to be a Madonna. I want to be a woman. This woman. The lovable tart with a heart that I really am.

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