My mom never appreciated Madonna, and I'm sure everyone can imagine why she wasn't keen to see her child singing "like a virgin, touched for the very first time" into a hairbrush in front of the mirror at the tender age of 7. By the time I was blasting "Human Nature" after our senior year fights, there was no doubt that the rift between my mother and Madonna was pretty permanent. On the other hand, for all my mother's anti-Madonna-ness (and dislike of the word "feminist"), she would never, ever think to go on about Madonna's looks the way Germane Greer or Camille Paglia have this year or rip her the way Miranda Devine does in The Sydney Morning Herald for daring to exercise a lot and trying to be unwrinkled. Do not come between me and my childhood icons.For one, Devine spends her entire column comparing the 50-year-old Madonna to other icons in the early- and mid-sixties, and finds that Madonna is trying to hard not to look like people 10 or more years her senior.

But the fact is, Madonna does look like a granny on stage, albeit a 21st century, super-fit, androgynous, very driven kind of granny - and what's wrong with that? Mick Jagger, 65, embraces his inner old codger; why shouldn't Madge?

Mind you, Madonna has 3 kids, none of whom are old enough to give her grandchildren, and Mick Jagger far from "embraces his inner codger," if his too-tight pants are anything to go by. Devine also slams Madonna's workout routine — which, put frankly, is sort of part and parcel of her career — and her refusal to have dairy products or refined sugar in the house are some of the other things that poor, poor Guy Ritchie apparently had to "suffer" when married to Madonna. Lactose intolerance, anyone? In addition, Devine calls Madonna's apparent knee injury her "gammy knee" and knocks it as "perils of excessive gym work" despite the evidence that women in America (and, one assumes, Australia) should be encouraged to exercise more and not less. Oh, and then there's this:

So do the ghastly close-ups of her overly muscled arms that periodically appear in the gossip magazines - showing a chiselled anatomical structure that is best kept under wraps on a woman's body. Still, she is living proof that even the plainest girls can wind up looking "hot", with effort.

Yes, muscles are, like, sooooo ugly on women, who should be careful not to look anything less than weak and soft, lest they drive away their husbands. And plain? Plain? Madonna is not "plain," she is the opposite of plain. Finally, we get around to the crux of the problem for Devine:

And if 50-year-old women are occupying the space of 30-year-old women, not to mention monopolising 30-year-old men, where does that leave the real 30-year-old women? It's hardly fair.

Where does that leave 30-year-old women? Well, some of us date older men, some of us date younger men and some of us date men our age. You know, it's not actually a competition to get a man. And some of us don't feel threatened by an older woman looking attractive, or working out, as Devine implies Madonna did. I couldn't compete with Madonna when I was 17 (although I was willing to put on a PVC bodysuit, dye my hair black and put it into cornrows if someone else had had the money for me to try), I didn't expect to compete with her at 30. Besides, if my age, or lack thereof, or my looks, or lack thereof, are the only things about me that will make me attractive to a dude, I'm not really thinking that such a dude is looking for a serious relationship. Undoubtedly, Madonna's 8 year marriage and its end came down to more than her exercise routine, her potential Botox or her age — and if it didn't, well, then good riddance to Guy Ritchie, because she can totally do better. She's Madonna. Material Girl With A Gammy Knee [Sydney Morning Herald] Earlier: Madonna Is A Feminist Target