Here’s an Ethics Alarms post about a story from 2016 that takes on some new elements when considered in light of #MeToo and the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck. I’m wondering if Madonna would do this today.
Let’s review the players, shall we?
This is Josephine Georgiou, Isn’t she pretty? She was 17 in 2016.
This is Madonna, performing on stage in Australia. during her2016 concert tour.
She was and is over-the -hill and has to be progressively more outrageous to try to justify her concert ticket prices. During the 2016 tour, she was repeatedly late, suspected of being drunk on stage, and generally erratic. Her enabling supporters attributed this to a messy divorce. Of course, for a professional, that is no excuse: if you can’t do the job, then don’t charge people for you to do it.
Here is Josephine with a friend before they attended Madonna’s concert in Brisbane. Note Josephine’s outfit.
Note the nipple rings.
Forget the friend, and no, I have no clue as to what Josephine was holding. Maybe they have very small flies in Australia….
Now here is Josephine with her Mom, Toni, who also was at the concert.
More about her later. OK, I think we’re ready now. Fasten your seat belts, it going to be a bumpy trip down memory lane. Here’s “Yes, Ethics Dunce Madonna Indeed Engaged in Sexual Assault On Stage In Australia” from March 19, 2016…
It began when 17-year-old Josephine Georgiou joined the singer [above] on stage during her second evening at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
And yes, the victim should press charges and have the singer arrested. Not to do so is a First Degree use of The King’s Pass: Madonna gets to behave illegally because she’s a (fading) pop superstar. No, a society can’t allow that. In this episode, she’s not a star, she’s an entitled, bullying asshole.
Fortunately for her attacker, Josephine is an idiot. “Seriously, why would I sue Madonna for the best moment of my life?” the teenager told Brisbane’s Courier Mail newspaper. “It was the best night… She was calling me a Victoria’s Secret model the whole time I was on stage, which is so flattering…Only I get to decide if I’m humiliated or not. Why would people assume I am humiliated by my own breast, nipple or body?”
You’re humiliating yourself, now Josephine. Be quiet now. Society can’t allow pop stars to sexually assault women for entertainment value just because some of them like it. There are those who won’t like it—you know, normal people. Laws exist to protect them. What Madonna did would be a flat-out crime in the U.S., and I presume is in Australia too. Madonna should be arrested and prosecuted, even if her victim is a dim-wit. The singer apparently thinks she can openly flaunt basic rules or respect, decency, autonomy, privacy and the laws of the land, because she’s a pop icon, and Down-Under, I guess she is correct. She also sees nothing wrong with sending the broader culture a message that its OK to pull down a young woman’s top without her consent. Australia’s law enforcement system should forcefully show her that it represents a nation of laws, which means even rotting former sex-symbols have to obey them….
Madonna knows what she did was illegal: look at what she said. “You can do the same to me.” Madonna know that she had to consent first, or it would be a crime, even if Josephine pulled down her top as retaliation for her own sexual abuse.
I have some additional thoughts on this story upon reflection…
- What Madonna did is a crime called “indecent assault” down under, but police said they wouldent take any action with out a complaint from the victim. The victim said she was thrilled. “There was no bad intentions, it was just love and fun up there,” she told the tabloids. “It was just Madonna” and “a totally comfortable situation,” she explained. “Seriously, why would I sue Madonna for the best moment of life? She was calling me a Victoria’s Secret model the whole time I was on stage, which is so flattering!”
Madonna essentially groomed the perfect victim.
- Josephine’s mother is another matter. She said she was similarly thrilled to have her daughter stripped on stage by a super-star, and tweeted in part,
“So proud…Just so everyone knows, Josephine wasn’t ‘humiliated’ like the media are reporting. She was thrilled to bits and had the time of her life #rebelheart #bitchimmadonna'”
- Later, Mrs Georgiou told the Daily Mail Australia that she was offended people had turned the incident into something ugly. “I don’t condone that sort of thing but I’m saying that it was a unique situation…It is quite serious that she’s a minor – people are saying what if this was a male performer, what if it was some else’s daughter – well it wasn’t another man and it wasn’t another girl it was Madonna and my daughter. …It’s Josie’s business, her unique experience and she wasn’t upset about it. My daughter is a fierce feminist in the way I raised her. It’s something that she’ll probably cherish for the rest of her life.”
Mom wasn’t an ethics rocket scientist, was she? She didn’t condone “this sort of thing” but did because this is unique. It was “serious” that Madonna exposed a minor’s breast in public (but Mom added elsewhere that the singer probably didn’t know Josephine was a minor, so there’s that), but Mom obviously didn’t t take it seriously. She refused to even consider the implications of the ethical standard being proposed here,
Her reaction was pretty much what I’d expect from Dina Lohan, Lindsey’s mother.
- I think this may be the King’s Pass of all King’s Passes. The conduct is per se criminal as well as tortious. Madonna assumed consent because she is a star: this is exactly like a male power figure assuming that a woman in the workplace is delighted to have him touch her, a la Joe Biden.
Oh, how I wish this had happened last week!
- I explained to an association board last week about “third party sexual harassment,” in which the workplace victim of harassing behavior welcomes the conduct, but it sends the message to others who witness the conduct that it is acceptable for the aggressor to behave in such a fashion toward others and toward them. This creates a hostile environment.
What Madonna did was in the workplace (for her), and her victim was a workplace volunteer. Just because Josephine liked having her boob exposed to thousands of Australians, at least as long as Madonna was responsible for it, the act isn’t rendered ethical or acceptable. The incident undermining both the law and society’s behavioral standards.
- These were three fake feminists with the ethical IQ of a walnut.
If Josephine were a real feminist, she would have said, “I love Madonna, but nobody, male of female, has a right to sexually assault a woman or touch her in such an intimate way without express consent, either in private or in public. Because she is a celebrity, Madonna assumes that she can get away with inappropriate conduct. The fact that I was not embarrassed doesn’t mean that her conduct didn’t demean me as an individual and show disrespect for my autonomy. What she did was wrong.”
Mom, if she were really a “fierce feminist,’ and not a drooling celebrity-worshiping dolt suffering from arrested development, would have said the same. And Madonna, facing prosecution as she ought to have been, should have said,
“I deeply regret what I did to Josephine on stage. It was impulsive, and it was wrong. I took advantage of my superior power, and what I did and the way I rationalized it was essentially the same mindset as that of male sexual predators like Bill Clinton and others who feminists have been condemning loudly and relentlessly. Josephine was a good sport, but she shouldn’t have been put in that situation. I am ashamed, and I apologize to her, my fans, the Australian public, and everyone who has regarded me as a role model and leader. I failed you all.”