In what could be interpreted as either as a mishandled activist freeing-the-nipple (well, someone else’s nipple) statement, an inexplicable adrenaline-charged performative impulse, or simply a standard Madonna move, the pop star pulled down one side of a fan’s strapless blouse at a concert for her Rebel Heart tour in Brisbane, Australia, exposing her breast to thousands at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, and thereafter to the multitudes who’d watch video clips of it online.
“She’s the kind of girl you just want to slap on the ass… and pull,” said Madonna as she stood onstage with a 17-year-old fan named Josephine Georgiou and proceeded to do the aforementioned deed, saying, “I’m sorry, sexual harassment. You can do the same to me.”
It’d have been understandable for the fan to be upset. While the nipple should be free (and in some parts of Australia, it legally is), it should of course be one’s own choice whether or not they want to free said nipple. Since consent seemed questionable here, The Guardian notes that Australian lawyers had mentioned there was a possibility that, if charges were pressed, this could be considered sexual assault. But Georgiou of course also had the right not to be upset, and such was her response in Brisbane’s Courier Mail. She defended Madonna and said of the implications that she should be offended/press charges:
Seriously, why would I sue Madonna for the best moment of my life? 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?… It’s hilarious to me how much of a big deal it is to everyone. People just need to understand I was on stage in front of Madonna, I was looking her in the eyes and most people would just melt into a pool on stage, so it was only because I was standing in front of her that I looked so surprised.
Madonna had, the night prior, arrived two hours late to her first Brisbane show, and only a week prior to that had come onstage for a concert in Melbourne four hours after the set time — at 1 a.m. She’d appeared riding a bicycle and dressed as a clown; the concert itself was called “Tears of a Clown.” The show had allegedly taken a turn from clown-y to openly sad, when the singer dedicated a song to her 15 year old son, over whom she’s been in a custody battle with Guy Ritchie.
Madonna hadn’t toured in Australia in 23 years, and it seems that on her return, she’s decided to make up for lost time with a heavy dose of discomfort, sometimes sincere, sometimes weird, and sometimes inappropriate.