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“Like a Virgin” by Madonna Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 31st, 2020

Image Sound Text
Night vision of a city and the sea with some boats, Madonna is on one of the boats and she lands to a marina. Then Madonna is walking among columns and along streets, and a lion is also seen.
The composition begins with the noise of the night city and the sea and then ringing bells are heard. Then bass line and synthesizer arrangement start. Madonna’s vocal starts. The song is performed in the key of F major. “I made it through the wilderness
Somehow I made it through…” (“Madonna” 2013)
Madonna is on a boat moving along a canal and Madonna is dancing.
The song grows into a dance-groove tempo with the same bass line, synthesizer arrangement but drums become more explicit. “I was beat incomplete
I’d been had, I was sad and blue” (“Madonna” 2013)
Madonna in a white wedding dress with bridal veil is walking in a house and removing covering cloth from furniture. A man in a mask is briefly shown. The scenes are intermingled with the scenes of Madonna dancing on the boat.
The music does not change the key or tempo. Drums, bass line and synthesizer arrangements are the same. Madonna is singing in high register. “Like a virgin
Touched for the very first time …” (“Madonna” 2013)
The man in the mask and black wedding suit holds Madonna in his arms and the scene is intermingled with the scenes of Madonna dancing and lion walking. The video end in the man and Madonna boarding a boat to leave the city and everything plunges into darkness.
Chorus is repeated several times and music as well as Madonna’s vocal dies out. “You’re so fine and you’re mine
I’ll be yours till the end of time” (“Madonna” 2013)


Madonna has built her popularity and her image on such issues as sexuality and gender. She has always provoked people and tried to questions conventions of western society. Her song “Like a Virgin”, which is one of her most famous compositions, can be regarded as a certain refined image of Madonna. Render (2006, 130) stresses that Madonna has chosen “to embrace a sexualized self-presentation that is pleasing to the dominant masculine heterosexual paradigm… to commodify her sexual attractiveness”.

This is apparent in the video for the song (as well as in the lyrics) “Like a Virgin”. Thus, Madonna appears as a single and empowered woman who is moving through the city and “through the wilderness” (“Madonna” 2013). The lion appearing in the video represents danger. This danger comes from the city and the man as well as from the relationship between the man and the woman.

Madonna is depicted as a woman who is first afraid but soon becomes bold as she understands she has found her man. She is not afraid of the lion and she is waiting for this dangerous man to help her become more complete. She is happy only when he holds her in his arms.

It is also important to note that Madonna is dancing in the video. She is dancing and her choreography is built on the principle of covert desire and sexuality. She is ready to reveal her sexuality and she is not afraid of any conventions. There is also evidence of her readiness to be engaged in the relationship in the lyrics as she sings she is “sad and blue” (“Madonna” 2013). Thus, Madonna admits that she is “incomplete” without a man who can make her “strong” and “bold” (“Madonna” 2013).

Admittedly, the image of a submissive and sex-appeal female was praised in the 1980s and it is still common for the contemporary western society. Even though females have started playing a significant role in the social life of countries and communities, the image of a beautiful and dependent woman (dependent on men) is valued among men as well as women. Notably, lots of women have wanted to copy Madonna’s ways (Whiteley 2013). Hence, females try to seem independent and emancipated free from conventions.

Madonna has shown that she is free as she can reveal her sexuality. Whiteley (2013, 270) also notes that Madonna depicts (at least, partially) “what constitutes femininity”. Remarkably, the song can also be regarded as a reflection of major trends which existed in the 1980s. Madonna became a symbol of sexual liberty in the 1980s. Women wanted freedom and one of the ways to achieve their goal was to declare their sexual liberation.

They were not afraid of revealing their sexuality and that was a way to make them feel free. The idea of love and sexual revolution which flourished in the 1970s was over. A new revolution involved the image of empowered women who were not afraid of emphasizing their sexuality and this image was promoted by the media. It is important to mention another idea conveyed in the video. Another facet of femininity is purity and Madonna exploits this image in her video.

First, she appears as a modern city girl revealing and emphasizing her sexuality. She is ready to challenge the ‘wilderness’ represented by the city and the dangers of relationships represented by the lion. After that, she is a bride in her white wedding dress, a symbol of purity. Madonna sings that she is pure “like a virgin” (“Madonna” 2013).

Admittedly, the idea of purity is also very important for men as well as women. It has been believed that a woman should be pure when she is getting married. Clearly, the reality is far from this convention, but people still stick to it. Therefore, Madonna is persuading her man that she is pure (at least, in her soul) as she wants to be a true woman for him.

It is noteworthy that the song is not only a depiction of the trends existing in society. It also provokes a lasting debate. Lots of feminists state that the song and entire image of Madonna is an insult to females as the singer promotes an image of a sex toy aimed to satisfy men’s desires (Whiteley 2013). At the same time, the majority of people admire the emancipated and sexual singer who is questioning some conventions.

Of course, both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, but it is clear that Madonna has become famous due to her image of a sexually free woman. It is also possible to state that Madonna has facilitated the discussion of issues associated with gender and sexuality. The present song is one of those provoking compositions which still make people consider these issues and find new approaches.


“Madonna – Like a Virgin”. 2013. Web.

Render, Meredith. 2009. “Misogyny, Androgyny, and Sexual Harassment: Sex Discrimination in a Gender-Deconstructed World.” Harvard Journal of Law & Gender 29: 99–150.

Whiteley, Sheila. 2013. Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender. New York, NY: Routledge.

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