Madonna has long been a icon of sexual aggressiveness, but the Material Matriarch tells Harper’s Bazaar that she was violently raped when she first came to New York City.
In a personal essay in Harper’s November issue, Madonna discusses the assault, which took place at knifepoint on the roof of a New York building in the late 1970s. “[The city] did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back.”
The rape, which was also referenced in a 2007 biography, Madonna: Like an Icon, left the music star “crying and shaking” but became a catalyst for artistic development and Madonna’s passion for female empowerment.
“She encountered her own worst possible scenario, becoming a victim of male violence, and thereafter turned that full-tilt into her work, reversing the equation at every opportunity,” wrote biographer Lucy O’Brien.
In the Harper’s piece Madonna also writes of being a rebel back in Bay City, Michigan—trying to play down her sexiness by not shaving or wearing makeup, and wearing scarves on her head “like a Russian peasant.”
Let’s hope she doesn’t adopt that look again for her next re-invention.