Diana West

In these times of heightened discord and possible tectonic upheaval, there's little reason to linger on a culture-blip like the publishing launch of a series of kiddie books by Madonna. No doubt there are contrasts to be drawn between the semi-retired pop queen's latest and most dubious incarnation as a tea-sipping sort of Mrs. Miniver who writes children's books, and her extremely sordid, extremely lucrative career as a pop-exhibitionist. (Said career in pop-exhibitionism includes one prior publishing lark as a porno-spread subject and author of a book called "Sex.") Still, anyone who has successfully parried the thrust of all the recent media hoopla -- equal parts pretentious and nauseating -- over Madonna and the kissing pop-tarts on MTV will understand the reflexive instinct to shield the eyes from all Madonna news.

But the pop-ostrich in me just couldn't resist something Madonna said -- a real mouthful -- to the Times of London Sunday magazine. It was about her seven-year-old daughter, Lourdes, and Madonna's long career of mass-marketing her own vulgar sexuality. Quoth Madonna (given her current and slavish pursuit of English foppishness, she's bound to do a lot of quothing): "I protect her from sex full stop. She's not aware of sex, nor should she be. You know, we've had little conversations about where babies come from, but sex is not, and should not be, part of her repertoire right now."

Full stop? Given that Madonna is one of the preeminent despoilers of youthful innocence, this, as her new compatriots might say, is a bit cheeky. It's Madonna who first shredded virginity and wedding dresses into pop mega-hits, displaying a leave-us-alone exhibitionism that wreaked havoc on girlhood. Well and good that Madonna has had "little conversations" with her daughter about where babies come from; but what about the conversations about where Mommy's riches come from? Later, Madonna says. She says she someday plans to tell Lourdes her career as a sexual provocateur was all an act, which may or may not be comforting. "I'd explain that's me putting on a show. I'm playing a character, it's not really me. I'm being an actress."

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).