Madonna turned 56 last month and, lo and behold, people got snarky. As you may be able to guess, “She’s old!” was the major take-away. While the fact that Madonna has aged another year may be a surprise to anybody who has never celebrated a birthday before (also to those who never say “boo” about the likes of Mick Jagger, now in his 70s, parading himself around like a peacock in heels), this fact of life isn’t particularly revelatory. Naturally, however, it seems every time this acclaimed “Queen of Pop” steps foot outside of her house she is criticized for deigning to still be alive and not having resigned herself to a life of knitting scarves in an old folk’s home. If she doesn’t drop everything to wear rags and distribute rice in Calcutta by her next birthday then she’ll be shipped off somewhere.

Still, while Madonna may only seem like the terrain of gay men and bachelorette parties for women in their 30s and 40s, there are many reasons for straight men to appreciate her. I know, I know, but you’re a masculine dude! There’s ultimately nothing more attractive than being comfortable with your sexuality and admitting the damn obvious: Madonna is awesome. And here’s why.

She Wants You to Have Better Sex

This has always been true, and it continues unabated. Whether she’s extolling the virtues of a good lover in “Like a Virgin” from 1984, telling women to be open about their sexual desires in 1989’s “Express Yourself,” blatantly bathing in eroticism from her much ballyhooed Sex period and the orgasmic “Justify My Love of 1990, right up to more recent tracks like “Get Together” in 2006 and “I’m Addicted” in 2012. She just wants you to have a good time in the sheets and has spent literally decades trying to goad stick-in-the-mud puritans while simultaneously inspiring a generation of feel good time lovers to embrace the steamy and the fun that sex can allow.

She’s Worked with David Fincher

If you’re a guy then there’s a very high probability that you worship at the altar of David Fincher whose films like Se7en (1995), Fight Club (1999) and The Social Network (2010) have all been justifiably lauded and adopted as the epitome of cinematic cool. Well before he was making movies Fincher was doing music videos and can lay claim to several of the best of all time. His four collaborations with Madonna are inarguably amongst the best things either have ever done: “Oh Father” and “Express Yourself” in 1989, “Vogue” in 1990 and “Bad Girl” in 1993, a year after his debut film Alien 3 (1992). “Express Yourself” with its Metropolis (1927) inspired noir-gothic design and “Bad Girl” featuring Christopher Walken especially so. Fincher is even reported to have directed segments of the brilliant meta-documentary Madonna: Truth of Dare (1991). Together these two were immortal.

She Is a Role Model for Those Who Just Don’t Care

Madonna lives life to the fullest, an admirable role model for anybody who doesn’t give a f*** about what anybody says and just charges head on into battle. When they said her career was over after the controversial American Life of 2003 she revamped herself once more and returned with her most successful single of all time (“Hung Up”) and one of her most successful albums to date both critically and commercially in the form of Confessions on a Dance Floor. She even won another Grammy to boot. When she flubbed a move at the Super Bowl in 2012 she just kept going. When naked photos of her were sold to the press and people said she was too hedonistic, she released a book full of naked photography and remained unapologetic. Ten years later she was macking on Britney and Christina on national TV. She just doesn’t care what anybody thinks.

She Lived the Dream

In 1977, at age 19, Madonna Louise Ciccone moved to New York City with $35 in her pocket. She had grown up unfulfilled, her mother having died when she was only five, and eventually found work as a back-up dancer when she wasn’t serving at Dunkin’ Donuts. It wasn’t until five years later that she had a deal, recording “Everybody” in 1982 and eventually releasing an acclaimed self-titled album one year later. The rest is history.

She is an Icon

For all the reasons stated above and more, she has changed the landscape of music and popular culture and it is okay to admit you admire somebody for all the work they’ve done. Madonna should be no different. Strangely, we appear to live in a world where anti-heroes of film and television seem to get more respect than people who have legitimately changed the world for the better. Next time you’re with a woman who has even the slightest of sexual confidence (not to mention the ability to just have a good time on the dance floor) then you should probably be thanking Madonna.

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