Madonna gives powerful speech on being a woman in the music industry at Billboard awards

Madonna spoke out about the sexism, misogyny and abuse she has struggled over the years

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 12 December 2016 08:55
Madonna redefining stereotypes about older women at Billboard Women in Music 2016

Madonna made a frank and open speech about the struggles she has faced during her career at a Billboard Women in Music event.

Accepting Billboard's Woman of the Year award, Madonna spoke out about the sexism, misogyny and abuse she has struggled over the years.

"I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean as a female entertainer," she said.

"Thank you for acknowledging my ability to continue my career for 34 years in the face of blatant sexism and misogny and constant bullying and relentless abuse."

She noted how, earlier in her career, David Bowie became an idol for her because he refused to conform to the traditional standards of gender - but soon realised that as a woman, she was not able to follow that example and receive the same treatment.

"He embodied male and female spirit and that suited me just fine," she said. "He made me think there were no rules. But I was wrong. There are no rules - if you're a boy. There are rules if you're a girl.

"Prince was running around with fishnets and high heels and lipstick with his butt hanging out... yes he was. But he was a man," she added. "This was the first time I truly understood women do not have the same freedom as men.

"You're allowed to be pretty and cute and sexy. But don't act too smart. Don't have an opinion that's out of line with the status quo, at least. You are allowed to be objectified by men and dress like a slut, but don't own your sluttiness. And do not, I repeat, do not, share your own sexual fantasies with the world.

"Be what men want you to be, but more importantly, be what women feel comfortable with you being around other men. And finally, do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticised and vilified, and you will definitely not be played on the radio."

"People say that I'm so controversial. But I think the most controversial thing I have ever done. is to stick around."

In typical Madonna fashion, she closed her speech with a message to the haters.

"To the doubters and naysayers and everyone who gave me hell and said I could not, that I would not or I must not - your resistance made me stronger, made me push harder, made me the fighter that I am today," she said. "It made me the woman that I am today. So thank you."

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