Madonna hits back at her critics in powerful speech about sexism, ageism and misogyny

Madonna has come in for a lot of flack of late. Her tribute to Prince earlier this year was panned by the Twitterati, last year’s Coachella kiss with a 28-year-old Drake drew out the keyboard warriors and her widely publicised custody battle for son Rocco has also seen the singer thrown to the viral lions. The most recent criticism of the pop queen came after Piers Morgan (who else?) slammed her recent performance on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke.

ICYMI he accused her of being too old to be twerking. “I loved Madonna when she acted her age,” he said on Good Morning Britain. “You can’t be 58 and just prancing about. I want her to just put it away.”

The attack could well have been a sexist, ageist and misogynist move too far for the pop superstar and she decided to use her Billboard acceptance speech to speak out about the issue and offer an insight into her experiences as a woman in the music industry.

Madonna used her acceptance speech to deliver some powerful words about sexism, ageism and misogyny [Photo: Getty]
Madonna used her acceptance speech to deliver some powerful words about sexism, ageism and misogyny [Photo: Getty]

“I stand before you as a doormat… oh, I mean, as a female entertainer,” she said as she took to the podium to accept her Woman of the Year Award.

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

“I was, of course, inspired by Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde and Aretha Franklin, but my real muse was David Bowie,” she continued.

“He embodied male and female spirit and that suited me just fine. 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.”

The singer was referring to the double standards that she’d experienced as a woman in the music industry, but also in society in general.

“If you’re a girl, you have to play the game,” the Material Girl continued. “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. 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.”

The Vogue hitmaker went on to discuss how she was treated after the release of her album “Erotica” and her book Sex, recalling that she’d been called “a whore and a witch”, and even being compared to Satan.

During one moment, the emotional speech almost reduced the singer to tears.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute, isn’t Prince running around with fishnets and high heels and lipstick with his butt hanging out?’ Yes, he was. But he was a man,” she said. “This was the first time I truly understood women do not have the same freedom as men.”

Turning her back on the haters [Photo: Getty]
Turning her back on the haters [Photo: Getty]

In her own typically feisty style, Madonna finished her speech by offering some advice to women who find themselves on the receiving end of similar treatment and crediting her haters for making her the person she is today.

“We have to start appreciating our own worth and each other’s worth,” she said.

“Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to collaborate with, to be inspired by, to support, and enlightened by.”

“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.”

Girl Power Madge, Girl Power!

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