Madonna accepted a prestigious music industry award last night (December 9) with a frank and hard-hitting speech in which she recalled the struggles she has overcome in her career.
Two days after she opened up to James Corden about her relationship with Michael Jackson, she spoke just as candidly as she collected her Billboard Women of the Year award.
“I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer,” Madonna told the audience at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Billboard reports. “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.”
Madonna went on to hail David Bowie as an influence, before discussing the double standards she has faced as a female musician. “I was of course inspired by Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde and Aretha Franklin, but my real muse was David Bowie,” she said. “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.”
Outlining those rules, Madonna continued: “If you’re a girl, you have to play the game. 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,” she added. “And finally, do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticised and vilified and definitely not played on the radio.”
Madonna told the audience later in her speech: “I’m not here so much because I care about awards. I’m here because I want to say thank you. To all the doubters and naysayers and everyone who gave me hell and said I could not or would not or must not, your resistance made me stronger, made me push harder, made me the fighter that I am. It made me the woman that I am today. So thank you.”
She also urged women to work together more closely in the future, saying: “As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth and each other’s worth. Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to collaborate with, to be inspired by, to support, and be enlightened by.”
Earlier this week, Madonna also said that she feels “betrayed” by other women over the US election result.