In her acceptance speech of the Billboard’s Woman of the Year awards, which has been billed as, “powerful,” “frank,” “fiery,” “blunt,” “inspirational,” and “teary”, was indeed one of her most candid in recent times.
She spoke about the prevalence of sexism in the music industry, prejudice against women, her early years in New York, being raped at knife-point on a rooftop, and her apartment being broken into so many times that she “just stopped locking the door.”
She spoke about losing her friend over the years to aids, drugs or gunshots. She did give credit to the unfortunate events in her life for making her a “daring woman” but they reminded her of her vulnerability as well.
Speaking on sexism in the music industry she said, “There are no rules if you are a boy. If you are a girl you have to play the game. What is that game? You’re allowed to be pretty and cute and sexy. But don’t act too smart. Don’t have an opinion. Don’t have an opinion that is 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…”
“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 said. “This was the first time I truly understood women do not have the same freedom as men.
Speaking about ageing she said, “Do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticized. You will be vilified.” She spoke about being considered a controversial person by people, but according to her, “I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around,” which was appreciated by the audience with a generous round of applause.
“Michael is gone. Tupac is gone. Prince is gone. Whitney is gone. Amy Windhouse is gone. David Bowie is gone. But I am still standing,” she said to another round of applause. “I am one of the lucky ones,” she added after the applause had died down.
In her emotional address, she spoke about David Bowie becoming an inspiration for her in the early days of her career because of his refusal to let long-established standards come in the way of his gender. However, being a woman she was unable to adhere to his policy and be worthy of the same treatment.
The speech was not short on sarcasm as well, “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 misogyny and constant bullying and relentless abuse.”
“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.”
Way to go Madonna!