Madonna accepted her Woman of the Year award at the Billboard Women in Music 2016 event with a brutally honest speech that took a blunt take on sexism, ageism, and misogyny in the music industry.
She told the audience at the award show that she’d endured constant misogyny and abuse for decades and spoke again about being raped on a New York City rooftop at the start of her career. “I stand before you as a doormat,” Madonna said. “Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer. 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.”
Her strong and honest speech went on to address the gendered double standards of beauty and intelligence aging in the entertainment industry and stated “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. And finally, do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticized and vilified and definitely not played on the radio.”