I’m Madonna. And This Is the Blatant Sexism, Misogyny, and Constant Bullying That I’ve Faced…

madonnaacceptsaward

Madonna, an ardent Hillary Clinton backer, has been increasingly vocal on women’s issues since the election.  While accepting Billboard’s Woman of the Year award this weekend, she offered her sharpest criticisms yet against sexism and female self-hatred.  This is her acceptance speech.

[Crowd applause after introduction by Anderson Cooper, who thanked Madonna for giving him faith during his years as a gay teenager.  Madonna accepts, adjusting microphone stand between her legs.]

“I always feel better with something hard between my legs.”

[Crowd laughs.]

“I stand before you as a doormat. 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.

“It’s mind-blowing to be honored like this after the very public year I’ve had.  I feel stuck, and I feel sad.  And quite frankly, today I feel bloated.

[Crowd laughs]

I’m Charlotte Church. And This Is How Women Are Routinely Demoralized by the Music Industry…

“I didn’t really feel like standing up and getting an award — I didn’t feel worthy of that.  But I knew I had to drag myself out of my bed, put on my boots and walk up here and say thank you to you guys.

“In the first year I was held at gunpoint, raped on a rooftop with a knife digging into my throat.”

“I started off in a difficult time.  People were dying of AIDS everywhere.  It wasn’t safe to be gay, it wasn’t cool to be associated with the gay community.  It was 1979 and New York was a very scary place.

“In the first year I was held at gunpoint, raped on a rooftop with a knife digging into my throat. And I had my apartment broken into and robbed so many times I just stopped locking the door.  In the years that followed, I lost almost every friend I had to AIDS or drugs or gunshot.

“So I said ‘fuck it. I’m a different kind of feminist.”

“I remember feeling paralyzed. It took me a while to pull myself together and get on with my creative life — to get on with my life. I took comfort in the poetry of Maya Angelou, and the writings of James Baldwin, and in the music of Nina Simone. I remember wishing I had a female peer I could look to for support. Camille Paglia, the famous feminist writer, said I set women back by objectifying myself sexually. So I thought, ‘oh, if you’re a feminist, you don’t have sexuality, you deny it.’ So I said ‘fuck it. I’m a different kind of feminist. I’m a bad feminist.’

“I realized that I could not be a victim any longer. That everything happened for a reason.  And my job was to learn from every shitstorm I wandered into.”

‘As you can imagine, all these unexpected events not only helped me become the daring woman that stands before you.  But it also reminded me that I am vulnerable.  And in life, there is no real safety except for self-belief.  And, an understanding that I am not the owner of my talents.

“There are no rules — if you’re a boy.”

“I was of course inspired by Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde and Aretha Franklin, but my real muse was David Bowie. 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.  If you’re a girl, you have to play the game.  What is that game?  You are 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. 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, you will be vilified, and you will definitely not be played on the radio.”

“When I first became famous, there were nude photos of me in Penthouse and Playboy magazine.  Photos that were taken from art schools that I posed for back in the day to make money.  They weren’t very sexy.”

I said, ‘Wait a minute, isn’t Prince running around with fishnets and high heels and lipstick with his butt hanging out?’

“Eventually I was left alone because I married Sean Penn, and not only would he would bust a cap in your ass, but I was off the market. For a while I was not considered a threat.  Years later, divorced and single — sorry Sean — I made my Erotica album and my Sex book was released.  I remember being the headline of every newspaper and magazine.  Everything I read about myself was damning.  I was called a whore and a witch.  One headline compared me to Satan.  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.

“This was the first time I truly understood women do not have the same freedom as men.

 

“People say I’m controversial.  But I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around.

[Crowd applause]

“Michael is gone. Tupac is gone. Prince is gone. Whitney is gone. Amy Winehouse is gone. David Bowie is gone. [pause] But I’m still standing.”

[Crowd applause]

“Women have been so oppressed for so long they believe what men have to say about them.”

“I’m one of the lucky ones and every day I count my blessings.

“What I would like to say to all women here today is this: Women have been so oppressed for so long they believe what men have to say about them. They believe they have to back a man to get the job done. And there are some very good men worth backing, but not because they’re men — because they’re worthy. 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 enlightened by.”

“It’s not so much about receiving this award as it is having this opportunity to stand before you and say thank you.  Not only to the people who have loved and supported me along the way, you have no idea…you have no idea how much your support means.”

[Starts tearing up.]

“But 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. It made me the woman that I am today.

“So thank you.”

 

10 Responses

  1. Avatar
    jDre

    Sorry, but I still consider you a whore and a witch. I believe that is my 1st Amendment right, and I am kept up every night worrying that the ignorant masses who actually consider you to be more then what you are, an simple “Entertainer”, to justify their fascist social agenda under the banner of “social justice”.

    Madonna, please check yourself. You are an entertainer.. Nothing more, nothing less.. even if Mr. CIA.., Anderson Vanderbilt tells us otherwise…

    Reply
      • Avatar
        Anonymous

        If only Madonna would realize that if she cloned herself and performed around the clock, while selling her spent, greasy, clones as merch at shows — there would be a 200 BILLION Music Industry overnight!

        Reply
    • Avatar
      Richard

      Your criticism is more telling of you than it is of her.
      Being destructive isn’t brave.

      Reply
    • Avatar
      Blues Slide

      JDre it is absolutely your right to say cruel and ignorant things. It is also your right to educate yourself and open your mind to new ideas. It may lead to new, original thinking on your part. That is your choice, either way your are exercising your freedom. But which is way is the better way? Think about it.

      Reply
  2. Avatar
    tidy

    She in this on-stage impersonation is but a showbiz type–narcissistic and that’s worth some money.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    A Real Feminist

    I’m all for her pro-feminist message but, the self-absorbed myopic recounting of her “struggles is just awful.

    “Camille Paglia, the famous feminist writer, said I set women back by objectifying myself sexually. So I thought, ‘oh, if you’re a feminist, you don’t have sexuality, you deny it.’”

    Um, no. Ms. Paglia didn’t say you set women back by “having sexuality.” She specifically said you set women back by OBJECTIFYING YOURSELF, SEXUALLY.

    WHICH YOU DO, ALL THE TIME. Ferrinstance: “I always feel better with something hard between my legs.”…..

    “…all these unexpected events not only helped me become the daring woman that stands before you.”

    You’re not “daring.” You’re an entertainer. One I personally find cheap. Your music is boring and the personna who have chosen to portray is lowest-common-denominator “slut.”

    “If you’re a girl…., You are allowed to be pretty and cute and sexy. But don’t act too smart. Don’t have an opinion.”

    Sure. Having an opinion certainly held back Condeleeza Rice, Golda Meir, Mother Theresa and Maya Angelou, just to name a few…

    “And finally, do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticized, you will be vilified, and you will definitely not be played on the radio.”

    Yes. This ONLY happens to women. All male artists are constantly played on the radio, regardless of age. Each and every one of them. God forbid you’d ever stop to think the real reason no one plays your stuff anymore is because it was always flavor-of-the-minute crap.

    “I said, ‘Wait a minute, isn’t Prince running around with fishnets and high heels and lipstick with his butt hanging out? But he was a man.”

    Yes, he was. And since you weren’t paying attention, he got the same type of crap for doing that – more of it, in fact – BECAUSE he was a man – as you did.

    “I made my Erotica album and my Sex book was released. I remember being the headline of every newspaper and magazine. I was called a whore and a witch.”

    And your point is???? You sought EXACTLY THAT TYPE of reaction – and then *gasp* you actually GOT it!!!!

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Forever a Fan

    Here’s Madonna’s full speech:-

    “I stand before you as a doormat. 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 misogyny, sexism, constant bullying and relentless abuse.

    “When I started there was no internet, people had to say it to my face. There were very few people I had to clap back at because life was simpler then.

    “People were dying of AIDS everywhere. Manhattan was under siege of a plague It wasn’t safe to be gay, it wasn’t cool to be associated with the gay community. When I first moved to New York I was a teenager. It was 1979 and New York was a very scary place.

    “In the first year I was held up at gunpoint, raped on a rooftop with a knife digging into my throat. And I had my apartment broken into and robbed so many times I just stopped locking the door. In the years to follow, I lost almost every friend I had to AIDS or drugs or gunshot.

    ‘As you can imagine, all these unexpected events not only helped me become the daring woman that stands before you. But it also reminded me that I am vulnerable. And in life, there is no real safety except for self-belief. And, an understanding that I am not the owner of my talents. I’m not the owner of anything. Everything I have is a gift from God and even the shitty fucked up things that have happened to me – that still happen to me – are also gifts to teach me lessons and make me stronger. No matter how much I cry about it when I’m alone, no matter how much I rant about the unfairness of it all to any friend who will listen.

    “I’m not here so much because I care about awards, I’m here because I want to say thank you. I’m receiving an award for being Woman of the Year so I ask myself what can I say about being a woman in the music business, what can I say about being a woman.

    “When I first started writing songs I didn’t think about it in a gender specific way, I didn’t think about feminism, I just wanted to be an artist.

    “I was of course inspired by Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde and Aretha Franklin, but my real muse was David Bowie. 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. If you’re a girl, you have to play the game. What is that game? You are 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. 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, you will be vilified, and you will definitely not be played on the radio.”

    “When I first became famous, there were nude photos of me in Playboy and Penthouse magazine. Photos that were taken from art schools that I posed for back in the day to make money. They weren’t very sexy. In fact I looked quite bored. I was. But I was expected to feel ashamed when these photos came out and I was not and this puzzled people.

    “Eventually I was left alone because I married Sean Penn, and not only would he would bust a cap in your ass, but I was taken off the market. So for a while I was not considered a threat. Years later, divorced and single — sorry Sean — I made my Erotica album and my Sex book was released. I remember being the headline of every newspaper and magazine. Everything I read about myself was damning. I was called a whore and a witch. One headline compared me to Satan. 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. This was the first time I truly understood that women do not really have the same freedom as men.

    “I remember walking down the street in New York with Al Keshishian (the director of Truth or Dare) on a freezing cold night and I said to him I feel like the most hated person on the planet. I remember feeling paralyzed. It took me a while to pull myself together and get on with my creative life — to get on with my life. I took comfort in the poetry of Maya Angelou, and the writings of James Baldwin, and in the music of Nina Simone. I remember wishing I had a female peer I could look to for support. Camille Paglia, the famous feminist writer, said I set women back by objectifying myself sexually. So I thought, ‘oh, if you’re a feminist, you don’t have sexuality, you deny it.’ So I said ‘fuck it. I’m a different kind of feminist. I’m a bad feminist.’

    “A few years later my daughter was born and this new life gave birth to my album ‘Ray of Light’ and an interest in universal laws, the concept of cause and effect, the desire to have a spiritual life. I realized that I could not be a victim any longer. That everything happened for a reason. And my job was to learn from every shitstorm I wandered into and to persevere.

    “In 1984 (I know Im jumping backwards) I made my first big TV appearance on The Dick Clark Show and I sang my song ‘Holiday’. At the end of the show, Dick shoved a microphone in my face and asked me if I had any plans for the future and I said “Yeah – I want to rule the world”. I watched that footage, I looked back at that moment and I am stunned by my audacity. I had not planned to say that – it just fell out of my mouth (like most things). However my ego understood years later that if you ask the universe for a lot – you’re going to get a lot – it just won’t always be pleasant. So once you embrace and accept this universal law you just might survive – not only in the entertainment business, not only the music business but you just might survive this crazy thing called life.

    “I said this last week in a Miami at my fundraiser and I’ll say it again people say I’m controversial. But I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around.

    “Michael is gone. Tupac is gone. Prince is gone. Whitney is gone. Amy Winehouse is gone. David Bowie is gone. But I’m still standing.”

    “I’m one of the lucky ones and every day I count my blessings. There are so many other chapters I’d like to share with you but they said I only have 3 minutes and I’m pretty sure I went over that!

    “What I’d like to share with you as an artist is this – we live in a world now where we get information fast but we don’t get knowledge – knowledge needs to be earned. There are no easy rides. Society perpetuates the idea of no process, technology means we get what we want faster and easier but are we happier? Are we more successful? Does it mean that we have achieved more? I think you know the answer to that. Put your focus on what you have to say to the world not what the world has to say about you.

    “What I would like to say to all women here today is this: Women have been so oppressed for so long they believe what men have to say about them. They believe they have to back a man to get the job done. And there are some very good men worth backing, but not because they’re men — because they’re worthy. 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 be inspired by, to collaborate with, to support, and enlightened by.”

    “True solidarity among women is a power all on its own and no opposing force stands a chance in the face of this solidarity. But women need to feel secure enough to trust themselves, to believe in themselves and when we do we will be unstoppable.

    “As I said before it’s not so much about receiving this award as it is having this opportunity to stand in before you and really say thank as a women, as an artist, as a human. Not only to the people who have loved and supported me along the way, so many of you sitting in front of me right now, you have no idea…you have no idea how much your support means.”

    “But 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. It made me the woman that I am today.

    “So thank you.”

    Reply

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