Let’s hear it for the girls. Last night, Madonna spoke on behalf of all of us when she stuck it to the man, essentially, and accepted Billboard’s Woman of the Year award, delivering a heartfelt and brutally honest acceptance speech about the journey of becoming a 58-year-old female entertainer. With a feminist undertone and funny yet honest outlook, she outlined her experience as a young artist living in New York, experiencing hardships, misogyny, loss, and triumph, in an industry whose sexist attitude seemed to make it almost impossible to succeed in a world full of men.
Perhaps one of the most inspirational moments of her time on stage was when she said what we have all felt as females at one point or another in our lives, acknowledging that there are rules that apply simply by being female. “If you’re a girl, you have to play the game,” she said. “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 important, 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.”
Madonna then closed out her speech with some very much-need advice. “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.” Wise words to remember as we head into a new year.