Cheers Sexy People!Madonna delivers a powerful speech while accepting her Billboard Woman of the Year 2016 award at Billboard’s Women in Music Event. When she graciously took the stage (with notes in hand that she never referenced once), she delivered a powerful, touching, and incredible message. In her speech, she talks about her musical inspirations and the lesson she learned from her idol David Bowie. She then goes on to speak about feminism and the inequality with how men and women are treated in the music industry when it comes to sexual expression. She spoke of how rough her experience living in New York City was in the 80s when she was a repeated victim of rape and sexual assault.
And finally, she points out how women can treat other women and/or support them:
“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.’
…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.”
Her message resonates with this “bad feminist” quite strongly. When I got promoted at my job at a design firm above my male peers, I was labeled as “aggressive” even though I didn’t even ask for the promotion let alone be “aggressive” of my pursuit of it (though I did graciously accept the promotion happily!). As the only female as well as the female lead in a rock band for many years, I had to endure comments from people such as my own drummer about my choice of short skirts and how I looked on stage. Yet it has always been a great idea to look your best on stage and work your “assets” (male or female). Hey, it’s rock and roll! As a female business owner, I get asked to lower my prices often even with 25 years of experience and awards under my belt. Do men in my field get asked to lower their prices? Woman already are making only about 75% of what men make in virtually every industry. As a sex positive woman who founded the Loving Without Boundaries movement and owns her sexuality, I get called a “slut” and a “whore” for enjoying my sexuality and poly identity, being proud of it, and trying to help others reduce shame around theirs. At the same time this is happening, I get hit on by the very same men. Finally I get push-back and lack of support from women all of the time (as Madonna alluded to in her life as well) as I try to make a positive difference in the world, including even this morning. What would happen if we stood together and cheered each other on as we bravely create awesome in the world (instead of feeling threatened, criticizing, and putting blockades up)?
I find Madonna’s strength, perseverance, bravery and general “go fuck yourself if you don’t like what I create” attitude a breathe of fresh air every time I stop to take note. I have loved her since the 80s and will continue to do so. You go, girl! I got yo back forever! Thanks for having mine and paving the way for women everywhere to own who they are and never give up! Thank you for daring greatly and showing us how it’s done!
Read Madonna’s speech excerpts below:
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.
Recalling her life as a teenager when she first moved to New York:
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 stopped locking the door. In the years that followed, I lost almost every friend I had to AIDS or drugs or gunshots.
In life there is no real safety except for self-belief.
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. There are rules if you’re a girl.
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.
Madonna also opened up about the time in her life when she felt “like the most hated person on the planet” as she became emotional…
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.
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 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.
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 be 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 [tears up for the second time]. 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.
If this speech ever needed to be delivered, it was now. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU, Madonna.
How about you? What are your thoughts and feelings about Madonna’s acceptance speech? Do you think she dared greatly or she went too far? I’d love to hear!
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)