Madge accepted the award on Friday and used the opportunity to speak out against sexism in the entertainment industry, especially the unrealistic standards that women are held to.
“I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer,” she began her speech, which will air during the Billboard Women in Music event on Lifetime later today. “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.”
She continued, “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’s speech is especially poignant because it comes less than a week after she was brutally body-shamed after she performed a charity concert at Miami’s Art Basel. She hasn’t specifically addressed the backlash she received after that performance, but her Woman of the Year speech seems pointed at events like that one.
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