St: Arianne Phillips
When Madonna delivered her acceptance speech at Billboard’s Women in Music 2016 awards event, she drew the spotlight to the immense challenges she’s faced as a woman working to succeed in the male-dominated music industry. She spoke of being bullied, held at gunpoint, raped, robbed, losing friends to AIDS, being criticized for being too smart, for being too sexy, for being too opinionated, for being a feminist, for not being enough of a feminist, and for aging. In other words, her message was exactly what was expected, needed — or at least, hoped for — for an occasion celebrating the achievements of women. After describing her difficult rise to the top, Madonna addressed the need for women to appreciate their own worth.
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.
Madonna thanked both her supporters and her haters.
“It’s not so much about receiving this award as it is having this opportunity to stand before you and say thank you,” Madonna said, closing out her speech. “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,” she said, tearing 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.”
As seen in the video below, Madonna cast her win in the light of Hillary Clinton’s surprise electoral defeat in this year’s divisive, tainted presidential election. To most (Hillary won the popular vote by nearly 3 million) Hillary’s loss felt like devastating blow. In turn, Madonna heard that call that we need all our cultural heroes standing up and defending their worth. It’s not an easy task, but trailblazing heroes aren’t ones to take the easy path.
Picking up this thread, the New York Times has published a conversation between political correspondent Patrick Healy and pop music editor Caryn Ganz, in which they explore the distinct but sometimes converging trailblazing paths of Madonna and Hillary Clinton. Both have risen to prominence, and gained power in male-dominated arenas. Both have survived decades of criticism by maintaining an unequaled work ethic and meticulous standards. However, the comparing of Madonna and Hillary is recent.
CARYN GANZ: Mrs. Clinton is so buttoned up and Madonna is so, well, unbuttoned, that I think many people have been hesitant to make this connection. And because Madonna has used sexual expressiveness as code for all kinds of liberation, she hasn’t been courted as a political ally. But now that both of them have reached a certain age, the sexism they’ve faced for decades has become something more insidious, paired with ageism.
Madonna, at Billboard’s Woman of the Year 2016 ceremony:
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.
Watch Madonna’s speech as Billboard’s Woman of the Year below.
Madonna’s Carpool Karaoke with James Corden is a blast. She and James clearly had fun, which is fun to watch. It’s why we keep watching. This is a Madonna specialty, one of many.
Decked out in Moschino, Madonna sings and car dances to some of her classic hits and fan favorites. “Vogue,” “Express Yourself,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Bitch I’m Madonna,” “Ray of Light,” and “Music” play as the two navigate New York traffic.
Is there Voguing? Of course. Twerking? Yes. Taunting James about his red flannel shirt? Yep. A revelation about kissing Michael Jackson? Yes.
“You were friends with Michael Jackson,” Corden prompted at one point. “So you want me to kiss and tell then don’t you?” Madonna responded.
“Did you kiss?” he asked hesitantly. “Of course. I mean, baby, I’ve been around,” she said. “Full French kissing. Tongue and mouth kissing.”
Corden confessed that the alleged make out was news to him, to which Madonna responded, “Well I haven’t had the chance to talk about it. No one ever asks me.”
No one ever asks? Once again, journalists haven’t been doing their job.
Madonna’s Billboard interview is conducted by the talented actress, producer, director Elizabeth Banks. The magazine describes the interview with Madonna as provocative. Maybe it is, in a sense. For us, it’s a conversation that touches on familiar themes: Madonna’s attention to detail, interest in politics, and her love and dedication to her family. Not that we’re complaining. Madonna is a hero among heroes.
Read Madonna’s full interview with Elizabeth Banks here, but below are some of our favorite excerpts.
Will there ever be a time that you let go of that control, or is this like, “I have to?”
I have to.
Where does that come from?
Obviously, you could say it has to do with my childhood, if you’re going to psychoanalyze me: My mother dying and me not being told, and a sense of loss and betrayal and surprise. Then feeling out of control for the majority of my childhood, and becoming an artist and saying that I will control everything. No one will speak for me, no one will make decisions for me. You could say I’m a super control freak. That’s what everybody likes to say. I don’t want to have an event that I’m not proud of. It’s like everything that I do. My shows, my films, my house, the way I raise my children. I take great offense when details are overlooked.
Speaking of: How did you feel about the outcome of the election?
It felt like someone died. It felt like a combination of the heartbreak and betrayal you feel when someone you love more than anything leaves you, and also a death. I feel that way every morning; I wake up and say, “Oh, wait, Donald Trump is still the president,” and it wasn’t a bad dream that I had. It feels like women betrayed us. The percentage of women who voted for Trump was insanely high.
Why do you think that is?
Women hate women. That’s what I think it is. Women’s nature is not to support other women. It’s really sad. Men protect each other, and women protect their men and children. Women turn inward and men are more external. A lot of it has do with jealousy and some sort of tribal inability to accept that one of their kind could lead a nation. Other people just didn’t bother to vote because they didn’t like either candidate, or they didn’t think Trump had a chance in the world. They took their hands off the wheel and then the car crashed.
Were you surprised?
Of course. I was devastated, surprised, in shock. I haven’t really had a good night’s sleep since he has been elected. We’re f—ed.