“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 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 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.
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.
What is that game?
You’re 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 young.
“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,” she urged.
“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.”