A clip of a conversation between Madonna and a BBC interviewer in 1992 has recently resurfaced, and her stance hasn't changed over the last three decades.
The 65-year-old Queen of Pop has been putting up with people commenting on her looks and how she has aged for her entire career, and the comments after the 2023 Grammys last February merely continued the trend.
People took issue with what she chose to wear to the awards show, with some complaining that someone her age shouldn't wear something intentionally sexy on stage.
She was there to introduce Kim Petras and Sam Smith before their historic performance but some, including insufferable talking head Piers Morgan, felt the need to comment on Madonna's appearance instead — sharing a photo of her taken from an unfavorable angle with the caption "I thought Halloween was in October?" on X (formerly Twitter).
Unlike Morgan, Madonna was focused on the history being made that night.
"I wanted to give the last award which was album of the year, but I thought it was more important that I present the first trans woman performing at the Grammys – a history making moment!! And on top of that she won a Grammy!!"
She rightly pointed out that distorted photos don't flatter anyone:
"Many people chose to only talk about close-up photos of me taken with a long lens camera by a press photographer that would distort anyone’s face!!"
Then she called out the culture that makes it acceptable to criticize women in the public eye so harshly.
"Once again I am caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny That permeates the world we live in.
A world that refuses to celebrate women past the age of 45 And feels the need to punish her If she continues to be strong willed, hard-working and adventurous."
She won't be changing her stance against this attitude or bowing to the pressure any time soon, either.
"I have never apologized for any of the creative choices I have made nor the way that I look or dress and I’m not going to start. I have been degraded by the media since the beginning of my career but I understand that this is all a test and I am happy to do the trailblazing so that all the women behind me can have an easier time in the years to come."
Her answers to the 1992 interview questions about her sexuality and aging serve as more than sufficient proof that she has always railed against the idea that women should be demure and change themselves for the public gaze.
The interviewer asked Madonna if she would challenge the idea that women lose their sexuality or sex appeal as they age.
"Yes, I think that not only do we suffer from racism, and sexism, and things like that, but we also suffer from ageism and that is that once you reach a certain age, you're not allowed to be adventurous; you're not allowed to be sexual. And I think that's rather hideous."
She then called out her critics.
"A lot of people said 'oh, it's so pathetic,' or 'I hope she's not still doing that in 10 years,' — I mean, who cares? What if I am?"
"I mean, is there a rule? What, are you supposed to just die when you're 40?"
"And that's basically what everyone wants people to do and I think that's stupid. You're just supposed to kind of put yourself out to pasture?"
"Life is long. People are living to be 100 years old so, you know, I don't get it."
Many agreed with Madonna's message.
Her attitude toward people saying that she was having sex with women was very pointed, and definitely not the usual attitude of the early 1990s. There's nothing wrong with being gay, so there's no need to vehemently deny any accusations.
"I’m very intrigued by bisexuality and homosexuality, that doesn’t mean that I necessarily experience it. I don’t think it’s relevant. People say: ‘Oh, she sleeps with women,’ I don’t bother to deny it because I don’t think it matters. Who cares?"
"I mean, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, so I’m not going to go around going: ‘Oh god, that’s not true, that’s not true!'"
Madonna hasn't wavered in her belief that women should be able to express their sexuality as they choose, no matter their age, since that interview in 1992.
When will our society let women just be?