Madonna Pulls No Punches When Talking About Ageism In The Entertainment Industry

"Age is only brought up with regard to women."

Madonna has been blazing trails in the music industry for three decades, so it's no surprise that Billboard magazine named her its Woman of the Year for 2016. For the cover story, actress Elizabeth Banks interviewed the pop star, with whom she worked closely in the 2002 film Swept Away.

At one point in their conversation, the focus turns to ageism in the music industry. Madonna, who is 58, has been one of the most prominent and outspoken targets of age-related criticism. Banks begins by mentioning the difficulty many older women in Hollywood face when seeking great acting roles. "I imagine it's even tougher to be a woman of a certain age in pop music," she suggests. "When you go into the studio or mount a tour like Rebel Heart, are you concerned about staying relevant?"


Madonna doesn't beat around the bush in her response:

"I don't care. It's the rest of society that cares. I don't ever think about my age until someone says something about it. I feel that I have wisdom, experience, knowledge and a point of view that is important. Can a teenager relate to that? Probably not. But that's OK. I understand that."

She goes on to mention the double standard that allows men to age into their careers and remain respected, while famous women are frequently judged or questioned as they get older:

"'Relevance' is a catchphrase that people throw out because we live in a world full of discrimination. Age is only brought up with regard to women. It's connected to sexism, chauvinism and misogyny. When Leonardo [DiCaprio] is 60 years old, no one is going to talk about his relevance. Am I relevant as a female in this society that hates women? Well, to people who are educated and are not chauvinists or ­misogynists, yes."

This discussion of sexism carries over into Madonna's thoughts on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. She expresses disappointment that so many people, particularly women, voted for Donald Trump, whom she does not believe is qualified for the position. She adds that she has "gotten into major arguments" with Trump supporters who say "they would rather have a successful businessman running the country than a woman who lies. Just absurd."

When asked whether she thinks she can help make a change, she says, "I was put on this earth to fight for the underdog and fight against discrimination."

You can read Madonna's full interview with Billboard here.


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