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Madonna: the double standards applied to the Queen of Pop are astonishing

The music icon continues to battle through ageist and sexist commentary leading up to Madame X.

Madonna - Medellin
Credit: Live Nation/Interscope/Maverick

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you probably know that Madonna has a new album coming out in June.

Madame X, released 14th June, is the Queen of Pop’s fourteenth studio album and her first since 2015’s warmly received Rebel Heart. Throughout her career Madonna has courted controversy and regularly pulled the spotlight in her direction as she’s reinvented herself with every album.

Inevitably that attracts criticism, ‘thought-pieces’ and armchair critics giving their two-pennies worth on everything she does. That’s all fine, after all Madonna put herself in the limelight and she’s proven time-and-time again that’s she a very tough cookie.

What isn’t fine, is the level of bile directed at Madonna for everything other than the music she’s recording and releasing. Take the reaction in some parts to Medellín, the latin-rhythmed summer groove featuring Latin Pop’s biggest star Maluma. Rather than talking about the song, which is actually probably Madonna’s best lead single for an album since 2005’s Hung Up from Confessions On A Dance Floor, some have chosen to focus on the age-gap between Madonna and Maluma.

It actually astounds me that we have to be reminded of Madonna’s age all the time. Aaliyah once sang Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number but it seems if you’re a woman in pop music, your age will be used as a bat to beat you with. The number of tweets and social media comments I saw calling the video to Medellín ‘cringeworthy’ was pretty shocking but more disheartening was that these ‘critics’, who were overwhelmingly female, were using the age of another woman to suggest Madonna may be ‘past it’.

Now forgive me if I’ve missed something here but I’m pretty sure that if you don’t want to see or hear Madonna, it’s pretty easy in this day and age right? Filter her out of your social media feed, turn over the radio or simply don’t go seeking her music. All of those things would be better alternatives to spreading ageist and sexist comments on social media.

In 2016 when Madonna collected the Woman of the Year Award at the Billboard Women in Music event, she spoke candidly about the uphill battle she’s faced from the start of her career. She admitted the most controversial things she has done is to simply stick around in a male-dominated music industry.

Fast-forward three years and Madonna is covering British Vogue and opening up about the fight she’s had throughout the career. That interview was picked up as a ‘Hot Topic’ on US chat show The View where once again, a woman completely failed to show solidarity for another female. Rather than take the interview for what it was, an in-depth long at the incredible longevity of pop music’s most enduring star, panellist Abby Huntsman decided to dismiss the interview as Madonna trying to get people to feel sorry for her. I’m sorry to say Abby, you’ve completely missed the point.

Madonna doesn’t need you, or anyone else to feel sorry for her. She’s dominated the entertainment industry with her drive, determination and talent. What she was trying to get across is the unfair double standards applied to women in entertainment, particularly those who dare to continue past the age of 30.

I mean, she has a point doesn’t she? Clearly. No one mutters a word when the Rolling Stones haul themselves around the world for another tour or Bob Dylan continues to play shows well into his 70s. Yet when Madonna does it she’s ‘desperate’, ‘attempting to be relevant’ or ‘refusing to give up’.

Similarly, you see plenty of ageing male stars teaming up with much younger women on their records and no one bats an eye lid. Madonna teams up with Maluma, a handsome 25-year-old Colombian star, and she’s liked to a vampire trying to suck the life out of her youthful collaborator to stay relevant. The comments following her recent show-stopping Billboard Music Awards performance reached new lows with everything from her outfit to her interactions with Maluma criticised as ‘inappropriate’.

Next time you feel like jumping onto social media to direct irrelevant ageist and sexist comments in the direction of the Queen of Pop, maybe take a moment to think about what it is you hope to achieve. Feel free to share constructive criticism about her music, but drop the double standards that would never be applied to a man of the same age or older.

All I ask is that people show respect where respect is due, to one of the pioneering artists of our time. If it wasn’t for Madonna, many of today’s female chart stars wouldn’t be where they are now. She paved the wave for women and helped bring attention to the plight of majorities, especially the gay community.

After all, the fact that the world is still talking about Madonna, shows she has lost none of her status or power, and that people still can’t help but pay attention to her every move.

Madonna will release new album Madame X on 14th June 2019. She will be touring in the UK in January and February 2020.

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