Madonna’s more than 30-year career has been built on boundary-pushing and re-invention. Some attribute Madonna’s constantly evolving persona to genius; others deride it as nothing more than the ultimate reduction of underground trends for the mainstream. However, whatever your opinions of Madonna’s art, it’s difficult to discount her influence on sexual expression in pop culture when comparing the performances of Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears to the ones that came before the Queen of Pop herself.
Madonna herself, however, doesn’t think that she was truly able to end many of the things that she began the fight against. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Madonna noted that, despite the fact that many limits of censorship have been broken, there is still a huge disconnect in the way people see female pop stars like Miley as opposed to male ones like the members of One Direction. Gender bias, she told the publication, is still alive and well in mainstream music.
“Sexism; you can’t be sexy and intelligent. It’s not allowed. Nothing has changed. I mean, it’s fine if you just wanna go out there and twerk, but the landscape is limited. If you try to embody too many different human aspects in your work, or if you have too many references, people get confused. I see a lot of people getting really pissed off at [Cyrus] because she kind of just acts like a dude—but if she were a dude, no one would say anything.”
Madge feels sexism goes well beyond the double standards for performers like Miley and is found even in the production end of the music industry. In that same interview, the reporter pointed out how Madonna’s reputation for tracking down the best producers for her music is referred to as vampiric or calculated as opposed to savvy as it would be for a male performer. Madonna ruefully agreed with this statement.
“Oh yes. But if I were a man… oh, if I were a man.”
It’s not the first time Madonna has spoken in support of Cyrus in recent interviews promoting her upcoming album Rebel Heart. Though it may have been overshadowed by Madonna finally putting to rest longstanding rumors of a feud of Lady Gaga, she also mentioned how the torch of her overtly sexual persona was being passed on to artists like Miley in a recent interview on The Jonathan Ross Show.
“We live in a different time. Image is a big part of our work. We are exploring our sexuality. I don’t think sexuality was something women were owning up to… I love [Cyrus], Gaga all these guys.”
Do you think Miley Cyrus is carrying on Madonna’s legacy?
[Images via Christopher Polk/Getty Images]