During her speech, Madonna addressed her tough journey coming up in the music industry.
"Thank you for acknowledging my ability to continue my career for 34 years in the face of blank misogyny, sexism, constant bullying and relentless abuse," she declared, before opening up about moving to New York in 1979 to start her career. "In the first year, I was held up at gunpoint, raped on a rooftop with a knife digging into my throat, and I had my apartment broken into 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," she added. "As you can imagine, all of 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 self-belief and an understanding that I am not the owner of my talents."
Madonna also had a powerful message for women with similar stories. "You are 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,” she said sarcastically. "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 age is a sin. You will be criticized. You will be vilified. And you will definitely not be played on the radio.”
Ahead of her speech, Madonna spoke with ET about being recognized as the magazine's Woman of the Year. "It is an honor, obviously great, to come here and receive this award," she said. "But more important to speak about women in music and women in general in the world today."
"I wouldn't make that comparison at all and I don't mean to disrespect Madonna, she's a nice lady, and she's had a fantastic huge career, biggest pop star of all time," Gaga explained. "But I play a lot of instruments. I write all my own music. I spend hours and hours a day in the studio. I'm a producer. I'm a writer. What I do is different."
She continued, "I just will not be compared to anyone anymore. I am who the f**k I am and this is me. My life story is my life story, just like yours is."