Madonna Janet Jackson

A couple months back, Madonna was criticized for comparing ageism to racism and homophobia. She spoke about the issue to Rolling Stone.

“No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black or dare to say a degrading remark on Instagram about someone being gay. But my age – anybody and everybody would say something degrading to me. And I always think to myself, why is that accepted? What’s the difference between that and racism, or any discrimination?”

Madonna may want to view Instagram more, where there are plenty of racist and homophobic posts. However, Madonna certainly has a point as well. In our society, racism and homophobia is generally looked down on. Ageism (and even sexism) seems to be widely accepted.

Artists like Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, and others can completely get away with being sexual and “not acting their age.” If they date much younger women, they are generally looked upon favorably. When Madonna or Demi Moore do it, they are “cougars.”

Janet Jackson has a lot in common with Madonna. While Ms. Jackson has spoken out against Madonna in the past, she has a lot more in common with Madonna than she wants to believe. Case in point: Her new “comeback” single “No Sleeep” was critically acclaimed, but shunned by radio stations. It debuted at No. 67 and dropped off the charts the next week.

Madonna’s whole album Rebel Heart is her most critically acclaimed album in 10 years. But it has been completely ignored by mainstream radio. She pulled a Hot 100 hit recently with “Bit*h I’m Madonna,” but that’s mostly because the video has received millions of views. Madonna has been brutally bashed recently because of her age. The same for Janet. An article by Robert Paul Reyes of the Student Operated Press had some harsh words for Jackson on Tuesday.

“Even if Janet Jackson had an ‘accidental’ wardrobe-malfuncion, exposing her nether regions, it wouldn’t help her move merchandise. Jackson’s single No Sleeep is a snoozer, and the album from which it comes from is as effective as Propofol in inducing sleep. Jackson might as well fall into external sleep, she’s a tired and played-out old lady.”

Articles like this, which appear too many times to degrade women based on their age, should be of concern — even to millennials who will, one day, be over 40 and called “old.” There are certainly reasons one could criticize Janet Jackson and her new single. However, just like her race, her age should not be a factor.

The next time you are on Twitter or Facebook and a friend of yours criticizes a woman for being old, too veiny, or even suggests that she “acts her age,” you should not be silent. Unless more people speak up about this issue, our society (and especially women like Janet Jackson who work hard enough to live past a certain age) will suffer.