Hours after Madonna opened her “Rebel Heart” tour in Montreal, a press release trumpeting the performance arrived in music writers’ inboxes the world over.

There, in canned, press release form, was pop music’s ongoing problem in a nutshell: women are held to a different standard.

Amid the granular details about her luxurious attire—“Madonna wears an exotic gypsy outfit comprising a lurex-lace-and-jacquard bodysuit with an embroidered belt, lace short sleeves, and multi-colored trimmings, plus a black crêpe de Chine skirt with embroidered patches and black georgette ruffles,” goes one such breathless passage—was a section that stood out, but not for the reasons Madonna and her publicity team intended.

Near the bottom of the release was a “by the numbers” section, detailing the exhaustive amount of manpower, time and money being poured into the intercontinental tour, which is scheduled to continue through 2016. (The tour sets up shop atMadison Square Garden for a two-night stand Wednesday, with a Barclays Center date set for Saturday.)

Instead of seeing the reams of information as illuminating—500 pairs of custom-made shoes; 20 dancers; more than 25,000 miles traveled—the litany of facts seemed oddly defensive.

“This tour is a lot of hard work,” it seemed to say, “and you should be grateful Madonna even wants to put herself through it.”

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