Eighteen years ago, Madonna observed: “Once you pass 35, your age becomes part of the first sentence of anything written. It’s a form of limiting your options and almost putting you in your place. For women, naturally.” She was 47 when she said that and intent on challenging the cultural script that suggested women, especially female performers, had a use-by date.

“Why is that acceptable?” she asked the music writer Brian Hiatt nearly 10 years later, still battling critics who told her to dress her age, act her age — in short, pack it in and retreat from the spotlight because she was past her prime. “Women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they’re not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don’t follow the rules.”

To the question “Is she still relevant?” her Celebration Tour, which concluded this month, is proof that she is. Madonna performed before the largest audience ever gathered to watch a female artist and staged the single biggest free stand-alone concert in history: 1.6 million people turned Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach into a dance floor on May 4. According to Billboard, her six-month, 80-show tour grossed $225.4 million, making her the only woman in history to gross more than $100 million during each of six concert tours. (The only solo male in that category is Bruce Springsteen.)

Full article at New York Times