Madonna on Motherhood, Being Sexually Assaulted

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Material Girl Madonna covers the November issue of Harper’s Bazaar. In a cover story essay, the pop superstar, 55, opens up about the joys of motherhood to her four kids - Lourdes, 16, Rocco, 13, David, 8, and Mercy, 7 – and her traumatic experience of being raped in New York City.

On being sexually assaulted: “New York wasn’t everything I thought it would be. It did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back, had my apartment broken into three times. I don’t know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time.”

On arriving into NYC: “It wasn’t anything I prepared for. Trying to be a professional dancer, paying my rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked. Daring them to think of me as anything but a form they were trying to capture with their pencils and charcoal. I was defiant. Hell-bent on surviving. On making it. But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going.”

On her teen years: “Most people thought I was strange. I didn’t have many friends; I might not have had any friends. But it all turned out good in the end, because when you aren’t popular and you don’t have a social life, it gives you more time to focus on your future. And for me, that was going to New York to become a REAL artist. To be able to express myself in a city of nonconformists. To revel and shimmy and shake in a world and be surrounded by daring people.”

On wanting motherhood: “At 35, I was divorced and looking for love in all the wrong places. I decided that I needed to be more than a girl with gold teeth and gangster boyfriends. More than a sexual provocateur imploring girls not to go for second-best baby. I began to search for meaning and a real sense of purpose in life. I wanted to be a mother.”

On adopting David: “This was an eye opening experience” and “a real low point in my life. I didn’t know that trying to adopt a child was going to land me in another sh– storm. I was accused of kidnapping, child trafficking, using my celebrity muscle to jump ahead in the line, bribing government officials, witchcraft, you name it. I could get my head around people giving me a hard time for simulating masturbation onstage or publishing my Sex book, even kissing Britney Spears at an awards show, but trying to save a child’s life was not something I thought I would be punished for. . . In any case, I got through it. I survived.”

On adopting Mercy: “When I adopted Mercy James, I put my armor on. I tried to be more prepared. I braced myself. This time I was accused by a female Malawian judge that because I was divorced, I was an unfit mother. I fought the supreme court and I won. It took almost another year and many lawyers. I still got the shit kicked out of me, but it didn’t hurt as much. And looking back, I do not regret one moment of the fight.”

On her life now: “Ten years later, here I am, divorced and living in New York. I have been blessed with four amazing children. I try to teach them to think outside the box. To be daring. To choose to do things because they are the right thing to do, not because everybody else is doing them. I have started making films, which is probably the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done. I am building schools for girls in Islamic countries and studying the Qur’an. I think it is important to study all the holy books. As my friend Yaman always tells me, a good Muslim is a good Jew, and a good Jew is a good Christian, and so forth. I couldn’t agree more. To some people this is a very daring thought.”

For more from Madonna, go to Harper’s Bazaar

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