Various music journalists, critical theorists, and authors have deemed Madonna the most influential female recording artist of all time.
 Author Carol Clerk wrote that "during her career, Madonna has transcended the term 'pop star' to become a global cultural icon."
Rolling Stone of Spain wrote that "She became the first viral Master of Pop in history, years before the Internet was massively used. Madonna was everywhere; in the almighty music television channels, 'radio formulas', magazine covers and even in bookshops. A pop dialectic, never seen since
The Beatles's reign, which allowed her to keep on the edge of tendency and commerciality."
 Laura Barcella in her book Madonna and Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop (2012) wrote that "really, Madonna changed everything the musical landscape, the '80s look
du jour, and most significantly, what a mainstream female pop star could (and couldn't) say, do, or accomplish in the public eye."
 William Langley from
The Daily Telegraph felt that "Madonna has changed the world's
social history, has done more things as more different people than anyone else is ever likely to."
Alan McGee from
The Guardian felt that Madonna is a post-modern art, the likes of which we will never see again. He further asserted that Madonna and
Michael Jackson invented the terms
Queen and King of Pop.
According to Tony Sclafani from
MSNBC, "It's worth noting that before Madonna, most music mega-stars were guy rockers; after her, almost all would be female singers ... When The Beatles hit America, they changed the paradigm of performer from solo act to band. Madonna changed it back—with an emphasis on the female."
 Howard Kramer, curatorial director of the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, asserted that "Madonna and the career she carved out for herself made possible virtually every other female pop singer to follow ... She certainly raised the standards of all of them ... She redefined what the parameters were for female performers."
 According to Fouz-Hernández, subsequent female singers such as
Kylie Minogue, the
Jennifer Lopez, and
Pink were like her "daughters in the very direct sense that they grew up listening to and admiring Madonna, and decided they wanted to be like her."
Time magazine included her in the list of the "25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century", where she became one of only two singers to be included, alongside
 She also topped
VH1's lists of "100 Greatest Women in Music" and "50 Greatest Women of the Video Era".
Madonna's use of sexual imagery has benefited her career and catalyzed public discourse on sexuality and feminism.
 As Roger Chapman documents in Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices, Volume 1 (2010), she has drawn frequent condemnation from religious organizations, social conservatives and parental watchdog groups for her use of explicit, sexual imagery and lyrics, religious symbolism, and otherwise "irreverent" behavior in her live performances.
 The Times wrote that she had "started a revolution amongst women in music ... Her attitudes and opinions on sex, nudity, style and sexuality forced the public to sit up and take notice."
John Fiske noted that the sense of empowerment that Madonna offers is inextricably connected with the pleasure of exerting some control over the meanings of self, of sexuality, and of one's social relations.
 In Doing Gender in Media, Art and Culture (2009), the authors noted that Madonna, as a female celebrity, performer, and pop icon, is able to unsettle standing feminist reflections and debates.
 According to lesbian feminist
Sheila Jeffreys, Madonna represents woman's occupancy of what
Monique Wittig calls the category of sex, as powerful, and appears to gleefully embrace the performance of the sexual corvée allotted to women.
Sut Jhally has referred to Madonna as "an almost sacred feminist icon."
Madonna has received acclaim as a role model for businesswomen in her industry, "achieving the kind of financial control that women had long fought for within the industry", and generating over $1.2 billion in sales within the first decade of her career.
 Professor Colin Barrow from
Cranfield School of Management described Madonna as "America's smartest businesswoman ... who has moved to the top of her industry and stayed there by constantly reinventing herself."
London Business School academics called her a "dynamic entrepreneur" worth copying; they identified her vision of success, her understanding of the music industry, her ability to recognize her own performance limits (and thus bring in help), her willingness to work hard and her ability to adapt as the keys to her commercial success.
 Morton wrote that "Madonna is opportunistic, manipulative, and ruthless—somebody who won't stop until she gets what she wants—and that's something you can get at the expense of maybe losing your close ones. But that hardly mattered to her."
 Hazel Blackmore and Rafael Fernández de Castro in the book ¿Qué es Estados Unidos? from the
Fondo de Cultura Económica, noted: "Madonna has been undoubtedly the most important woman in the history of popular music and a great businesswoman in herself; creating fashion, breaking taboos and provoking controversies."
 According to
Forbes, Madonna is the wealthiest woman in the