53-year-old Madonna covers Harper’s Bazaar‘s December 2011 issue.  The pop icon shares the stage with W.E. (Madonna’s directorial movie) actress Andrea Riseborough.

Check out what the super star, and director had to say:

On her sense of self: “I think it’s just that as a creative person, in all the different things that I’ve done or ways that I’ve found to express myself, I’ve consistently come up against resistance in certain areas. I think that the world is not comfortable with female sexuality. It’s always coming from a male point of view, and a woman is being objectified by a man—and even women are comfortable with that. But when a woman does it, ironically, women are uncomfortable with it. I think a lot of that has to do with conditioning.”

On escaping that conditioning: “The fact that I didn’t have a mother helped me in some respect, and that I didn’t have a female role model. I was always very aware of sexual politics, growing up in a Catholic-Italian family in the Midwest, seeing that my brothers could do what they wanted but the girls were always told that they needed to dress a certain way, act a certain way. We were told to wear our skirts to our knees, turtlenecks, cover ourselves and not wear makeup, and not do anything that would draw attention.”

Also pictured inside is Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes, heading to school on Wednesday (November 9) in NYC.