Nicki Minaj (left) and Madonna perform during the halftime show at the Super Bowl in February. In a song from Madonna's new album, MDNA, the two singers each play with traditionally feminine and masculine gender roles. Rob Carr/Getty Images hide caption

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Beyonce as her onstage alter ego Sasha Fierce at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009. Christopher Polk / Getty Images hide caption

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The Record

Pop Personae: Why Do Some Women Perform In Character?

Female performers like Beyonce create alter egos to reach out beyond themselves and to their fans.

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