Top Ten Favorite Feminist Songs

by - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This may seem like a  rather limited category, but the more you look, the more genuinely great music there is out there to pump you up. You don't even need to be a feminist (though, why aren't you?) to enjoy this music, which is pretty fantastic in its own right. There are even great feminist Christian bands like the Barlow Girls (heck yes they can be feminist) and Superchick. Most of these people don't hit the mainstream, but that doesn't mean they aren't awesome. Definitely check these ones out.

Honorable Mention:
"Just a Girl" No Doubt, "People Got a Lotta Nerve" Neko Case, "Boys Wanna Be Her" Peaches, Indigo Girls "Closer to Fine," Fugazi "Suggestion," Talib Kwali ft. Jean Grae- "Black Girl Pain", Lesley Gore "You Don't Own Me" (1963), Superchick "One Girl Revolution" The Butchies "Make yr Life"

10. Le Tigre "Hot Topic" - a kind of retro sounding song that lists off all sorts of feminist icons as it goes. Great for if you are needing to be inspired, and if you want to learn a little bit about the subculture, start looking up the names they are dropping. I pretty much want to be Kathleen Hanna when I grow up, and a ton of Le Tigre's music certainly applies, but this one is a great song and a history lesson all in one. Some Lyrics:

Carol Rama and Eleanor Antin
Yoko Ono and Carolee Schneeman
You're getting old, that's what they'll say, but
Don't give a damn I'm listening anyway

Stop, don't you stop
I can't live if you stop
Don't you stop

9. Madonna "Express Yourself"- Yeah, Madonna pisses people off, but the older I get, the more I think she is definitely a badass. There is something especially admirable about working in the system, being that outspoken, and still gaining mainstream success. This is my favorite Madonna lady anthem- you would think women would be singing about these things sooner, but she really did take it to another level.

8. Team Dresch "She's Amazing" (1995)- Team Dresch was part of that same feminist scene in the 90's, but they haven't gotten nearly the attention they deserve because their songs dealt with queerness as well as feminism. These songs are heavy with the experience of the band members (when queerness was even more stigmatized), and it is that truthfulness that makes you just feel through the songs. "She's Amazing" is a song about how women can help (even save) each other. This song has a slower beat than most of what we call feminist punk, but as another blogger said, that is part of what makes it timeless. Some lyrics:

many people will try to destroy her
but if she were to stop I stop we all stop
she's amazing her words save me
she holds her head as if it's truth

7. Bratmobile "Cool Schmool"- this song is bratty and playful and cool. Taking on a boy or a bully with a sort of young feeling spunkiness. Girls need to listen to this one in school, because it really is irreverent toward those sorts of scales of coolness in a smart and funny way.

I don't want you to tell me what's so cool
I don't wanna go back to jr. highschool
I don't want anyone to tell me how thin I am
I don't want to die for your fucking candy treats
Cool schmool

6. Sleater-Kinney "#1 Must Have"- If I were naming my favorite feminist band, they may be at the top of the list. Just so good, and this is one of their best. Probably some of my favorite lyrics ever.

No more
and for the ladies out there i wish
we could write more than the next
marketing bid
Culture is what we make it
yes it is
now is the time
to invent

5. Robyn- "Who's that Girl?"Oh who doesn't love Robyn?And when she isn't rocking mind blowing dance moves, she writes a super catchy song that has a simple but important feminist message. Go ahead, watch the video and try not to love her. Some lyrics:

Good girls don't say no or ask you why I won't let you love me until you really try Good girls are sexy like everyday I'm only sexy when I say, "It's okay"

Let's play a game that you've never tried You be the girl and I'll be the guy Let's pretend everything has changed And then would you love me any different?

4. Aretha Franklin "Respect"- Hell yes. Give her her freaking propers, people. Aretha is the queen for a reason, and her music exudes pure power. I debated between this and "Think" which is my favorite Franklin song, but in some cases you just can't fight the classic (especially when it is classic for such a goos reason). Listen to one of the early concert versions if you want to hear her skill and variation.

3. Billie Holiday "Strange Fruit"- Billie Holiday is a tough sell as a feminist icon, especially because she had a number of complicated and abusive relationships with men, but I couldn't stop thinking this song belonged on this list, if only because of the absolute courage it took to record it (so early in her career) and the incredible complexity and pain of the lyrical content. Every iteration of her performance renders you speechless in a new way, and a woman gets to tell a representative cultural story first. This song changes people's worlds.

2. X-Ray Spex "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!" (1977) Poly Styrene was the bomb. All of the feminist punk from the 90's owes this band big time, and I could listen to this song everyday and somehow not get sick of it.

1. Bikini Kill "Rebel Girl"- Again, a classic, but it belongs at the top for a good reason. This song has a great beat and hook, but more importantly it balances its punk power with sensitive cultural thoughtfulness. Some lyrics:

 That girl thinks she's the queen of the neighborhood
I got news for you, she is!
They say she's a dyke, but I know
She is my best friend, yeah

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