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List of feminist anthems Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_feminist_anthems

Mexican women performing the protest song "Un violador en tu camino" (A Rapist in Your Path)

This is a list of songs described as feminist anthems, celebrating women's empowerment, or used as protest songs against gender inequality. These songs range from airy pop affirmations such as "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper, to solemn calls to action such as "We Shall Go Forth" by Margie Adam.

Songs have been used for many years to bring people together to work for women's rights. In the United States, the 1884 song "The Equal-Rights Banner" was sung to the tune of the US national anthem by American activists for women's voting rights.[1] "The March of the Women" and "The Women's Marseillaise" were sung by British suffragettes as anthems of the women's suffrage movement in the 1900s–1910s.

The most prominent anthem of second-wave feminism is Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman", a pop song which appeared as an album track in 1971 without making a splash. It was released a second time in May 1972 after being altered and re-recorded. This improved version of the song slowly climbed the United States single charts, its airplay resisted by male deejays at radio stations, but urged forward by the demand of female listeners. The song finally hit number 1 in December 1972.[2] "I Am Woman", with its uplifting message of female strength, was played and sung many times by women promoting the cause of feminism. In 2020, a documentary about the making of the song was released: I Am Woman, starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Reddy.[3]

During the 1970s, earlier songs such as Aretha Franklin's "Respect" (1967) were brought forward as feminist anthems. Franklin's song, originally written by Otis Redding but significantly reworked by Franklin, serves multiple purposes including standing firm in personal relationships, advocating women's rights, and asserting racial equality for African Americans.[4][5]

Before the women's liberation movement, popular songs sung by women often expressed subservience to men. Songs about independence from men were rare; many of these are now considered steps toward feminism. Examples include Sophie Tucker's self-explanatory "I Ain't Taking Orders From No One" (1920s), "No More" recorded in 1944 by Billie Holiday,[6] and 1965's "Ain't No Use" by Nina Simone—the latter two about a woman leaving her man after suffering too many abuses.[7] Shocking in its day, the 1963 song "You Don't Own Me" by Lesley Gore describes the singer standing up to her controlling boyfriend.[6] In 2015, singer Saygrace took Gore's song to No. 1 in Australia with a version featuring rapper G-Eazy.[8]

Women around the world have used songs to unite in feminism and to organize for women's rights. Mexican singer Vivir Quintana is known for her song "Canción sin miedo" (Song Without Fear) which in 2020 became an anthem to fight violence against women.[9] In the Philippines, the 1981 song "Babae Ka" (You Are Woman) was covered by activist Susan Fernandez and also by the duo Inang Laya in the early 1980s as a protest against the reactionary patriarchal policies of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.[10] In Chile starting in 2019, the song "Un violador en tu camino" (A Rapist in Your Path) by the collective Las Tesis has been performed by masses of women who sing and dance to protest police violence. This form of protest has spread to other countries.[11]

Songs[edit]

Year Artist Song Album Notes
1884 C. C. Harrah "The Equal-Rights Banner" An American anthem for women's voting rights, the lyrics were written by Reverend C. C. Harrah, sung to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner". The second verse mentions the evil of "License", referring to alcohol abuse by men, a central issue for women in the Temperance movement.[1]
1908 Florence MacAulay "The Women's Marseillaise" The lyrics were written by Florence MacAulay to the tune of the French anthem "La Marseillaise". It was one of the anthems of the British Women's Social and Political Union, and it was also sung in other countries.[12]
1910 Cicely Hamilton "The March of the Women" With words by Cicely Hamilton and music by Ethel Smyth, the song was the official anthem of British women fighting for voting rights, and was also sung worldwide.
1967 Aretha Franklin "Respect" I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You Written by Otis Redding and released by him in 1965, the song was changed by Franklin to suit a woman's viewpoint.[4][13]
1971 Helen Reddy "I Am Woman" I Don't Know How to Love Him The song was not a chart hit until it was remade in 1972 and released as a single. The hit version was included in the album I Am Woman released later that year.[14][2]
1972 Yoko Ono "Sisters, O Sisters" Some Time in New York City Accompanied by her husband John Lennon and the band Elephant's Memory, Ono encourages women to join and make the world a better place.[15]
1977 Margie Adam "We Shall Go Forth" Margie Adam Adam sang the song at the 1977 National Women's Conference in Houston, and it became a feminist as well as a gay anthem promoting LGBT rights in the United States.[16]
1980 Dolly Parton "9 to 5" 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs Created for the playful-but-anti-patriarchal comedy film 9 to 5, the song was picked up as an anthem for women working in the office.[7]
1980s Naomi Littlebear Morena "You Can't Kill the Spirit" Sung by thousands at the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp in the 1980s.[17]
1983 Cyndi Lauper "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" She's So Unusual Described as a feminist anthem for its perky assertion of feminine solidarity.[18]
1985 Eurythmics "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" Be Yourself Tonight Featuring Aretha Franklin, the song also appearing on her album Who's Zoomin' Who?.[13]
1989 Queen Latifah "Ladies First" All Hail the Queen Featuring Monie Love.[19]
1989 Tears for Fears "Woman in Chains" The Seeds of Love Featuring Oleta Adams.[20]
1992 Mary Chapin Carpenter "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" Come On Come On A country music song in which an unappreciated wife leaves her husband of 15 years to join the workforce.[13]
1993 Bikini Kill "Rebel Girl" Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Produced by Joan Jett who also plays guitar, the song celebrates the sisterhood of punk. It is a leading example of the 1990s riot grrrl feminist movement.[13][7]
1993 Queen Latifah "U.N.I.T.Y." Black Reign A hip hop song that confronts violence against women, it provided Queen Latifah with her biggest chart hit and a Grammy Award.[13][7]
1995 No Doubt "Just a Girl" Tragic Kingdom No Doubt's frontwoman Gwen Stefani rails against the assumption that women are submissive to men.[13]
1998 Rachael Sage "Sistersong" Smashing the Serene Sage wrote "Sistersong" as a tribute to women's independence, honoring Ani DiFranco who established her own record label. In 2018, Sage reworked the song and released it in acoustic form as "Sistersong 2018" for the #MeToo movement, with proceeds benefiting Girls, Inc.[21][22]
1999 Le Tigre "Hot Topic" Le Tigre Riot grrrl band Le Tigre honors feminist heroes such as Yoko Ono, Joan Jett, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin.[13]
2001 Paulina Rubio "Yo No Soy Esa Mujer" Paulina "Yo No Soy Esa Mujer" (I Am Not That Woman) shows the singer telling her man that she will not be subservient.[23]
2003 Christina Aguilera "Can't Hold Us Down" Stripped Featuring Lil' Kim.[24][25]
2005 Robyn "Handle Me" Robyn [26]
2007 Annie Lennox "Sing" Songs of Mass Destruction "Sing" is a charity single that features 19 other women singing, including Madonna, Faith Hill, k. d. lang, Dido and more. Proceeds benefited Treatment Action Campaign.[27]
2008 Beyoncé "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" I Am... Sasha Fierce "Single Ladies" brings women together to celebrate independence.[28][29]
2011 Beyoncé "Run the World (Girls)" 4 "Run the World (Girls)" encourages female empowerment.[30]
2012 Marina Diamandis "Sex Yeah" Electra Heart A track about societal gender roles assigned at birth, described as a "feminist statement".[31]
2013 Lily Allen "Hard out Here" Sheezus "Hard out Here" received critical acclaim upon release. Rolling Stone praised the song calling it a "feminist anthem through and through" and praised the subjects in which Allen tackles including "tired gender roles and expectations to double standards regarding sex and appearance for men and women".[32]
2015 Marina Diamandis "Can't Pin Me Down" Froot “Can’t Pin Me Down” provides a candid and direct callout of misconceptions surrounding feminism and the actions of women.[33]
2015 Downtown Boys "Monstro" Full Communism Downtown Boys are a "sax punk" band from Rhode Island, with several women members. Spin magazine described the band's lead single "Monstro" as a "thrashing feminist anthem".[34]
2015 Speedy Ortiz "Raising the Skate" Foil Deer Described by Flavorwire as a feminist anthem, the singer faces her male opposition to "prove 'em wrong".[35]
2017 Milck "Quiet" The song "Quiet" was performed by Milck and 26 singers for the 2017 Women's March. Uploaded videos went viral.[7][36][37]
2017 Zolita "Fight Like a Girl" Sappho i-D magazine wrote that the contemporary R&B song "Fight Like a Girl" is "a bewitching feminist power anthem championing equal rights and diversity."[38]
2017 Rachel Platten "Broken Glass" Waves Idolator wrote that the song is "an uplifting feminist anthem".[39]
2017 Mona Haydar "Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab)" "Hijabi" was a viral video in 2017, Haydar's first international hit song. Billboard magazine named it one of the “Top 25 Feminist Anthems."[40]
2018 Kesha "Woman" Rainbow The funk/pop song "Woman" emphatically asserts the singer's self-sufficiency and independence. Parade listed it as one of Kesha's "empowering feminist anthems".[41]
2018 Christina Aguilera "Fall in Line" Liberation Featuring Demi Lovato.[42]
2018 Ariana Grande "God Is a Woman" Sweetener This anthemic fusion of hip hop and pop ends with a gospel-inflected swell. The song's video shows the singer embracing her feminine power, rejecting the insults of small-minded men, and allowing her womanly divinity to shine out.[7]
2018 Lynzy Lab "A Scary Time" Hollywood Reporter classified this viral video as a feminist anthem, the singer protesting against comments made by Donald Trump related to the media attention surrounding Brett Kavanaugh's sexual attack of Christine Blasey Ford.[43]
2018 BoA "Woman" Woman The Korean language song "Woman" was described by Rolling Stone India as a K-pop feminist anthem promoting women's self-sufficiency and diversity.[44]
2018 Meg Mac "Give Me My Name Back" Hope Australian singer-songwriter Meg Mac broadens the scope of this anthem to include women's rights, the rights of indigenous Australians, civil rights for the LGBT community, and reparations for those who suffered Catholic Church sexual abuse as children.[45][46]
2018 Little Mix "Joan of Arc" LM5 Idolator wrote that this upbeat dance number was a "fiercely feminist anthem".[47]
2018 Sara Bareilles "Armor" Amidst the Chaos Bareilles wrote and released "Armor" as part of the #MeToo movement.[48]
2019 Avril Lavigne "Dumb Blonde" Head Above Water Featuring Nicki Minaj.[49]
2019 Las Tesis "A Rapist in Your Path" Chilean protest song and performance piece to protest police violence against women.[11]
2019 Tamara Todevska "Proud" Todevska performed the song at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019, representing North Macedonia. The song celebrates womanhood and feminism, but is also intended for any downtrodden person striving for equality.[50]
2020 Vivir Quintana "Canción sin miedo" Commissioned by Chilean singer Mon Laferte to perform at a women's equality festival in Mexico City, Quintana's recording of the song "Canción sin miedo" (Song Without Fear) went viral on WhatsApp prior to the festival.[9]
2020 Ava Max "Kings & Queens" Heaven & Hell Max sings to the power of women, requiring equality with men.[51]
2021 Loud Women "Reclaim These Streets" A charity single written by Cassie Fox with additional lyrics performed by Brix Smith, featuring 60 British women singing, including Siobhan Fahey, Debbie Googe, Charley Stone, Debbie Smith, Laura Kidd and many more. Loud Women, a non-profit organization, released the song as part of protests against the death of Sarah Everard.
2021 Samanta Tīna "The Moon Is Rising" Tīna performed the song for the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, representing Latvia. The song describes women taking control of their lives.[52]
2021 Yola "Stand for Myself" Stand for Myself Consequence called the song "a Black feminist anthem".[53]
2021 Emmy Meli "I Am Woman" Filled with self-affirmations, the song went viral on TikTok in October 2021, inspiring many more cover versions.[54]
2022 St. Vincent "The Melting of the Sun" Daddy's Home Rolling Stone wrote that in "The Melting of the Sun" Anne Clark muses on women who have been crushed or otherwise mistreated by the entertainment industry, as she explains it is "a love letter to strong, brilliant female artists."[55]
2022 Florence and the Machine "King" Dance Fever Grazia magazine wrote that "King" is 2022's feminist anthem. The singer reflects on the contradictions of womanhood.[56]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  5. ^ "How Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' became an anthem for civil rights and feminist". Washington Post. August 14, 2018.
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  56. ^ Clark, Rebekah (March 2022). "Florence And The Machine's New Single 'King' Is The Feminist Anthem Of 2022". Grazia. Retrieved April 12, 2022.