Playlist: Feminist Anthems

Furious with the patriarchy, or just having a boring day.

What would Feminism Month be without a playlist dedicated to woman power? The staff was asked to pony up our favorite feminist anthems for this week’s playlist, and as you can imagine there was little hesitation on our part (except for maybe me, who is embarrassed to admit I spent entirely too much time as a teenager clad in pink pleather pants and dancing to early Britney Spears songs with the rest of my cheerleader friends). The result of our enthusiasm pays tribute to the diverse personalities behind the scenes here at APW (and the pretty obvious generational gap between those of us who grew up with Ani DiFranco as a feminist hero and those of us who sang along to Genie In A Bottle un-ironically.) May these songs fuel the fire when you’re particularly furious with the patriarchy, or just having a boring day at work.

  • “Face Up and Sing” by Ani DiFranco
  • “Independent Woman” by Destiny’s Child
  • “Repect” by Aretha Franklin
  • “Not Ready to Make Nice” by The Dixie Chicks
  • “I Am Not My Hair” by India.Arie
  • “None Of Your Business” by Salt-N-Pepa
  • “Run the World” by Beyonce
  • “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Just A Girl” by No Doubt
  • “Nothing to Prove” by The Doubleclicks
  • “Do It Like A Dude” Jessie J
  • “These Boots Were Made For Walkin” by Nancy Sinatra
  • “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore (First Wives Club Version)
  • “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
  • “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett
  • “Let’s Talk About Sex” by Salt-N-Pepa
  • “Little Plastic Castle” by Ani DiFranco
  • Photo: Corey Torpie

    Featured Sponsored Content

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single


      My dance around feminist anthem that flashes me back to high school in One Girl Revolution by Superchick. And the sequel (do songs have sequels?) One and Lonely.

    • M.

      I have to cast my vote for “Man” by Neko Case!

      • I am obsessed with this song. I like to listen to it right after I listen to Maneater, from her last album.

        • M.

          I am too, so obsessed. She played it at Radio City a few weeks ago and I thought the building would fall down. So LOUD, so good.

          “People Got A Lotta Nerve” (the man-eater song) is also rad, because Neko is rad. I’ve never thought of it as feminist before, which is an interesting twist to think about! Sort of a, “Take that!” I’ve only ever listened in the context of Animals/Humans..she gave a great interview somewhere saying (as I remember) that she wrote it when one of her band members wanted an avenging song for animals in response to “The Tigers Have Spoken” which is her Saddest Song about tigers in captivity. She’s also this months BUST Magazine coverlady. /fangirl

    • Love this list.

      Throwing in my own personal addition of “Wings” by Little Mix. I pretty much stop whatever I’m doing and belt it out whenever it comes on in my vicinity.

    • Emily H

      I wake up every day to “Video” by India.Arie. I love her!

    • LBD

      What? No “The Pill” by Loretta Lynn?

      If your tastes tend a little twangy, I highly recommend Bitch’s feminist country music playlist from a few months back:

      I just stick that thing on every now and again and feel all awesome.

    • I would just like to say that I grew up with Ani DiFranco as a feminist hero AND I still like to sing along un-ironically to “Genie in a Bottle.” Okay, maybe a little ironically.

      Also. Six words: Pat Benatar. Love is a Battlefield.

      • M.

        Same here, with no irony! My mom played a ton of Ani while I was growing up, and I never knew it Feminist Music, just folky music that I liked, but how rad of my mom! Still know all the words to most songs on Out of Range, as they now play through my head. And I just remembered that the instrumentals from “Deep Dish” off of Little Plastic Castle were my floor exercise music in high school gymnastics in 2003??? Memory blast! Ha! Amazing.

    • alpelican

      “Poster of a Girl” by Metric.

      • I LOVE Metric!

        • alpelican

          Yes! Although now that I think about it, “Patriarch on a Vespa” is probably the most feminist anthem they’ve done. Emily Haines is the best

          • julia Canuck

            I was just going to suggest “Patriarch on a Vespa,” but you beat me to it! So good to sing along to at the top of your lungs when you need to raise your spirits up.

            • Julia Canuck

              Oh, and “Glass Ceiling” from the same album.

    • Susie

      “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”! Ms. Lauper

    • Laura C

      Kasey Chambers, “Little Bird”:

      “If I keep my opinion under my breath
      And I only bring it out when the master says
      You might come back

      But I don’t want you that bad”

    • Maddie, there is no such thing as spending too much time in pink pleather pants. Take it from the girl whose pleather pants were black (my pink ones were brushed velvet)– I definitely need MORE time in pink pleather pants NOW.

      • Cosign, and also, dancing along to early Britney Spears is nothing to be ashamed of. Says a person who might have done this at her wedding reception.

        • I was just at one of my best friend’s wedding reception, and she had the DJ play a special song for us: “Toxic.” (Which is not at all a feminist anthem.) But we danced like maniacs, and it was so much fun!

    • 1990s Liz Phair. Exile in Guyville, the whole album, is a sexy feminist manifesto. Amanda Palmer/The Dresden Dolls are also pretty great (sample song: Girl Anachronism).

    • Jen

      I love pretty much all of these songs, and I also feel like this list really needs some Sleater-Kinney. A little “Ballad of a Ladyman” maybe?

      Sleater-Kinney has been my feminist jam for years now, and I feel like my 20s would have been much rougher without them.

    • SarahG

      THIS. Today I’ve been dealing with reporting a frat house rape of a student to the police and having a LOT of feminist rage (I would like to think of it as “human empathy rage” but unfortunately the amount of rape apologists out there makes me think it’s feminist rage, since other people? Blaming. The. Victim.). This has included quoting Ani under my breath (“I don’t think I can roll with it this time”). Now I need some Salt N Pepa to make me feel empowered-angry, and also to remind me of my high school prom, which was made 10k times more awesome by Ms. Salt and Ms. Pepa.

    • Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl”

      Or, seriously, anything by Kathleen Hanna.

      • kissyboots

        And where’s the Le Tigre?

    • Annabelle

      Madonna must be on this list, specifically Express Yourself and What it Feels Like for a Girl.

    • I feel like this whole playlist could be Ani DiFranco! “Out of Range”, anyone? “God’s Country”?

      I feel like “The Pill” (Loretta Lynn) should be on there. I feel like it needs a little TLC too, but I’m not sure which song. My first thought was “No Scrubs” but that’s women turning the lens towards men, not women turning the lens on themselves.

      • Emily H

        Re: TLC, “Unpretty” is really good.

    • RJ

      Fantastic playlist! Here’s what I would add:

      Alanis Morissette’s So Unsexy (or many other songs of hers), anything by Dead Sara, Florence and the Machines’ Kiss With a Fist, and, of course, while we’re talking about Britney… why isn’t “Stronger” on this list?

    • RJ

      Also, this song! Juliet’s First Hardcore Song!

    • I’m having some serious flashbacks from all the Ani.

      A few favorites not on this list:
      Garbage’s Supervixen
      Queen Latifah’s Ladies First
      Cyndi Lauper’s Girls just wanna have fun

      On the country-ish side, I love Janis Ian’s “Play Like a Girl” (the entire God and the FBI album is brilliant), the Indigo Girls’ “Go” (and half their catalog, let’s face it.)

      Imogen Heap’s Getting Scared is one of my go to “fighting back” energy songs.

      And yeah, I’ll still pull out Helen Reddy’s I am Woman on appropriate occasions.

    • Charity

      Fiona Apple! “Shadowboxer” and “Sleep to Dream” on her first album and “Extraordinary Machine”. I think her entire body of work is feminist, even though they aren’t always obviously so. She never shies away from writing about complex feelings and complicated, even contradictory desires.

      • meg

        <3 Fiona Apple. I'm exactly the right age, of course. Also: apparently I looked like her in High School, since I heard it every other second of the day. I've put on weight since then, thankfully for my health ;)

    • Sarah McD

      SO, so much of Halestorm’s music. Lzzy Hale (intentionally spelled that way) is the lead singer and she’s a hard rock singer WHO SINGS FROM A FEMALE FIRST PERSON VIEW. So she talks about men, and relationships, and being a badass rocker woman. I love hard rock but despite the increasing number of female vocalists, it seems like they’re always so careful to sing gender-neutral songs so their music can appeal to men too. Lzzy gives me a FEMALE voice – “Mz Hyde”, “Daughters of Darkness”, “Rockshow”, etc. She’s unabashedly sexy and proud of her femininity and doesn’t have to make excuses for those things to be a “real” rock musician.

      • Sarah McD

        Did I mention that she’s not in an all-girl band like Kittie, but the rest of her band mates are men?

    • Also, lest we forget: Lady Gaga, “Born This Way”

    • kissyboots

      I always thought Martina McBride – This One’s For The Girls was pretty empowering. Not one of the typical choices to be sure, but there are some country songs out there that fit the bill!

    • meg

      Clearly we need a second playlist one of these days.

    • Karyn

      I made a copy of this playlist on Rdio for anybody who uses it and would like to listen to it there. It’s public and can be found at:

      I may also make a playlist of the songs in the comments if I get an opportunity.