25 Empowering Songs To Rock Out To During Women's History Month
"Inside every woman is the capacity to be delicate and powerful all at once."
March is Women's History Month, and we're coming in like a lion with this roundup of songs that empower women. From classics to new tunes, you'll want to crank these up with your mothers, your daughters, and your sisters. No boys allowed!
1. “Ain’t Got No - I Got Life” by Nina Simone
The song of the woman of color, the song of every woman, this timeless classic is about loving yourself. "I got my hair on my head / I got my brains, I got my ears / I got my eyes, I got my nose / I got my mouth, I got my smile," Simone sings. “Got life, I got my life."
2. “Not a Pretty Girl” by Ani DiFranco
DiFranco shatters all the social constructs around being a woman in this poignant song.
“I ain’t no damsel in distress,” she sings. “I want to be more than a pretty girl.” DiFranco’s entire catalogue is a celebration of the feminine spirit, with other notable songs like “Oragami” and “Amendment” that have become anthems of female strength and independence.
3. “Nine to Five” by Dolly Parton
This song is about the struggle of the modern working woman. The 1980s movie of the same name is all about fighting the man, and so is the song.
4. “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks
Friendship and true love conquer all in this humorous and cautionary tale. It’s such a bright and funny song, but one that has given so many women courage over the years.
5. “Free Your Mind” by En Vogue
This song is about owning your body and your personality, telling the world you're more than your appearance. “Free your mind, and the rest will follow / be colorblind, don’t be so shallow” are lyrics that resonate throughout the world, no matter your gender or the color of your skin.
6. “That’s Alright” by Laura Mvula, from Sing to the Moon
A fantastic song for anyone who is feeling down, or self conscious, or for anyone who has been put down. "That's Alright" is all about loving yourself. It's a song written by a strong black women to give black women strength. “I will never be what you want and that’s all right / ‘cause my skin ain’t light, and my body ain’t tight," Mvula sings. "And that's alright / But if I might, I must stand and fight."
7. “Hard Out Here” by Lily Allen from “Sheezus”
Lily Allen's "Hard Out There," off her album Sheezus, discusses double standards and breaking the glass ceiling. The music video starts out with men trying to control her life, and goes on to call out the ridiculous extent of the objectification of women in the music industry. As Allen says, "It's hard out here for a bitch."
8. “Woman Up” by Charlene Kaye feat. Kalae Nouveau
This song is a beautiful example of turning pain and struggle into something awesome. It's about finding yourself and thinking of yourself as being complete without a man -- the perfect post-breakup song to make you feel whole again. “A man is not completion, he’s addition."
9. “Bad Girls” by MIA
A fun anthem for every girl and her crew, it's impossible not to feel badass when you listen to this. This song's music video has imagery of Middle Eastern and Saudi cultures, making a statement against the world that tries to stifle women’s rights, while also turning the rap video right on its head and glorifying the woman and her sisters rather than the man and his brothers.
10. “You Don't Own Me” - Lesley Gore
If you've ever seen "First Wives Club," you'll remember this as the best part, when all the main characters come together after successfully screwing over their cheating, selfish husbands. But this song, which came out originally in the 1960s, goes beyond that movie and into the fabric of culture itself. It set the state for feminist songs for decades to come. “And don’t tell me what to do, don’t tell me what to say," Gore sings, "and please, when I go out with you, don’t put me on display.”
11. “None of Your Business” by Salt N Pepa
“I treat a man like he treats me," this song about independence goes. “Your double standards don’t mean shit to me." The song resonates on multiple levels, about breaking free from controlling influences and also a statement about being in the public eye.
12. “Just A Girl” by No Doubt
“Take this pink ribbon off my eyes,” this feminist jam begins. Gwen Stefani makes a bold statement against what society expects of women. “I’m just a girl," she sings. "I’m just a girl in the world, that’s all that you’ll let me be.” And she speaks for all of us women when she says she's "had it up to here."
13. “The Pill” by Loretta Lynn
You know it's a powerful song when it gets banned from the radio! Lynn decided that her life wasn't going to be defined by having a husband and children. “I’m making up for all those years since I’ve got the pill,” she sings. No wonder the patriarchy didn’t want the song on the radio!
14. “Just One of the Guys” by Jenny Lewis
This hilarious music video starring a mustachioed Kristen Stewart has a deeper meaning than meets the eye. “There’s only one difference between you and me," Lewis sings. "When I look at myself, all I can see, I’m just another lady without a baby.” She’s living her life for herself despite what society may think of her based on our expectations of aging and the female identity.
15. “Good As Hell” by Lizzo
Lizzo is all around amazing; she's the woman you want to be your best friend. This song is one of her best. “If he don’t want you anymore, just walk your fine ass out the door,” she sings. This song is about loving yourself and feeling fabulous. Just try not to smile while listening!
16. “No Scrubs” by TLC
This '90s classic is a song about having standards, being proud of who you are, and never settling for less than you deserve. TLC sings about taking ownership of your desires and drawing the line.
17. “Girl” by CLAVVS
This dreamy single from World Underwater is one of my personal favorites. It's about every woman's battle with being a woman, and finding your inner dragon to unleash upon the world. “Eyes wide open, little girl," Amber Renee sings. "You are a weapon to the world / spit out your magic, and be heard / speak like a dragon, with fire.”
18. “Cherry Bomb” by the Runaways
This song was the signal for a sexual revolution for women. It was a call for rebellion against parents and the patriarchy.
19. “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill
This song underscores the importance of respecting yourself as a woman and demanding respect from men. It's a cautionary tale about a cycle that's been around forever.
20. “Sit Still Look Pretty” by Daya
Daya sings about refusing to fit into the mold of what the music industry expects of her, asserting that she’ll be different because she wants to be. In the music video, a bunch of men analyzing her while she sings about her vision of what her life could be.
21. “Bossy” by Kelis
This music video has Kelis literally walking all over men, and it's amazing. This song is about owning your ambition. It proves chicks can be ballers, too!
22. “Roar” by Katy Perry
Katy Perry's hit song is all about finding your inner voice and letting it roar. When society wants women to sit quietly and be polite, this song reminds us that we are women and inspires us to make ourselves heard.
23. “Fuckin’ Perfect” by Pink
Nobody’s perfect, and this song is an emotional story of the struggle of growing up and hating yourself because you don’t look like what society says you should. The music video is powerful and, frankly, a tear-jerker. It’s a song for daughters everywhere.
24. “Eat Them” by Lady Pills
This anthem against misogyny is one of the more hardcore songs that empower women.
The Lady Pills are here to say they're tired of society’s shit. “I’m sick of stupid men," they sing. "I think I’m going to eat them.”
25. “Extraordinary” by Liz Phair
The lyrics speak for themselves! “I am extraordinary, I am just your ordinary average everyday sane psycho supergoddess."
And you are, too.
Cover photo by Anna Norris