Lately, I've found that I've been relying on the power of Beyoncé even more than usual. I've always loved Beyoncé — I discovered Destiny's Child as a middle schooler, and I've been dancing in my room alone to her empowering anthems ever since. But after President Trump's inauguration, I started feeling a need to get in formation, if you will, and dance to feminist anthems with other women.
Despite feeling terrified by the idea, I decided to join my local dance studio, Heartbeat House, where the emphasis is on sweating, feeling empowered, getting down, and not having to remember much in the way of steps. There, I've danced to a whole bunch of songs that have made a Trump era seem a little less scary. In dancing with other women to newer feminist anthems like "Run The World (Girls)," I found a sense of empowerment that is very much of the school of Faking It Until You Make It. No, girls don't run the world — or country — at the moment. But the assertion that it is true anyway allows me to imagine, for a brief few minutes, that the world is a different place.
Below, here are 23 feminist anthems I suggest dancing/having a good cry to this Women's History Month and beyond, throughout the Trump era. (I made a Spotify playlist here, in case you want to take it with you!)
"Grown Woman" — Beyoncé
Most Feminist Lyrics: "I’m a grown woman/ I can do whatever I want/I’m a grown woman/ I can do whatever I want/ I can be bad if I want / I can do wrong if I want/ I can live fast if I want/I can go slow all night long/I’m a grown woman/I can do whatever I want"
To me, this is by far the most underrated song on Beyoncé's self-titled album. The chorus's refrain, "I'm a grown woman/I can do whatever I want" has basically become my anthem, a reminder of my right to bodily autonomy and power in the Trump years and beyond. It's also an amazing song to dance alone to in your room — especially if you try to learn some of the video's moves. For some reason, this is the one track I can't find on Spotify, so there's a slightly less satisfying cover on the playlist.
"Pussy Grabs Back" — Kim Boekbinder
Most Feminist Lyrics: "Lord, give me the confidence of a mediocre white man/ Pussy Pussy Pussy Pussy Pussy Pussy Pussy/Pussy grabs back"
Although it's dated pre-election, this response to Pussygate is sadly still relevant — and a rallying cry that's catchy as hell and reminds us that we have the right to take the word "pussy" back. (Get it stuck in your head at your own risk.)
"I Am Woman" — Betty Wright
Most Feminist Lyrics: "I am woman, hear me roar/ In numbers too big to ignore/And I know too much to go back an' pretend/ Cause I've heard it all before/And I've been down there on the floor/No one's ever gonna keep me down again"
"I Am Woman" by Helen Reddy is the OG feminist anthem of the Women's Liberation Movement. As great as the 1971 classic is, I like this cover by Betty Wright even better for some added soul.
"Bad Girls" — M.I.A.
Most Feminist Lyrics: "When I get to where I'm going, gonna have you trembling"
It's not even so much the lyrics that make this a feminist anthem (though M.I.A.'s work has consistently contained an element of feminist social critique) — it's the killer beat that makes you feel like a total badass. When you're feeling weak, I highly suggest blasting this at full volume, preferably while wearing a chain and hitting your dashboard.
"Feeling Myself" — Nicki Minaj & Beyoncé
Most Feminist Lyrics: "I'm feelin' myself, I'm feelin' myself"
As I've written before, I believe masturbation can be a feminist act. Taken even more broadly, this ode to self-love is a danceable reminder to love and get down with your bad self.
"Talkin' Bout a Revolution" — Tracy Chapman
Most Feminist Lyrics: "Sitting around waiting for a promotion/Don't you know/They're talkin' 'bout a revolution"
There are so many feminist Tracy Chapman songs to choose from, it's tough to pick one — but this track, which is more broadly about revolution, is one of the most apt for a Trump era. Use it when you need inspiration to keep fighting.
"Cactus Tree" — Joni Mitchell
Most Feminist Lyrics: "She has brought them to her senses/They have laughed inside her laughter/Now she rallies her defenses/For she fears that one will ask her/For eternity/And she's so busy being free"
This slow tune is great for pensively staring out a window or traveling solo. It will remind you that lovers may come and go, but no one can own you, your body, or your spirit.
"You Don't Own Me" — Leslie Gore
Most Feminist Lyrics: "Don't tell me what to do/And don't tell me what to say/Please, when I go out with you/Don't put me on display"
This feminist classic by Leslie Gore came out in 1963 — but the message, especially as it relates to our reproductive rights under a Trump administration, is just as relevant as ever. I suggest watching the First Wives Club scene above for some dance inspiration.
"Run The World (Girls)" — Beyoncé
Most Feminist Lyrics: "How we're smart enough to make these millions/Strong enough to bear the children/Then get back to business/See, you better not play me/Don't come here, baby/ Hope you still like me/F U Pay Me"
To be honest, before Trump got elected, I sort of resisted this song. I felt like it was too optimistic and naive — as much as I'd like to believe it, girls don't run the world. Now that I've danced repeatedly to this with other women in my dance class, however, I get it: this is an anthem that states what should be true so that it one day might be. Dancing to it with other women gives me chills.
"Sisters Are Doing For Themselves" — Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin
Most Feminist Lyrics: "Now this is a song to celebrate/The conscious liberation of the female state!/Mothers, daughters and their daughters too/Woman to woman/We're singin' with you"
Another classic feminist anthem, this track is great for getting your '80s dance party on.
"I Did It All" — Tracy Chapman
Most Feminist Lyrics: "When they come to interview me/For my made-for-TV movie/Say I'm the bitch who was a bastard/Who did it all for the love and laughter/I did it allI did it allI did it all"
There's always room for one more Tracy Chapman song! I love this one; it's about a woman who has no regrets because she did everything she wanted, without giving a shit what anyone else thought about it. "I'm the bitch who was a bastard" should be a t-shirt.
"Bitch" — Meredith Brooks
Most Feminist Lyrics: "I'm a bitch, I'm a lover/I'm a child, I'm a mother/I'm a sinner, I'm a saint/I do not feel ashamed"
I highly suggest driving to this with all the windows down and your hair blowing in the wind. It's a reminder that we are allowed to be complex and at times "difficult" — and that the right kind of man won't be intimidated by that. (Read: not Trump.)
"Video" — India Arie
Most Feminist Lyrics: Sometimes I shave my legs and sometimes I don't/Sometimes I comb my hair and sometimes I won't/Depend of how the wind blows I might even paint my toes/It really just depends on whatever feels good in my soul"
India Arie was way ahead of the times in this 2001 song, digging into ideas about self-love, body positivity and choice that wouldn't become part of mainstream feminism for years. Next time you hear Trump say something offensive about women, listen to this as the antidote.
"Flawless" — Beyoncé
Most Feminist Lyrics: "We raise girls to each other as competitors/Not for jobs or for accomplishments/Which I think can be a good thing/But for the attention of men/We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings/In the way that boys are/Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes"
This song isn't feminist just because it excerpts Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "We Should All Be Feminists" — though that definitely takes it to the next level! Remind yourself you're flawless by dancing to this in front of the mirror naked until you believe it.
"U.N.I.T.Y" — Queen Latifah
Most Feminist Lyrics: "Every time I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a ho/Trying to make a sister feel low/ You know all of that gots to go"
If you don't remember this 1993 song, listen to it now. Its feminist message, which deals with everything from self-image to catcalling, feels as relevant as the day it was released.
"Bossy" — Kelis
Most Feminist Lyrics: "You know, it's a hard pill to swallow/When they tell you you strange/You ain't hot/Then in the blink of an eye/They got on what you got/That means I'm a boss!"
When Trump called Hillary Clinton "nasty," we reclaimed that word. But an even more common female putdown — bossy — is also important to embrace. Or, if you prefer, I'm not bossy, I'm the boss.
"The March Of Women" — The Suffragette Movement
Most Feminist Lyrics: "Cry with the wind, for the dawn is breaking/March, march, swing you along/Wide blows our banner, and hope is waking"
So maybe it's not the most danceable song on the list, but this anthem from the Suffragette Era will inspire you to keep fighting and marching.
"Nine To Five" — Dolly Parton
Most Feminist Lyrics: "They just use your mind and they never give you credit/It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it/9 to 5, for service and devotion/You would think that I would deserve a fat promotion/Want to move ahead but the boss won't seem to let me"
The classic 1980 movie 9 to 5 is all about women in the workplace, and while we've come a long way in the decades since it was made, the issues the film and its theme song explore — including the glass ceiling, sexual harassment, and gender pay gap — certainly persist. Listen to this when you're on your way to work and are already feeling overwhelmed by your newsfeed and demanding boss.
"The Pill" — Loretta Lynn
Most Feminist Lyrics: "Won't take up so much yardage/Miniskirts, hot pants and a few little fancy frills/Yeah I'm makin' up for all those years/Since I've got the pill"
This song was so controversial when it came out in 1975 that it was banned from many radio stations. It dealt frankly with the effect of The Pill on women's lives — and is (sadly) still an important argument that needs to be made today for why access to birth control is so important for our freedom.
"Aint Nuthin' But a She Thing" — Salt-N-Peppa
Most Feminist Lyrics: "Go to work and get paid less than a man/When I'm doin' the same damn thing that he can/When I'm aggressive then I'm a bitch/When I got attitude you call me a witch/Treat me like a sex-object (That ain't smooth)/Underestimate the mind, oh yeah, you're a fool/Weaker sex, yeah, right, that's the joke (ha!)/Have you ever been in labor? I don't think so, nope"
Basically, this entire 1995 song is an explicitly feminist anthem — listen to this when you need a healthy dose of kickass empowerment, Salt-N-Peppa-style.
"Rebel Girl" — Bikini Kill
Most Feminist Lyrics: "When she talks, I hear the revolution/In her hips, there's revolutions/When she walks, the revolution's coming/In her kiss, I taste the revolution!"
"Respect" — Aretha Franklin
Most Feminist Lyrics: "R-E-S-P-E-C-T/Find out what it means to me/R-E-S-P-E-C-T"
In a world where we have a Degrader-in-Chief, this song can be your reminder to yourself that you deserve nothing less than R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
"Can't Hold Us Down" — Christina Aguilera
Most Feminist Lyrics: "So what am I not supposed to have an opinion/Should I keep quiet just because I'm a woman/Call me a bitch cause I speak what's on my mind/Guess it's easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled"
This song is a good reminder that no matter what the Trump era tries to do to us, women can't be held down for long.