Ultimate Female Empowerment Playlist Through the Decades

Female empowerment isn’t anything new. Women have been standing strong through the ages, and we have proof in song. Today we have plenty of pro-female music by plenty of female artists—Katy Perry, Beyonce, and Elle King, to name a few. But back in the day, we grew up being inspired by the women who dared to perform, and often write—some of the greatest female go-to songs ever! The following is a compilation of inspiring, encouraging pieces—for women and by women—from the 1960s through the 1990s. 

1960s

You Don’t Own Me” by Leslie Gore

This tune was totally ahead of its time, with the lyrics, “Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t tell me what to say. And, please, when I go out with you, don’t put me on display.” It was later covered by Joan Jett on her first solo album, “Bad Reputation.”

Different Drum” by The Stone Poneys 

Though it was written by Michael Nesmith, it was Linda Ronstadt who sang it from a female’s perspective—a heartfelt track about not wanting to be tied down. 

Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley

You have to applaud Mrs. Johnson, the song’s subject, who exposes the hypocrites of Harper Valley. 

These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra

The lyrics are obvious on this one, sung rough and tough by Nancy Sinatra. This lady isn’t taking crap from that man—or any man! 

Respect” by Aretha Franklin

A strong woman with confidence who knows what she wants and is demanding respect from her man. This feminist groundbreaker awarded Franklin two Grammys in 1968. 

1970s

I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy

This one was not only a number one hit on the charts in 1972, but it became the anthem for the women’s liberation movement. It was later featured in the Sex and The City 2 movie.

The Pill” by Loretta Lynn

During her career, Loretta Lynn had several songs banned from the radio. “The Pill” caused the biggest stir of them all. It celebrated birth control and the freedom it offered to married women who didn’t fancy or couldn’t afford another baby. 

The Wild One” by Suzi Quatro

This hot track was truly for all the gals who knew exactly what they wanted and weren’t going to let anyone stop them from getting it! 

Oh Bondage! Up Yours!” by X-Ray Spex 

Sung by 16-year-old Poly Styrene, it’s one she wrote to illustrate that everyone was in a type of bondage to modern materialistic society. 

I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan

A powerful number honoring the resilience of women. 

1980s 

“Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett

Her solo debut proved Joan Jett was and still is, so badass. What rebel chick couldn’t relate to “Bad Reputation”? 

I’m Coming Out” by Dianna Ross

 

Not only was this one about being true to oneself and embracing independence, but it was also rumored to be about Diana Ross’s break from Motown Records, and Berry Gordy, with who she had an on-again/off-again romance for years. 

“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper

This was the 1980s celebration tune for all women! Whether it was simply a soundtrack to your weekend or something deeper like a break-up, Cyndi Lauper had us all dancing along.

She Bop” by Cyndi Lauper

A bold dance number about female masturbation. What fun! 

Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna

Teen pregnancy was still a taboo topic in the 1980s, and a girl is going to her father for support. 

1990s 

Hold On” By Wilson

Phillips

A beautiful track about not giving up. 

You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette

A pissed-off woman who has had enough got ladies groovin’ in the ’90s. 

Let’s Talk About Sex” by Salt-N-Pepa

Talking about sex. Everything sex. Safe sex. Positive aspects of sex. Negative sides of sex. And censorship in the media. 

Just a Girl” by No Doubt

The sarcastic feminist anthem of the 1990s! Totally rocking and hyper-cool. 

Laying on a Bed of Roses” by The Muffs

Nothing says female power more than wanting to connect with your partner. In my research, I found no official interpretation for these lyrics, but my take is that she’s badass enough to treat her guy like crap but is more fun laying on a bed of roses. Aren’t we all? 

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