Today, March 8, marks International Women’s Day, which is dedicated to celebrating Women’s achievements and calling for greater equality. Whenever I think about my experiences growing up in the 1990’s and 2000’s, I feel thankful that I not only had strong female role models in my own life, but also in popular culture. Around the time that I became attune to popular music, the airwaves were flooded with hit after hit addressing female liberation and empowerment. When you grow up singing along to tunes with such strong statements, the message sinks in before you fully realize it. Below are five of my favorite female empowerment jams from my adolescence.
I’m Just a Girl by No Doubt
I’m just a girl in the world, that’s all that you’ll let me be. That pretty much sums it up. While I was a little too young to discover this song when it was released in 1995, I definitely came across it in my junior high and high school years. To this day, it lends a fairly accurate depiction of how we treat women in society.
Stand out lyrics: ‘Cause I’m just a girl, little ‘ol me/ Don’t let me out of your sight/ I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite/ So don’t let me have any rights/ Oh…I’ve had it up to here!
Man! I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain
This song came out in 1997, when I was 8 years old. I still distinctly remember going to the mall with my dad and stopping in FYE to buy this CD. It was one of the first I ever decided to purchase on my own. When I got home, my mom wanted to know where I had found the CD because she had been trying to buy it with no luck. Like mother, like daughter, I guess! The whole album is full of great songs about not settling for just any man (That Don’t Impress Me Much), breaking gender roles (Honey, I’m Home) and female liberation with this song in particular (Man! I Feel Like a Woman).
Stand out lyrics: Go totally crazy, forget I’m a lady/ Men’s shirts, short skirts/ Really go wild yeah, doin’ it in style/ Get in the action, feel the attraction/ Color my hair, do what I dare/ I want to be free yeah, to feel the way I feel/ Man! I feel like a woman!
Independent Women, Pt. I- Destiny’s Child
The ultimate tune about not needing to depend on anyone. I want it? I bought it. What’s more empowering than that? As a pre-teen, I remember singing along to this song and thinking about what it would be like when I would be older and could emulate that in my life.
Stand out lyrics: Try to control me, boy, you get dismissed/ Pay my own fun, oh, and I pay my own bills/ Always 50/50 in relationships/ The shoes on my feet, I’ve bought it/ The clothes I’m wearing, I’ve bought it/ The rock I’m rockin’, I’ve bought it/ ‘Cause I depend on me if I want it
Fighter- Christina Aguilera
This song is the perfect rebound; bounce back; pick yourself up; dust yourself off and get back on the horse anthem. When this song dropped in 2002, it made me feel like I could work through any issue I had, especially because Britney Spears released a parallel song called “Stronger” around the same time.
Stand out lyrics: ‘Cause if it wasn’t for all/ That you tried to do/ I wouldn’t know just how capable I am to pull through/ So I wanna say thank you/ ‘Cause it/ Makes me that much stronger/ Makes me work a little bit harder/ Makes me that much wiser/ So thanks for making me a fighter
Dear Mr. President- P!nk
I remember hearing this song live in 2007 when P!nk toured with Justin Timberlake and getting chills. At a time, I was just truly learning about the American political system and beginning to really form my own opinions on the issues. I saw men constantly talking about the issues on TV and in the news, so to hear a woman strongly voice her own thoughts really impressed itself in my brain.
Stand out lyrics: What kind of father would take his own daughter’s rights away?/ And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?/ I can only imagine what the first lady has to say.
To learn more about International Women’s Day, visit their website at http://www.internationalwomensday.com.