The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Tuesday Morning Inspiration: Lesley Gore

Posted by Clem Bastow on September 30, 2008

Here’s a tentative new feature, a feminist rev-up on the notoriously dour “suicide Tuesday” (nine out of ten scientists agree this is a far more serious condition than Mondayitis). Sometimes all it takes is a kickass song to send you on your merry way and psyche you up for the day ahead, so let’s begin with one of my favourite accidental songs of empowerment, Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me, performed live by the awesome Ms. Gore on ’60s television:

The song’s writers, John Madara and David White, had an inkling that it would be a groundbreaking song (particularly when you consider the sexual politics of 1963), but had no idea it would be embraced as widely as it has been. Said Madara:

Our original intent was to write a song with a woman telling a man off: ‘Don’t tell me what to do, don’t tell me what to say.’ Though we didn’t realize it at the time that it would become a woman’s anthem, it definitely was our intention to have a woman make a statement.

Salon.com’s Stephanie Zacharek wrote a great piece, It’s Still Her Party, back in 1999 about Lesley Gore’s back catalogue and the enduring legacy of songs like You Don’t Own Me and It’s My Party, which I highly recommend as coffee break reading. I would love for Miley Cyrus or someone similar to release a cover of You Don’t Own Me and remind this new generation of girls that it’s okay to assert your identity separately from that of the hot dude you hope to snare.

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