The best feminist anthems, from Sleater-Kinney to Aretha Franklin

A list of empowering feminist anthems, both past and present, to pay ode to female strength and pick you up when the patriarchy gets you down

Beyoncé ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – ‘Flawless’

Queen Bey’s ‘Flawless’ samples Chimamanda’s brilliant TedX talk, We Should All Be Feminists.

Best lyric: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

Mary Chapin Carpenter – ‘He Thinks He’ll Keep Her’

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s 1992 hit describes the liberation of a women breaking free from the traditional nuclear family into the workplace.  

Best lyric: She packs his suitcase, she sits and waits/With no expression upon her face/When she was 36 she met him at their door/She said, “I’m sorry, I don’t love you anymore

Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin – ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves’

A classic ’80s anthem to celebrate the independence of powerful women around the world, and funky as hell too. 

Best lyric: “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./The inferior sex got a new exterior/We got doctors, lawyers, politicians too

Bikini Kill – ‘Rebel Girl’

Featured in one of the most influential music films of the past couple of years, The Punk Singer, the all-female Washington riot grrls sing about revolution, empowerment and solidarity in ‘Rebel Girl’.

Best lyric: When she talks, I hear the revolution/In her hips, there’s revolution/When she walks, the revolution’s coming/In her kiss, I taste the revolution

No Doubt – ‘Just A Girl’

Gwen Stefani rebels against submissive gender stereotypes in No Doubt’s ‘Just A Girl’, which came nine years before her solo breakthrough.

Best lyric: Cause I’m just a girl, little ol’ me/Well don’t let me out of your sight/Oh, 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!

Le Tigre – ‘Hot Topic’ – 

Le Tigre use their song ‘Hot Topic’ as a platform to celebrate some of the most influential females, shouting out the names of individuals such as Yoko Ono, Joan Jett, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin.

Best lyric: So many roads and so much opinion/So much shit to give in, give in to/So many rules and so much opinion/So much bullshit but we won’t give in

Sleater-Kinney – ‘#1 Must Have’

Sleater-Kinney use this anger-fuelled feminist anthem in order to encourage a new feminist revolution by offering a bitter look at the riot grrrl movement.

Best lyrics: Culture is what we make it/Yes it is/Now is the time/To invent

Solange feat. Sampha – ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’

Solange speaks about the black female experience and the importance of self-acceptance in this inspiring, intersectional track ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’.

Best lyrics: Don’t touch my pride/They say the glory’s all mine/Don’t test my mouth/They say the truth is my sound

Aretha Franklin – ‘Respect’

Franklin’s reworking of Otis Redding’s original song is arguably the classic feminist anthem of all time supporting the women’s rights and civil rights movements of the 60s.

Best lyric: Ooo, your kisses/Sweeter than honey/And guess what?/So is my money

Queen Latifah – ‘U.N.I.T.Y’

Queen Latifah provides a series of empowering feminist messages in her 1993 song U.N.I.T.Y, tackling issues such as catcalling, sexual assault and objectifying slurs.

Best lyrics: Every time I hear a brother call a girl a/bitch of a ho/Trying to make a sister feel low/You know all that gots to go

Words: Callie Winch