Fuck Yeah, Ladies! - Songs About, By, and For the Sake of Empowering Women

"Asking For It" - Hole [WARNING: RAPE]

“We had just gotten off tour with Mudhoney, and I decided to stage-dive. I was wearing a dress and I didn’t realize what I was engendering in the audience. It was a huge audience and they were kind of going ape-shit. So I just dove off the stage, and suddenly, it was like my dress was being torn off of me, my underwear was being torn off of me, people were putting their fingers inside of me and grabbing my breasts really hard, screaming things in my ears like “pussy-whore-cunt”. When I got back onstage I was naked. I felt like Karen Finley. But the worst thing of all was that I saw a photograph of it later. Someone took a picture of me right when this was happening, and I had this big smile on my face like I was pretending it wasn’t happening. So later I wrote a song called “Asking For It” based on the whole experience. I can’t compare it to rape because it’s not the same. But in a way it was. I was raped by an audience, figuratively, literally, and yet, was I asking for it?”  - Courtney Love


"Babelogue" - Patti Smith

The punk-rock wordsmith goddess, as she's sometimes called, does amazing things with lyrics and poetry. Just because this list would have felt wrong without her, here she is putting her all into a performance of the spoken word.

"Bad Reputation" - Joan Jett

"I figured out it was a social thing, what women were allowed to do. At a very young age, I decided I was not going to follow women's rules." - Joan Jett

As the story goes, Joan Jett was kicked out of the office of every major label record company in the country without being given a chance. 'You're too tough-looking,' they said. 'Lose the guitar,' they said. 'Fuck that,' Joan Jett said. She started her own label, formed her own band, and became a legend.

"Blue Blanket" - Andrea Gibson [WARNING: RAPE]

"She's not asking what you're gonna tell your daughter
She's asking what you're gonna teach your son."
- Andrea Gibson, "Blue Blanket"

"Boadicea" - Enya

"Boudica was queen of the British Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire." - Wikipedia

"Boys Wanna Be Her" - Peaches

"Stand tall
You make them feel so small."
- Peaches, "Boys Wanna Be Her"

"Cherry Bomb" - The Runaways

They were a bunch of teenagers on stage in sometimes little more than lingerie. They were one of the first all-women hard rock bands ever to exist. They were the first stage appearance of Joan Jett. They were wild and sexy and pretty unashamed of it. They were damn good on their instruments.  People spit on them, screamed abuse at them, called them whores. They were, let's face it, pretty badass.

"City Hall" - Vienna Teng

"Oh, oh, oh
Me and my baby drivin' down
To a hilly seaside town in the rainy fog
Oh, oh, oh
Me and and my baby stand in line
You've never seen a sight so fine
As the love that's gonna shine
In city hall."
- Vienna Teng, "City Hall"

"Cold War" - Janelle Monae

"So you think I'm alone
That being alone's the only way to be?"
- Janelle Monae, "Cold War"

"Cry Baby" - Janis Joplin

She was troubled and amazing and a giant hippie and had the best voice and the most soul I have ever heard in my entire life. And this song is kind of necessary, because we're not always tough and independent. Sometimes shit sucks, and you're left behind, and you just need to wail. Poetically.

"Cumdumpster" - Jack Off Jill

"Call me a cunt." - Jack Off Jill, "Cumdumpster"

Because no one knows how to do angry like a Riot Grrrl.

"Defying Gravity" - Wicked Original Broadway Cast

"So if you can't find me
Look to the Western sky
As someone told me lately
Everyone deserves the chance to fly
And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am defying gravity!
" - Wicked Original Broadway Cast, "Defying Gravity"

"Don't Waste the Pretty" - Allison Iraheta

"Don't waste the pretty on him
Don't waste the pretty on pain....
....Because you're beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL
- Allison Iraheta, "Don't Waste the Pretty"

"Dreamer" - Sarah Sellers

"I see it in your eyes
Hopes and dreams that just won't die
So you make your way....
....When will you get there?
Well maybe I'm just a little bit scared.
What's it like when you get there?
What's it like when you find the other side?"
- Sarah Sellers, "Dreamer"

"Farmer's Daughter" - Crystal Bowersox

"'Farmer's Daughter' is a true story about my childhood. I don't want to say that it was all dark and stormy because it wasn't. We had a lot of good times despite our differences and the situation. But it's just truth. I guess it's my perspective, really. My mom might tell you a different story -- who knows? I love my mom. She's taught me through her own example how to be a strong, independent woman, and she's all about survival, and I love her for that. She didn't always make the best decisions, but now that I'm an adult and I look back, you realize when you're older that your parents are just people doing their best. I think she did all right. I turned out OK." - Crystal Bowersox

"Fighter" - Christina Aguilera

"Makes me that much stronger
Makes me that much wiser
Thanks for making me a fighter."
- Christina Aguilera, "Fighter"

I still maintain that this is the best song she's ever done. It's angry. It's about her father's abuse. But it could be about anything and anyone - as long as you've had a time in your life when what didn't kill you, made you stronger.

"Forgotten" - Avril Lavigne

"I'm moving on,
I won't forget you were the one that was wrong."
- Avril Lavigne, "Forgotten"

So, um. Back when I was about 13, I really liked this woman and this song. And sometimes your angry 13-year-old self needs to yell a bit, you know?

"Fully Alive" - Flyleaf

"She's fully alive
More than most ready to smile."
- Flyleaf, "Fully Alive"

"Grandmother's Song" - Vienna Teng

"Take it from your grandmother
I've been 'round."
- Vienna Teng, "Grandmother's Song"

"Gunpowder and Lead" - Miranda Lambert

"I got two miles 'til he makes bail
And if I'm right, we're headed straight for hell.
I'm goin' home, gonna load my shotgun
Wait by the door and light a cigarette
He wants a fight, well now he's got one
He ain't seen me crazy yet.
Slapped my face and shook me like a rag doll
Don't that sound like a real man?
I'm gonna show him what little girls are made of -
Gunpowder and lead
- Miranda Lambert, "Gunpowder and Lead"

"Helter Skelter" - Dana Fuchs

I know that Helter Skelter is a Beatles song. But, well.  Dana Fuchs' voice and wild stage presence makes me pee myself a little. Also, she can backbend almost as amazingly as LynZ Way. So. :D

"Here's to Your Fuck" - The Gits

Um. Remember how I talked about nobody doing angry as well as Riot Grrrls? Yeah.

"Hit Me With Your Best Shot" - Pat Benatar


"I Wanna Funk You, Too" - Natalie Portman on SNL

"DON'T TEST ME WHEN I'M CRAZY OFF THAT AIRPLANE GLUE." - Natalie Portman on SNL, "I Wanna Funk You Too"

"I Will Survive" - Stephanie Bentley

"I'll tough it out, I won't give in
If I'm knocked down I'll get up again
I will survive."
- Stephanie Bentley, "I Will Survive"

"I'm A Woman" - Koko Taylor

"I'm a woman,
I'm a ball of fire
I'm a woman
I could make love to a crocodile."
- Koko Taylor, "I'm A Woman"

"If Only Out of Vanity" - Staceyann Chin

"Every single day I know what I want to be now. I want to be that voice that makes Guiliani so scared that he hires two butch black bodyguards. I want to write the poem that the New York Times will not print. I want to be the girl your parents will use as a bad example of a lady. I want to be the dyke who likes to fuck men." - Staceyann Chin, "If Only Out of Vanity"

"It Gets Better" - Rebecca Drysdale

"But when they call you weirdos, fags
and rejects, flamers, gays and hags,
baby dykes and homo dykes,
lesbos, homos and queer-bags,
it might seem like it's hopeless and will never be ok,
but listen to the ones who care,
believe them when they say...
It gets better!
One day you'll look back and you won't give a fuck,
when you're swimming through your pussyfall
like Scrooge-fucking-McDuck."
- Rebecca Drysdale, "It Gets Better"

Kat Bjelland and Joan Jett Talking

"Lady Marmalade" - Fantasia

So I put a song about a prostitute into a post about women's empowerment, because, well, maybe it deserves to be there. Also because Fantasia's rendition of this is amazing - she's singing to one of her heroes, Patti LaBelle, a song that that hero pioneered. And they had a mid-performance smooch. :D

"Love Me or Hate Me" - Lady Sovereign

"I ain't got the biggest breastseses
But I write all the bestseses
I got hairy armpits but I don't walk around like this
I wear a big baggy t-shirt that hides that nasty shit
Never had my nails done
Bite them down until they're none."
- Lady Sovereign, "Love Me or Hate Me"

Lady Sovereign is a British lesbian rapper. I dont know how to beat that, really.

"M.I.A." - 7 Year Bitch [WARNING: RAPE]

This song was written about Gits singer Mia Zapata, who was raped and killed one night, never to have her killer caught. The women of 7 Year Bitch were her friends. They named this album 'Viva Zapata.'

"Mace Spray" - The Jezebels

"I studied a little bit of gender studies towards the end of my arts degree, and I really got interested in the stigma of feminism, and how people are kind of like, oh, get over it, and it’s just sort of a bad word. And to be a feminist is, you know, passe and negative and naive, and all that kind of stuff. And I wanted to somehow be a femme band but be aware of that at the same time, and I think my lyrics are just a process of me trying to do that. Whether I succeed or not is questionable, because most people don’t get it. With 'Mace Spray,' for example (whose chorus includes the line, “She loves me / More than anyone who wouldn’t lay a hand”), it’s kind of about feminism, the “she” in it. And her as a sort of fairly fickle master, and having trouble with her because she wants to liberate you and she means so many good things to you as a woman, or as a girl. But at the same time, she makes you really scared and she makes you have a lot of anger. And trying to sort of be a modern feminist, or a contemporary feminist, or someone who doesn’t have to hate men and all the negatives of feminism. I suppose, for me, it’s an attempt to try and put feminism in your face, whilst transcending or even satirizing that attitude that it’s a negative thing. But also, I’m torn. Like, it sometimes is a bad thing for me. It makes you angry. It’s basically my ongoing struggle with feminism." - The Jezebels

"Miss Nothing" - The Pretty Reckless
"I’m a promoter of masturbation. Don’t sleep around—learn yourself first! Guys do, but girls don’t. And that’s why girls have so many bad experiences. But you can know your body, know yourself, know what feels good. You don’t have to give yourself away just to have sexual relevance. Because I don’t think sex is something people should be afraid of. It’s part of human nature, so I don’t think it should be so shameful—particularly for girls and young girls." - Taylor Momsen

"Most Girls" - Pink

"Shorty got a job,
Shorty got a car,
Shorty can pay her own rent."
- Pink, "Most Girls"

"Mulan Goes to War" 


"My First Period" - Staceyann Chin [WARNING: RAPE]

"Even Jesus had to pass through a punany. Angels and messengers aside, Mary had to give passage to God, or them Christians might still be Jews, waiting for a Christ that was stuck up the ass of some man who thought he could do what little girls do." - Staceyann Chin, "My First Period"

"Not Ready to Make Nice" - Dixie Chicks

"You said, 'Can't you just get over it?'
It turned my whole world around,
And I kinda like it."
- Dixie Chicks, "Not Ready to Make Nice"

Circa 2003, the Dixie Chicks played at an overseas concert. There, they mentioned that they were ashamed that President Bush had come from their home state of Texas. Their sales plummeted. America grew angry at them. They received death threats. And then, you know, they got mad as hell and wrote this song to say, 'Fuck you, all of you.'

"Penny's Song" - Felicia Day
"Here's a story of a girl
Who grew up lost and lonely."
- Felicia Day, "Penny's Song"

"Precious Things" - Tori Amos

"So you can make me come.
It doesn't make you Jesus."
- Tori Amos, "Precious Things"

"Pretty" - Katie Makkai

"'Don't worry, we'll get it all fixed,' she would say, grasping my face and turning it this way and that." - Katie Makkai, "Pretty"

"Rolling in the Deep" - Adele

"The focus on my appearance has really surprised me. I've always been a size 14 to 16, I don't care about clothes, I'd rather spend my money on cigarettes and booze." - Adele

"Say Yes (Studio Version)" - Andrea Gibson

"This is for the time you went through hell so someone else wouldn't have to." - Andrea Gibson

"Sex is Not the Enemy" - Garbage

"'Sex Is Not the Enemy' is sort of a manifesto in a way. I had no idea it was until I looked back and thought, ‘This really is an anthem to my sexual politics'" - Shirley Manson

"Sixteen Year Old Prostitute" - Unknown

Just. This. I don't have words for it.

"Stand My Ground" - Within Temptation

"Stand my ground,
I won't give in."
- Within Temptation, "Stand My Ground"

"Suck My Left One" - Bikini Kill

"You learn that the only way to get rock-star power as a girl is to be a groupie and bare your breasts and get chosen for the night. We learn that the only way to get anywhere is through men. And it's a lie." - Kathleen Hanna

"The Wind That Shakes the Barley" - Unknown

"To Adolescent Girls With Crooked Teeth and Pink Hair" - Jeanann Verlee

"Trouble" - Pink

"If you see me coming down the street,
Then you know it's time to go."
- Pink, "Trouble"

"U and Ur Hand" - Pink

Because sometimes we don't fucking want your attention, boys.

"U.N.I.T.Y." - Queen Latifah

"Who are you calling a bitch?" - Queen Latifah, "U.N.I.T.Y."

"Violet" - Hole

Because I have a huge appreciation for lipstick-smeared, bare-footed, guitar-wielding, screaming women.

"Voodoo Woman" - Koko Taylor

"They call me the voodoo woman,
And I know the reason why." -
Koko Taylor, "Voodoo Woman"

"Woula Bara Diagna" - Oumou Sangare

"Oumou Sangare was born in 1968 in Bamako, the capital of Mali, her family, though, was from Wassoulou, in the southwestern region of Mali.... Sangare most often sings about about love and the importance of freedom of choice in marriage, an issue she feels strongly about because her father had two wives which Sangare thought was a "catastrophe."" - African Music Encyclopedia

"Wrecking Ball" - Chris Pureka

"An interviewer asked Chris Pureka to sum up her music as a haiku. I will: Folky sorrowful songs of loneliness and hurt, longing to reunite. Her tunes have the grave Appalachian flavor of Neil Young and Gillian Welch; her guitar playing is subdued but quietly virtuosic. And her voice can be a desolate whisper or a bitter accusation. There's no comfort, for her, in the clarity of her observations." - John Pareles, THE NEW YORK TIMES

"You Oughta Know (Live)" - Alanis Morisette

My favorite breakup song. Because she is unashamedly bitter, wildly angry, and extremely gritty. Also, in this live performance she is wearing green lipstick.

"Zombie" - The Cranberries

"Lead singer Dolores O'Riordan claimed that "Zombie" speaks about "The Irish fight for independence that seems to last forever."" - Songfacts