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Up yours: a feminist soundtrack



On the way to Helena for Saturday's Women's March on Montana, our carload of women listened to a playlist made for the occasion. It was created by our driver, Emma, and titled "Who Runs this Motherfucker," and it included Chaka Khan, George Michael, The Slits and the Nirvana song "Been a Son." In the days since the march, I've started sifting through music I know would be ripe for the feminist movement against Trump's America, and I keep coming back to some of those songs on the playlist. There are thousands of resistance songs out there, but here are a few solid ones to put on your future-is-female list.

Salt-N-Peppa, "None of Your Business"

There are a lot of stellar songs out there about sex-positive lifestyles—Le Tigre's "After Dark," for instance—but there's no better jam than Salt-N-Peppa's "None of Your Business" for taking a stand against the body-shaming religious right. "If I/ want to take a guy/home with me tonight/ it's none of your business," they rap.


"And if she/want to be a freak/and sell it on the weekend/It's none of your business." When Salt-N-Peppa performed at the Adams Center in September, they rolled out a lot of their 1980s and '90s classics, including "Let's Talk About Sex," but the confrontational tone of "None of Your Business" seems the most relevant now.

X-Ray Spex, "Oh Bondage Up Yours!"

In the closing song from X-Ray Spex' 1978 album Germfree Adolescents, singer Poly Styrene (in her cheeky British accent) says, "Some people say little girls should be seen and not heard," before yelling "Oh bondage?! Up yours!" and diving into a frenzied punk song. I love that bondage is treated like a character here, and what feminist doesn't love the phrase "up yours" when everything else has been said?


Nina Simone, "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free"

Nina Simone made music between the 1950s and 1970s in classical, jazz, pop and R&B, and she did it with a feminist edge, including the song "Four Women." "I Wish I Knew..." was a 1960s civil rights anthem in which Simone sang, "I wish I could break/All the chains holding me/I wish I could say/All the things that I should say." It's a good song to remind women that racial justice is part of this fight.


Loretta Lynn, "The Pill"

It's problematic that Loretta Lynn voted for Donald Trump, considering his toxic actions and attitude toward women. But I gotta give credit to the lady who wrote "The Pill." Even though we've come a long way from this issue (or have we?), it was a big-deal feminist song when it came out in 1975, and it still sounds pretty sassy.

Pussy Riot, "Make America Great Again"

The feminist protest band from Moscow sticks it to Trump with his own slogan.

The song packs a lot of issues including refugees, the murder of black children, immigration, gender oppression and torture, all the while imagining what it might really mean to make America great.

Beyonce, "Run The World (Girls)"

Beyonce doesn't ask permission and she doesn't lament the way the world should have been. In "Run the World (Girls)" she chants "Girls, we run this motha!" over a strutting melody and military march drums like a drill sergeant. Beyonce has a lot of songs to choose from, including "Formation," but this one's message is as straightforward as it gets.


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