Marina Maida

For the purpose of this podcast, I’d like to analyze the song “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore, 1963, as it was re-released by Grace ft. G-Eazy in 2015. Lesley’s original version of the song is much shorter than Grace’s release and clocks in at just about 2 minutes. The song itself is about female empowerment and bodily autonomy. This song is especially ground breaking because it’s first release was during a time when it wasn’t even common place for women to work, let alone call out claim their bodies and their lives as their own against their male counterpart. I’m interested to dig deeper into the context of the song’s initial release and how it parallels to the release of Grace’s cover that was so popular it was even used for the mega-hit movie Suicide Squad.

This song is empowering for young women to stand up to their partner, their partner’s expectations, and society’s expectation. “You Don’t Own Me” is protesting against the patriarchal stances that are embedded within unhealthy relationship norms. The singer claims herself as her own and no one else and no one can tell her any different. “I’m free, and I love to be free to live my life the way I want. To say and do whatever I please,” is a line that basically summarizes the entirety of theme. The song was popularized yet again throughout the second wave of the women’s movement during it’s release in 2015.

As this song is paralleled between 1963 and 2015, so over 50 years of issues and gender inequalities for women. I think it will be interesting to research exactly what kinds of specific wars women were fighting in the 1960’s and see what kind of progress was made in terms of education, employment, healthcare, reproductive rights (like Roe v Wade in 1973). There have been so many milestones and shortcomings in the past 50 years in terms of gender equality so I think it’ll be really interesting to unpack some of the context surrounding “You Don’t Own Me”‘s initial release and Grace’s 2015 adaptation. Lesley Gore sung the song totally by herself, yet Grace invited G-Eazy to collaborate with her on the track. How does that alter (if at all) the meaning of the song?

As a young woman in America, I think it’s our civic duty to advocate and fight for the equality of all people, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or background. And especially during this particular climate where the rights of women everywhere are being threatened, this brings an immediate importance to me. To give one example, with restrictions to reproductive rights, it’s immperative to remind those who are trying to take these rights away that we (as women) have a right to bodily autonomy and that though the decision isn’t for you, it shouldn’t be your decision to take that choice out of the hands of someone else – and I think this song really speaks to that idea.

Some complications to the project would most likely be the incorporation of G-Eazy and how that complicates the true meaning of the original song in addition to the discussion of difficult topics surrounding the context of “You Don’t Own Me”‘s original release: domestic violence, sexual harassment (especially in the new workforce), and the release of the contraceptive pill.