“You Don’t Own Me” was recorded by Leslie Gore in 1963 when she was only 17 years old. At the time, the feminism movement wasn’t in full swing (or in any swing yet), so in own her take on the song itself, Gore enjoyed the idea of being defiant and telling people they don’t own her. However, the song ended up often thought to be one of the most important anthems that enhanced the second wave in the feminist movement. Many say that 1963 was the beginning of the feminist movement. In January of that year, female journalist Gloria Steinem exposed the low pay, sexual harassment, and racism while auditioning to become a Playboy Bunny.

At this time, it was custom to get married right out of high school and it was very seldom that women went to college. Leslie Gore not only didn’t get married even though she was “scheduled to,” but she ended up attending Sarah Lawrence College where she discovered that she was a lesbian.

Some lyrics that explicitly connect the movements and ideas to this song are found below:

“Don’t tell me what to do/ Don’t tell me what to say. And please, when I go out with you/ don’t put me on display.” Gore is explicitly telling the other that she is not an object of desire and she will not be a mouthpiece.

“I’m free, and I love to be free to live my life the way I want / to say and do whatever I please”

The early 60’s marked a significant time for women and their reproductive health. In 1961, a new form contraception was introduced as the form of the pill. At first, this was only prescribed to married women, and then offered to women who were single years later. Following this, in 1967 the Abortion Act was passed, creating access to legal and safe abortions.