July 23, 2017

’90s songs that turned me into a lil feminist

I wasn’t born outraged. It just didn’t take me long to notice the structural bullshit that comes with being a little girl in America. I’ve been prone to injustice-related rage for as long as I can remember. Fortunately, my parents exercised virtually no control over the music I was allowed to listen to growing up, and the ’90s had a lot to offer frustrated, independent young girls who weren’t about take shit from anyone. (See also: Becky “Icebox” O’Shea, Alex Mack)

Salt N Peppa’s “None of Your Business” was my anthem before I was old enough to understand the references. I was the 8-year-old belting out “If I wanna take a guy home with me tonight, it’s none of your business.” It’s a message I revisited when I turned 15 and my peers suddenly became preoccupied with identifying and criticizing any and all “sluts.”

Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughtta Know” taught me it was ok for girls to be angry. And the public discussion around the song taught me people are quick to quick to dismiss angry women as crazy.

I realize now that ’90s music helped form my feminist identity well beyond the Spice Girls’ catchy (but ultimately empty) “girl power” schtick. And a lot of that music holds up far better than the Spice Girls do. So I made a playlist. You’re welcome.

Sarah Kelly Shannon
Sarah Kelly Shannon 10 Articles

Sarah Kelly Shannon has three first names, but is always looking for a few more. A native of Lawrence, Kansas, Sarah has lived a total of 24 years in college towns. Her brief journalism career took her to College Station and Iowa City, where she became one of the foremost authorities on late-night junk food and quality beer specials. Sarah's bulldog, Red, is the greatest dog in the world. That may sound like a subjective statement, but it really isn't. You're just wrong.

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