Feminist Songs…: Day 11, One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

My mother, Robin Crane, has been following our Feminist Songs series. She has already assisted once this semester with a Women’s Studies event and, I think it is fair to say, started me feministing at a young age: I distinctly remember the buildup to the 1980 presidential election, and watching politics on TV with my family because Geraldine Ferraro was the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic party.  Of course, Reagan won that election and the election after that. But it was a potential sea change and at only age 4, it was my mother who helped me see that. Not long after, she encouraged me to start a scrap book of women doing amazing things in the news. It was she who bought for me a much-loved early omnibus of 1940’s Wonder Woman comics, edited and introduced by Gloria Steinem. To sum, I don’t know if I’d be me without her.   

Robin Crane, born at the tale end of World War II, has suggested that this series consider two songs that were the first pop music women’s liberation anthems which many in her generation came to know as adults. I grew up listening to Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” (yes, it is such a big deal that the song has its own Wikipedia entry) on my home hi-fi system, and discovered Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” a little later (yep, this too has its own Wiki page).  I can still hear the base line for the latter whenever I think of it. Both songs share a sense of women in control of their own lives, broadly but also in their romantic/sexual relationships. My mother was in her early 20’s when Sinatra’s song came out, and just 30 when Reddy’s song was first released. Not only were they important to her but, as the Wiki entries point out, both were influential for the women’s movement at this time. If you don’t know them yet, I am sure you will be interested in them as both historical works giving popular voice to women’s worth and self-confidence, and perhaps even as songs you will come to know and love or already love and are glad to remember. Lyrics are below each song in case you want to learn them or cannot listen to the music for whatever reason.

–Alison Reiheld, Director of the SIUE Women’s Studies Program

LYRICS:

You keep saying you got something for me
Something you call love but confess
You’ve been a’messin’ where you shouldn’t ‘ve been a’messin’
And now someone else is getting all your best
Well, these boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

You keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’
You keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin’ when you oughta be a’changin’
What’s right is right but you ain’t been right yet
These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

You keep playing where you shouldn’t be playing
And you keep thinking that you’ll never get burnt (HAH)
Well, I’ve just found me a brand new box of matches (YEAH)
And what he knows you ain’t had time to learn
These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

LYRICS

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman

I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

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