“You Don’t Own Me”: An Enduring Lesley Gore Legacy

I remember Lesley Gore (1946-2015), a popular singer in my youth, mainly for her songs “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” and “You Don’t Own Me—all of which, but especially the latter, have always been fun to sing along with female friends, usually the higher the decibels the better.

This song was released originally in 1963—that would make me about 11 at the time. And after all these years, the use of this song as the cornerstone of a relatively recent PSA regarding women’s rights gives me a big big kick.

By the way, Gore introduces this herself, and just some of the other peeps you might recognize in the video below: actresses Mae Whitman, Lena Dunham, and Natasha Lyonne; singer Sia.

Another enjoyable version of this tune, an update, is performed by Grace, featuring G-Eazy:

Update, 2019: Now “an anthem of the #MeToo movement” co-writer John Madara has recently said that “the message…is ultimately about empathy” (Neda Ulaby, NPR). ‘”Listen to what people have to say; be kind and loving to the people you come into contact with,’ he says. ‘I think ‘You Don’t Own Me’ says that. It says, ‘Treat people fairly’.”

Also check out the version by Kristin Chenoweth with Ariana Grande:

Lyrics 

You don’t own meI’m not just one of your many toysYou don’t own meDon’t say I can’t go with other boys
And don’t tell me what to doDon’t tell me what to sayAnd please, when I go out with youDon’t put me on display ’cause
You don’t own meDon’t try to change me in any wayYou don’t own meDon’t tie me down ’cause I’d never stay
I don’t tell you what to sayI don’t tell you what to doSo just let me be myselfThat’s all I ask of you
I’m young and I love to be youngI’m free and I love to be freeTo live my life the way I wantTo say and do whatever I please
And don’t tell me what to doOh, don’t tell me what to sayAnd please, when I go out with youDon’t put me on display
I don’t tell you what to sayOh, don’t tell you what to doSo just let me be myselfThat’s all I ask of you
I’m young and I love to be youngI’m free and I love to be free
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