“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’.’

Sample Lyrics 

…And don’t tell me what to do
And don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display, ’cause
You don’t own me, don’t try to change me in any way…

I’m free and I love to be free
To life my life the way I want…

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