7 Badass Feminist Music Videos to Lift Your Spirits Today
From J. Lo to Beyoncé, these women prove art has a place in social movements.
When artists use their voice to bring attention to social inequalities, people are moved to take action.
Whether that means rallying millions around the causes of global poverty, hunger, or gender discrimination, artists can make huge a huge impact by lending their voice to issues of pressing importance. (You can help by taking action here.)
Art has the power to stimulate, to motivate, and to inspire. By bringing socially conscious music into the public realm, musicians can help change the conversation across countries, and even the entire world.
That’s exactly what these women did when they made each of the following badass, feminist music videos. With provocative visuals, meaningful lyrics, and surprising featured artists, these seven videos show that art can be a powerful medium for starting conversations and changing perspectives.
Who says feminism isn't catchy?
1/ Colbie Caillat, “Try”
“You don’t have try so hard / You don’t have to give it all away / You just have to get up, get up, get up / You don’t have change a thing.”
Colbie Caillat’s soft-pop “Try” was big when it released back in 2014. It’s easy to see why. Not only is it a mellow, yet catchy, melody you can’t help but sing along with, but the lyrics and music video make a powerful statement about the pressures of living up to societal beauty standards.
In the video, women of all colors, shapes, and sizes shed their makeup, eyelashes, and wigs, affirming that true acceptance comes from within.
2/ Jennifer Lopez, “I Luh Ya Papi” ft. French Montana
“If she was a guy, we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.”
“Why can’t we for once, objectify the men?”
Those are the words spoken to J. Lo’s record executive by the singer’s friend in the opening clip of J. Lo’s “I Luh Ya Papi,” as they group discusses how to flip the script on the music industry.
The result is a montage of J. Lo and her entourage acting the all-too familiar role male artists play in music videos: dancing on yachts, surrounded by beautiful, half-naked bodies. This time however, it’s the women that get to be the stars as scantily clad men lie around in awe of the pop-star and her crew.
3/ Beyoncé, “Run The World (Girls)”
“Boy I know you love it / How we’re smart enough to make these millions, strong enough to bear these children / Then get back to business.”
This iconic video from one of the most iconic modern feminists – CHIME FOR CHANGE co-founder Beyoncé Knowles-Carter — is all about women’s strength. Images of men forming defensive barricades and legions of proud women dancing with fists held high bring home the message that women can’t and won’t be held back by their gender.
In fact, they run the damn world.
4/ Charlie XCX, “Boys”
“I'm sorry that I missed your party /I wish I had a better excuse like ‘I had to trash the hotel lobby /’ But I was busy thinking 'bout boys.”
Featuring cameos from famous male musicians including Will.i.am, Wiz Khalifa, G-Easy, and Diplo, Charlie XCX’s colorful video for “Boys” affirms female sexuality by portraying men — and not women — as sexual objects. If men can produce videos of women washing cars, laying in their underwear, and lounging on a bed of roses, then why can’t women?
Be sure to look out for Mac DeMarco sensually licking his guitar.
5/ Kesha, “Woman” ft. The Dap-Kings Horns
“Everything I got I bought it / Boys can’t buy my love.”
Kesha is fed up with men thinking they can buy her love. That much is clear in this explicit, and badass, video, in which Kesha proudly asserts her womanhood over and over again.
With a feature from the legendary Dap Kings and a retro moody vibe, the stage is set for a great song and video in which Kesha destroys the patriarchal notion that women should rely on men for, well, anything. They can get it themselves.
6/ Mona Haydar, “Hijabi (Wrap my Hijab)”
“I’m bored with your fascination / I need that PayPal, PayPal, PayPal, if you want education.”
This recently released video from independent artist Mona Haydar overlays visuals of women from all over the world dancing in hijabs as the singer proudly demolishes the common objections and myths surrounding the garment. Her lyrics capture the widespread use of hijabs around the world, and advocate for their acceptance by anyone who might not understand them.
And it’s catchy as hell.
7/ Beyoncé, “***Flawless” ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful.”
These aren’t Beyoncé’s words, but those of activist and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose voice the Houston singer intersperses into her song. The quote does do a good job at capturing the spirit of the track, a feminist power anthem about how women and girls can and should do as they please, regardless of a patriarchal societies expectations placed upon them.