The 1990’s, often referred to as the start of “third wave feminism”, were a pivotal time in a new understanding of women’s rights. With the rise of rock, pop, punk and indie female icons vouching for female empowerment, the integrating of the Internet allowed “grrls” from around the nation to join together and celebrate womanhood.
One of the most important shifts that occurred during the nineties, was the idea of embracing sexuality. Women and girls began to fight back the patriarchy, by showing that they can be both sexy and feminine, with also being agent’s of their own life and powerful as hell. Here are some of the songs and icons that shaped the outrageously amazing and awe-inspiring badass lady power of the 90’s:
1. “Just A Girl”- No Doubt
“Just A Girl,” by No Doubt was the definitive 90s girl rock anthem. Led by the notorious Gwen Stefani, “Just A Girl” tackled the frustration girls feel in society, feeling diminished in responsibility and respect in comparison to their male counterparts.
“Just A Girl” continues to combat some of the most harmful stereotypes about being a girl in a male-dominated society, while also maintaining the ultimate jam status.
2. “You Oughta Know” – Alanis Morissette
The ultimate break-up song, “You Oughta Know” was one of Alanis Morissette’s many quirky girl-power driven hits. “You Outghta Know” represented the changing climate around women’s rights as Morissette very candidly expresses her feelings, thoughts, and emotions, in a way that was otherwise taboo prior to the emergence in popular culture of women as mutli-dimensional and sexually expressive human beings.
This two-time Grammy award-winning song (Best Rock Song and Best Female Vocal Performance) encapsulates anger, power, and will continue to resonate with head-banging ladies who just got out of relationship everywhere, forever.
3. “Doo Wop (That Thing) ” – Lauryn Hill
If you don’t know Lauryn Hill already, then you should, because she is a powerhouse. As Janell Hobson once wrote, Hill is the “first female artist to be nominated for and to win the most Grammys in a single night and her album the first hip-hop-themed work to win the Grammy’s top prize of Album of the Year.”
“Doo Wop (That Thing)” was an anthem not only for self-respect, anti-objectification, and educated relationships, but for ladies, self-worth beyond sex, material things, or appearance. Particularly among black women, Lauryn vows for girls to see that they are worthwhile.
Hear that ladies? You are a gem. Lauryn reminds us all to respect ourselves and that we are not defined by anything or anyone besides our own reflections.
4. “Bitch” – Meredith Brooks
Playful and powerful, “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks not only re-defined gender stereotypes, but took charge of the word “bitch,” taking away its identity as a derogatory term and owning the title as a term of empowerment, something that was unheard of years prior. Additionally, “Bitch” re-enforced the idea that femininity can be multifaceted; you can be a mother and a lover (and a child or a sinner of a saint) and still be badass and not boxed in by one label.
5. “Unpretty” – TLC
One of the best-selling girl groups of all-time, TLC definitely knew how to sell records as well as sing-out against sexism. “Unpretty” addresses the overwhelming pressures society (and men) put upon women’s appearances, by ultimately realizing that it is what is on the inside that counts.
Just the right amount of angst, wisdom, and lady power, these songs will without a doubt unleash your 1990’s diva.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.