“Did I hear that right?” “Did he really just sing that?” More and more often these days I find myself on an oldies Pandora stations perking up at lyrical lines that make me shake my head. The lyrics of some beloved classics tend to be incredibly sexist towards women. Sure, these songs were made in different times when feminism wasn’t so strong. However, I do think it’s fair to note classics that are extremely sexist in nature.
He Hit Me | The Crystals
This song has been romanticized by women for as long as it’s been around, but for what? With lines like “He hit me and it felt like a kiss,” and “he hit me and I knew I loved him,” this song is sexist beyond measure and there’s nothing romantic about being hit by your lover.
Surf City | The Beach Boys (Jan and Dean)
The Beach Boys are actually one of my favorite bands, but when I heard immensely sexist lines like “two girls for every boy,” as the chorus and “Well, there’s two swingin’ honeys for every guy; all you gotta do is just wink your eye,” it’s safe to say that this one isn’t my favorite Beach Boys songs.
Baby Its Cold Outside | Dean Martin
This holiday song is ridiculously creepy. Imagine being cuddled up with hot chocolate at Christmas time and hearing some guy trying to keep a girl at his house with lines like “gosh your lips look delicious,” and “what’s the sense of hurting my pride?” No thanks. The girl is clearly trying to leave…and Dean’s basically trapping her. #nightmare.
Someone to Watch over Me | Ella Fitzgerald
This song is pretty sexist as well because it is entirely about depending on a man. Of course, there’s the line that says, “Oh, how I need someone to watch over me,” but a line that’s even worse is “I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the wood.”
I Got a Woman | Ray Charles
The list of sexism wouldn’t be complete without a whopping cliché. Ray Charles has to throw in the classic “she knows a woman’s place is right there now in her home.” If that wasn’t sexist enough, he also says she “never grumbles or fusses, always treats me right” and she’s “never runnin’ in the streets,” as if these are the standard actions one can expect from a woman.
Under My Thumb | The Rolling Stones
“It’s down to me; the difference in the clothes she wears.” The clothes she wears? This is a big battle feminists are fighting right now: the right to wear whatever the hell we want. Another line says,
“The way she talks when she’s spoken to. Down to me, the change has come. She’s under my thumb.” Women are being portrayed as submissive and controlled all throughout this song. Not cool Rolling Stones, not cool.
You Can Have Him | Ella Fitzgerald
The premise of the song is a bit confusing to begin with, but Ella makes one thing clear: her role in her man’s life is to “mend his underwear,” and “cook a breakfast that would please him most.” She also states that she wants to clean up after him and fetch him is shoes. We can’t tell, is this a list of chores to please your man, or an actual song?