Genderlicious: Video Weekend Anthems

I was watching the new interactive Robyn video for "Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do"—clever concept: you can add your own entry to Robyn's list of things that are "killing her" by adding a #killingme hashtag to your tweet. Click here to see more, but warning, the video made me nauseous; lots of spinning geometric thingies—and I started thinking about various lady anthems that encourage listeners not to feel bad about their lives. As you can guess, listening to "Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do" can be an empowering experience, with lines like:

Can't sleep, it's killing me/My dreams are killing me/The TV is killing me/My talking's killing me

Let go, you're killing me/Ease up, you're killing me/Calm down, you're killing me/My god, you're killing me

Followed by

Don't fucking tell me what to do, do!/Don't fucking tell me what to do, do, do, do, do!/Don't fucking tell me what to do!Don't fucking tell me what to do, do!

So I decided to share some of my favorite "Don't sweat it! You got this!" anthems with you. 

Bag Lady - Erykah Badu

One day, all them bags gon' get in your way. I shook my booty to this song many a time before I realized that it is actually an anti-consumerist anthem packaged in the most compassionate older-sister-pep-talk-lecture I've ever heard.

Favorite part of the video: the way Erykah pushes at the frame of the video to make it bigger—because we all need our space, man.

Favorite line: Letitgoletitgoletitgo/Letitgoletitgoletitgo. 

Full lyrics here.

Don't Rush Me - Jean Grae

This one is like a list of all of my neuroses, set to really great music. As an anthem, it works in almost the opposite way from "Bag Lady," in that Grae shares all her bad moods:

I know I'm overly sensitive when it comes to, well/Just about everything/And I'm so hardheaded, I don't need your help/.../Like I don't ever want to breathe if it requires assistance/Just, just shut down my system

bad habits:

My gear fetish clearly needs an accountant

and insecurities:

Creepin' on a come up at thirty soon/But lookin' twenty ooh/The food catches up to you now plenty/Attendin' christenin's of my best friend's children/And then askin' who's next 

In other words, she gives us a laundry list of all the ways in which she is inadequate, from not making enough money, to being down on herself. But the point of the song is that in spite of all her shortcomings, (or because of them?) she finds a way to be kind to herself. She sees that she's on her journey, even if it's hard: 

I yell too much, get stressed too quick/But the best thing about it, I can change that shit/And still remain who I came down to Earth to be

What I love most about this song is how comforting it is. Whenever I have a bad day where I feel bad about myself for feeling bad about myself, (oh I know you have them too) I put on this video.  

Favorite part of the video: Well, this is one of the greatest injustices of modern music—Jean Grae is not a huge star, hence no video for this song! Even with lyrics like that! We ought to start a campaign to change that. 

Favorite line: (this is actually the whole chorus) I know I'm on the right path/To who I'm gonna be at last/Don't rush me n****/I know I'm wrong and right/At the same time, both I'm the dark and light/And they say life needs everything to live/At the same time I got everything to give/Just don't rush me/Don't rush me

Tell me this is not a serious anthem.

Full lyrics here 

Let It Go - Keyshia Cole, Missy Elliott

Ok, so this may seem like a strange choice. But while "Bag Lady" is all about getting a pep talk from a fierce elder, and "Don't Rush Me" is about commiserating with a good friend, "Let it Go" is about getting a really good piece of advice from an unexpected source—maybe the person in line next to you for the bathroom at the club. Because if you set aside all the girl-on-girl in-fighting that goes on in this song (and really, that's mostly just Lil' Kim's part), it's actually about how you shouldn't worry about people who don't know how to treat you, because hey, you're better than that. 

Favorite part of the video: the opening dialogue between Keyshia and Missy -

Missy: Girl look, why you looking like that, again?

Keyshia: Seriously Miss, I cannot deal with these insecurities. This dude is really stressing me out, I got too much I'm trynna do. I really need to let it go.

Missy: Ok, you know what, I don't even need to hear the story. I'm gonna take you to this club round the block because I got my new Chanel we go!

Keyshia: Is Kim coming?

Missy: We gonna go pick up Kim. Let it go for real!

I like this dialogue because they're both super cute; and because in one minute they basically demonstrate the profound essence of true friendship—you take your friends out for a good time so they can finally let go of all the junk that hurts them.  

Favorite line: (You can also substitute the pronouns to make it less heteronormative. I enjoy doing that.)

And if you only knew/You would/Do what you had to/Finally see that, finally get the chance to see that/You need to get [that] if he don't wanna/Love you the right way he ain't gonna/...

If he ain't gonna love you/The way he should/Then let it go/If he ain't gonna treat you/The way he should/Then let it go

Full lyrics here. 

I have too many runner-ups for great "Don't sweat it! You got this!" anthems. What are some of yours? 

by Thea Lim
View profile »

Still Reading? Sign up for our Weekly Reader!

6 Comments Have Been Posted

OH snap!

i haven't listened to "Bag Lady" in a good reminds me of my favorite Lauren Hill song:

I don't think Bag Lady is

I don't think Bag Lady is necessarily about anti-capitalism (or capitalism), that connection looks like a stretch to me.

I have always read into this song to be mental health related, where "letting it go" as in emotional baggage in the form of bags. I see it to be an urge for self-acceptance and self-love, "getting over" pain and not letting it hold you down in the present.

<i>one day he's gone say you crowding my space</i>. Been there done that! I love this song because I feel like I am still a bag lady and am learning to let go, a bit. Very relatable.

post script

Just to add, FYI, I am pretty sure that the video for Bag Lady is a reference to 'For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf'.



a little bit of this and that

I don't think it is solely about consumerism. I think it is about a lot of things, both literal and metaphysical baggage - even the yoking of the two, where women seek emotional comfort in goods (Gucci bag lady) or men or whatever...when in truth, <i>I guess nobody ever told you, all you must hold on to, is you, is you, is you.</i>

It's all about baggage

Love this and believe the theme is all about baggage on a personal level. For some it's emotional for some it's material and for others it may be something else that they need to let go of in order to move forward in their lives.

Add new comment