Since its creation, music has inspired and influenced. Musicians hold benefit concerts where proceeds are donated to help various causes. Songwriters and organizations write songs to raise awareness of events or world issues. Now, during a time when conversations surrounding women, gender and sexuality have become commonplace, a number of songs have been written to support those included in these groups. So, Fairfield University’s women, gender & sexuality studies department has worked together to compile a playlist of these songs.

From biology and business to ethics and English, these 12 professors have ensured that any student can participate in one of Fairfield’s newest interdisciplinary minors — women, gender & sexuality studies. Not only are courses contributing to the minor available in nearly every department, it is possible to earn the minor by taking only one course in addition to core classes. This accessibility to the minor is especially important because of the growing interest in the field due to the world’s and Fairfield’s current climate, where there are events on these topics held every month, from trips to participate in the Women’s March in January to the Anna Arnold Hedgeman talk in March. Dr. Emily Orlando, the director of the WGSS department and English professor, recently announced that there are currently 69 participants and counting in the WGSS minor, a huge jump since the 25 participants in spring 2015.

From songs that promote self-esteem and world mentality, to songs that encourage activism and counteract traditional stereotypes, here are seven songs selected by members of the WGSS department.

Daya — “Sit Still, Look Pretty”

“This is a theme for my course, Literature by Women. Women have historically been asked to sit in the corner, shut up, smile, and make themselves attractive to men, even when they may not be attracted to men.” -Dr. Orlando

Ani Difranco — “Not a Pretty Girl”

“Because gender stereotypes suck.” – Professor Maggie Labinski, Philosophy

India.Arie — “I Am Not My Hair”

“In this song, the artist empowers women — and especially black women — to love themselves based on who they are within. In a world where women are constantly critiqued based on how they look this is vitally important. For recent examples, consider comments about Rep. Maxine Waters’ hair and the resulting #blackwomenatwork trend on Twitter.” -Dr. Rachelle Brunn-Bevel, Sociology and Anthropology

Pat Benatar — “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”

“This song advocates for an equal playing ground, which women still don’t enjoy in the workplace. You can see this by looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” – Dr. Orlando

Aretha Franklin — “Respect”

“Aretha is confident and powerful as she literally spells it out for her audience, commanding attention and making everyone listen up. She encourages women to value themselves and expect others to give them R-e-s-p-e-c-t!” -Dr. Johanna Garvey, English

“The anthem for HI 245 Feminism in the United States as performed by the Queen of Soul exemplifies an essential goal of the women’s liberation movement and signals a revolution to which you can dance.”-Dr. Elizabeth Hohl, History

Dianne Reeves — “Endangered Species”

“This is a powerful ode to the woman artist, especially when she sings ‘I am a woman, I am an artist, and I know where my voice belongs.’” – Dr. Orlando

Gloria Gaynor — “I Will Survive”

“Because survival is the first step, and reflecting upon your own strength is how you get there.” – Professor Labinski

About The Author

-- Executive Editor Emeritus -- English Literature & Film, Television, and Media Arts

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