Most sexist songs of the '60s

The 6 Sexistiest Songs of the ’60s — #6

I love songs from the 1960s.  The music was hap­py, the hooks were catchy and the singers could actu­al­ly sing.  Still, if you real­ly lis­ten to some of the lyrics to these tunes, you’ll also find a good num­ber of the songs to be ridicu­lous­ly sex­ist.  You can make the argu­ment that there are some songs just as sex­ist today, but I would argue that these mod­ern songs are not reflec­tive of how women are actu­al­ly treat­ed like ‘60s songs were (grant­ed, I wasn’t there… but I’ve watched Mad Men…).  Any­way, I have com­piled a list of the six most sex­ist songs of the six­ties (I could have cho­sen more, but I like the allit­er­a­tion too much), com­plete with the music, the lyrics and my reaction. 

Just to give some para­me­ters to how I com­piled the list, I basi­cal­ly looked at whether a song had gen­er­al state­ments of how men or women are, advice that ends up demean­ing women and if there were pow­er sit­u­a­tions that would not (or at least should not) exist today.  In terms of the music, it helped if the songs were guile­less, earnest, cheer­ful and not at all sexy (which is why the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb” is not on the list).  I will be post­ing a new song every day for the next six days, so, with­out fur­ther ado, here is #6:


That’s the Way Boys Are” – Leslie Gore (1964)


When I’m with my guy and he watch­es the pret­ty girls go by
Well it hurts so bad deep inside, I wish that I could die
Not a word do I say
I just look the oth­er way
Cause that’s the way boys are
That’s the way boys are

When he treats me rough and he acts as though he does­n’t care
Well I nev­er tell him that he is being so unfair
Cause he loves me and I know it
He is just afraid to show it
That’s the way boys are
That’s the way boys are

Oh, when he wants to be alone
I just let him be
Cause I know that soon enough
He’ll come back to me
He’ll come back to me

When we have a fight
And I don’t think that I’ll see him anymore
But before I know it there he is
Standin at my door
Well I let him kiss me then
Cause I know he wants me back
That’s the way boys are (repeat)


That’s the Way Boys Are” is basi­cal­ly a song that excus­es any bad behav­ior that your boyfriend com­mits as boys being boys.  Your guy fools around?  He treats you mean?  He leaves you only to come back when­ev­er he wants?  That’s the way boys are, and if you don’t like it, what are you going to do?  Date a girl?  In the case of the singer, Leslie Gore, yes.


11 thoughts on “The 6 Sexistiest Songs of the ’60s — #6

  1. I think you should have also includ­ed Only Women Bleed by Alice Coop­er. It implies that women do noth­ing but mewl and sob over men that neglect and beat them and don’t do any­thing to retal­i­ate or get them­selves out of the sit­u­a­tion. Many of us are much stronger than that. I’m dis­ap­point­ed in you, Alice, as I’ve always liked your music otherwise.


    1. Thanks for com­ment­ing. I only includ­ed songs that were record­ed in the 1960s. Coop­er record­ed “Only Women Bleed” in the 1970s.


    2. I don’t think you under­stand the premise of this song. It is sym­pa­thet­ic to the plight of a woman in an abu­sive rela­tion­ship. It describes how she feels. It is not a pro­nounce­ment that women as a whole are weak. The truth is that in about 90% of abu­sivere­la­tion­ships, the abuser is a man. The song is a com­ment on that fact, also. And yes, the thought cross­es the mind of the woman that per­haps this is why women men­stru­ate (bleed), because women are the ones who are abused, that it is just our lot in life.


  2. Leslie Gore also sang “You Don’t Own Me,” tho…

    I don’t k


  3. I was only about 7 years old when Les­ley Gore’s first hit came out in 1963 (It’s My Par­ty) and yet I remem­ber her vivid­ly. She appeared on the Ed Sul­li­van Show and oth­er vari­ety shows of that era. I thought I knew most of her hits until I stum­bled across this one some­time a few years ago. I real­ly liked how it sound­ed, at least, until I actu­al­ly paid clos­er atten­tion to the lyrics. The song is “Maybe I Know” and was released in 1964 and the only excuse I have for miss­ing it is that was the year The Bea­t­les appeared on the Ed Sul­li­van Show and every­one went crazy (includ­ing me!) The lyrics are:

    Maybe I know that he’s been a cheatin’
    Maybe I know that he’s been untrue
    But what can I do

    I hear them whis­per­ing when I walk by
    He’s gonna break her heart and make her cry
    I know it’s me they’re talk­ing about
    I bet they all think I’ll nev­er find out

    Oh but maybe I know that he’s been a cheatin’
    Maybe I know that he’s been untrue but what can I do

    my friends are telling me that he’s no good
    He isn’t treat­ing me the way he should
    He real­ly loves me that’s all I can say
    Before my tears fall I just walk away

    Oh but maybe I know that he’s been a cheatin’
    Maybe I know that he’s been untrue
    But what can I do

    Deep down inside he loves me
    Though he may run around
    Deep down inside he loves me
    Some day he’ll set­tle down


  4. You real­ize Leslie Gore also pro­vid­ed the vocals for “You Don’t Own Me” as well, right? She prob­a­bly should get a lit­tle cred­it for that.


    1. That’s a great point. I actu­al­ly like Leslie Gore quite a lot and don’t think any artist should be judged sole­ly on the basis of a sin­gle work. So, I’m not judg­ing Leslie Gore. I’m sim­ply judg­ing the song itself.


  5. First of all, I love this song — and I love Les­ley Gore. What I tru­ly believe about her is that she wrote lyrics in order to troll the effed up sex­u­al stan­dards of her time (not that they’re all that much bet­ter now!)

    She’s no dope and, as has already been point­ed out, she’s the one who wrote “You Don’t Own Me”. None of the obser­va­tions we’re mak­ing from our “enlight­ened” per­spec­tive fifty years into the future would have been any sort of sur­prise to her. 

    She wrote a lot of songs, a lot of weird songs, from the per­spec­tive of a tor­tured het­ero­sex­u­al teenage girl in the days when most f us couldn’t spell fem­i­nism. She wrote (because she her­self was gay) from the point of view of a par­tic­u­lar­ly astute outsider. 

    Read her lyrics in “Some­times I Wish I Were A Boy” or “Judy’s Turn To Cry” — “I saw John­ny kiss­ing Judy, so I kissed some oth­er guy, so John­ny got up and he hit him — ‘cause he real­ly loves me that’s why”. 

    She was on to what was going on and she was delight­ful­ly sub­ver­sive. Don’t under­es­ti­mate her!


  6. Heard What’s New Pussy­cat recent­ly. Sur­prised it missed the cut. Plus I did­n’t real­ize how aggres­sive­ly Tom Jones sings the lyrics. Sounds like a stalk­er almost. Also, I defend inclu­sion of Take a Let­ter Maria. Peo­ple com­ment­ing seem to ignore work­place sex­u­al harass­ment rules. You can’t be tak­ing out your sec­re­tary. So casu­al, as if Maria has no rea­son to turn down his offer???


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