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.


12 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???


  7. Wishin’ and Hopin’ is up there too. Wear your hair just for him, do the things he likes to do.… If you want to keep him, do every­thing to please him.


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