The Washington Post

1960s teen idol Lesley Gore leads charge in ‘You Don’t Own Me’ video

In 1964, Lesley Gore belted out “You Don’t Own Me” and a feminist song was born.

It’s still resonating in the 21st century as debate over women’s issues bubbles in the United States before Nov. 6.

On Monday, a video hit YouTube with Gore introducing her song saying, ­“I’m Lesley Gore and I approve this message.”

The video features many women, girls and a few indie stars of all ages lip-syncing the song, and, at times, holding signs about their reproductive freedom. “My body is not a battleground,” read one. Another said, “Get Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries.”

The video, labeled as “YouDon’tOwnMePSA,”  is the mastermind of Sarah Sophie Flicker, a law school graduate, filmmaker, trapeze artist, mother and leader of New York’s The Citizens Band, a cabaret collective that makes political statements.

She writes in an e-mail to PAPER magazine about the video: “Personally, I’m struck by the fact that we are teetering dangerously close to a situation where my daughter won’t have the same rights I’ve enjoyed my entire life and that scares the heck out of me. Women constituted 60% of last elections voters. We can win this thing. We just have to agitate, motivate, and get out the darn vote!”

She asked several friends including Carrie Brownstein, a guitarist and vocalist in Wild Flag and star of “Portlandia,” teen fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson, creator of the website “Rookie,” who recently asked for an interview with President Obama, and Miranda July, a popular performance artist.

The video hits as women’s rights become a critical concern leading into Election Day.

“Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are determined to overturn Roe V. Wade,” the summary under the video states. “Romney has not supported equal pay for women (The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act). Romney has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood. Romney has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Romney doesn’t want health care to cover birth control. Romney says same sex marriage should be banned with a Constitutional Amendment.”

In last week’s debate, Romney became the punch line for jokes as he mentioned that he had “binders full of women” as he was hiring them for top position in his cabinet as Massachusetts’ governor. It was in response to a question about equal pay for women, which Romney never fully answered.  

Republicans argue the war on women is a myth, but many candidates, both Republican and Democrat, have shown that is not the case.

Missouri Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin has led the charge with a variety of remarks. He said in August that women victims of what he described as “legitimate rape” rarely experience pregnancy from that rape. This weekend, he called his opponent, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, a dog. An Akin aide went further on Monday, tweeting a profanity about McCaskill.

Last week, Arizona Democratic senate candidate Richard Carmona, who has had a difficult time connecting with female voters, told a male moderator in his debate that he was “prettier” than CNN’s Candy Crowley.

It’s that kind of rhetoric “You Don’t Own Me” protests. The women starring in the video obviously endorse Obama and encourage other women to do the same: “Our vote alone can win this election…A vote for Obama sends a message: This war on women must end. We will not go backwards.”

The gender gap has narrowed in recent weeks, and that’s what scares women like Gore.

At the video’s end, the former 1960s teen idol, now 66, says, “It’s hard for me to believe but we’re still fighting for the same things we were then. Yes, ladies, we’ve got to come together and get out there and vote and protect our bodies. They’re ours. Please vote.”

Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker








The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Democrats debate Thursday. Get caught up on the race.
The big questions after New Hampshire, from The Post's Dan Balz
Can Bernie Sanders cut into Hillary Clinton's strength in the minority community and turn his challenge into a genuine threat? And can any of the Republicans consolidate anti-Trump sentiment in the party in time to stop the billionaire developer and reality-TV star, whose unorthodox, nationalistic campaign has shaken the foundations of American politics?
Clinton in New Hampshire: 2008 vs. 2015
Hillary Clinton did about as well in N.H. this year as she did in 2008, percentage-wise. In the state's main counties, Clinton performed on average only about two percentage points worse than she did eight years ago (according to vote totals as of Wednesday morning) -- and in five of the 10 counties, she did as well or better.
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.