The two sexes make the human world go ‘round but too often we allow sex and gender to divide us. Greater knowledge, and a better understanding of the science, history, literature and art about sex and gender can help us live more ethically, more fully, and shape a better world.
Though numerically in the majority throughout most of the world, women have been mistreated as inferiors in most cultures throughout history. Certainly this has been true in economically developed countries like the United States. Traditionally, women have been “given” in marriage; the custom of walking the bride down the aisle is only the last vestige of a more destructive reality. In some cultures, when the bride arrived at church for her wedding, she was expected to be dressed in white, unless she was not a virgin, in which case she was expected to announce that she had been sexually indiscrete by wearing another color. When she arrived at the altar to be married, she was expected to promise to obey her husband. Consummation of the marriage was part of the public event: the marital bed would be examined for the bloody evidence of the bride’s virginity, and if it was not present, she could be returned to her family in disgrace. When she arrived at the marital home, the lucky bride was her husband’s property, as she had been her father’s property until the marriage. If her husband died, few jobs were available to her, if any, so that if she had become a mother she might not be able to feed her children.
Human cultures have shaped and could have prevented these developments, but instead have failed to rise above several factors in our evolutionary past. Because women labor under a diminished physical capacity during pregnancy, our species (like most sexual species) developed so that males are larger and stronger, on average, than females. So traditionally men hunted for food, and later by extension of habit and tradition earned an income while women tended to the children. Because women make the greater physical investment in reproduction, our species evolved so that men generally pursue women for encounters that might culminate in reproduction. On average, men are larger and stronger than women and are loaded with testosterone. So traditionally men made decisions, to which women acceded. When a teenage boy calls a girl for a date and she awaits his call, they are conforming to social expectations but they are also living out the results of our evolutionary history.
In the United States for most of our national history, failure to marry was not merely a disgrace but a sentence to a life of poverty. A woman could not own property, since she was property. She could not vote until 1920. Few jobs were available to her, and the few that were available might not pay a living wage; she might be required, effectively, to be a live-in servant. Eventually, because teaching young children was not considered manly work, a woman might be allowed to become a schoolmarm but she would be expected to keep her social life to a minimum or have none at all.
Recently, gender roles have changed significantly in the developed world, as people have at long last reconsidered the necessity, equity and practicality of traditional gender roles in modern life. For the first time, women are becoming doctors, lawyers and heads of state. Women have entered the workforce in large numbers, by law on the same terms as men. In the United States at least, women are matriculating to college at a higher rate than men. While boys in elementary schools dream of becoming athletes, girls dream of becoming business executives. The long-delayed dream of equality is becoming a practical reality for women throughout the world. Many women still choose to be stay-at-home moms, but some husbands are now taking on that role, and increasingly the women who do it do it by choice.
The story of gender roles is a significant part of our narrative, in part because we pay so much attention to gender, in part because so much is changing now, and perhaps most important because of the ethical and moral questions involved. Gender equality is a moral imperative.
Following are a few of the many social histories on this multi-faceted subject.
- Pauline Schmitt Pantel, ed., A History of Women in the West, Volume I: From Ancient Goddesses to Christian Saints (Belknap Press, 1990).
- Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, ed., A History of Women in the West, Volume II: Silences of the Middle Ages (Belknap Press, 1992).
- Natalie Zemon-Davis and Arlette Farge, eds., A History of Women in the West, Volume III: Renaissance and the Enlightenment Paradoxes (Belknap Press, 1993)
- Genevieve Fraisse, ed., A History of Women in the West, Volume IV: Emerging Feminism from Revolution to World War (Belknap Press, 1993).
- Georges Duby and Françoise Thébaud, eds., A History of Women in the West, Volume V: Toward a Cultural Identity in the Twentieth Century (Belknap Press, 1994).
- Lisa DiCaprio and Mary E. Weisner, Lives And Voices: Sources in European Women's History (Houghton Mifflin, 2000).
- Marjorie Agosin, ed., Women, Gender, and Human Rights: A Global Perspective (Rutgers University Press, 2001).
- Mary E. Weisner, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press), 2000.
- Leslie Brubaker and Julia M. H. Smith, Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300-900 (Cambridge University Press, 2004).
- Lisa M. Bitel, Women in Early Medieval Europe: 400-1100 (Cambridge University Press, 2002).
- Emilie Amt, Women's Lives in Medieval Europe: A Sourcebook (Routledge, 1993).
- Jennifer Ward,Women in Medieval Europe: 1200 - 1500 (Longman, 2002).
- (Shulamith Shahar, The Fourth Estate (Methuen Young Books, 1983).
- Mary Erler and Maryanne Kowaleski, eds., Gendering the Master Narrative: Women and Power in the Middle Ages (Cornell University Press, 2003).
- Judith M. Bennett, Elizabeth A. Clark, Jean F. O'Barr and B. Anne Vilen, eds., Sisters and Workers in the Middle Ages (University of Chicago Press Journals, 1989).
- Margaret Wade Labarge, A Small Sound of the Trumpet: Women in Medieval Life (Beacon Press, 1986).
- Lisa M. Bitel, Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland (Cornell University Press, 1996).
- Peter Berresford Ellis, Celtic Women: Women in Celtic Society & Literature (Trans-Atlantic Publications, 1995).
- Olwen Hufton, The Prospect Before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, 1500-1800 (Knopf, 1996).
- Steven E. Ozment, The Burgermeister's Daughter: Scandal in a Sixteenth-Century German Town (St. Martin's Press, 1996).
- Patricia Crawford and Laura Gowing, eds., Women's Worlds in Seventeenth-Century England: A Sourcebook (Routledge, 2000).
- Judith C. Brown and Robert C. Davis, eds., Gender and Society in Renaissance Italy (Addison Wesley Publishing Company, 1998).
- Natalie Zemon Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (Harvard University Press, 1983).
- Amy Leonard, Nails in the Wall: Catholic Nuns in Reformation Germany (University of Chicago Press, 2005).
- Barbara Taylor and Sarah Knott, Women, Gender and Enlightenment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).
- Lynn Stephan, Zapotec Women: Gender, Class, and Ethnicity in Globalized Oaxaca (Duke University Press, 2005).
- Dorothy Ko, Jahyun Kim Haboush and Joan R. Piggott, Women and Confucian Cultures (University of California Press, 2003).
- Zheng Wang, Women in the Chinese Enlightenment: Oral and Textual Histories (University of California Press, 1999).
- Emily Honig and Gail Hershatter, Personal Voices: Chinese Women in the 1980's (Stanford University Press, 1988).
- Anne E. McLaren, Chinese Women - Living and Working (Routledge Curzon, 2003).
- Ellen Judd, Gender and Power in Rural North China (Stanford University Press, 1994).
- Sharon K. Hom, ed., Chinese Women Traversing Diaspora: Memoirs, Essays, and Poetry (Routledge, 1998).
- Charlotte Furth, A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China's Medical History: 960-1665 (University of California Press, 1999).
- Geraldine Forbes, Women in Modern India (Cambridge University Press,1996).
- Doranne Jacobson and Susan S. Wadley, Women in India: Two Perspectives ( South Asia Books, Third Edition, 1999).
- Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid, Recasting Women: Essays in Indian Colonial History (Rutgers University Press, 1990).
- Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin, Borders & Boundaries: Women in India's Partition (Kali for Women, India, New Edition, 1998).
- Louise Edwards and Mina Roces, Women In Asia: Tradition, Modernity and Globalization (University of Michigan Press, 2000).
- Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949).
- Rebecca Traister, Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women (Free Press, 2010).
- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017). “How did women react when their church embraced polygamy in the 1840s?”
- Jane Sherron De Hart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018): a biography of a great feminist who became a Supreme Court justice.
- Uma Chakravarati, Rewriting History: The Life and Times of Pandita Ramabai (Zubaan Books, 2005): “Pandita Ramabai Saraswati, a scholar, feminist and educator, broke nearly every rule and tradition that confined the life of an upper-caste Hindu woman in 19th-century India.”
- Mary Beth Norton, Separated by Their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World (Cornell University Press, 2011): “Norton, the Mary Donlon Alger professor of history at Cornell, contends that in or about the years between 1640 to 1760 men were increasingly viewed as public beings and women as private ones. Her book presents case studies (in five chapters and four interludes) from both sides of the English-speaking Atlantic world to argue for a fundamental shift in definitions of political capacity.”
- Sarah J. Kramer, ed., I Used To Be Charming: The Rest of Eve Babitz (New York Review Books Classics, 2019): “This collection ought to cement her place among contemporaries like Joan Didion, an early champion of her work, and Pauline Kael, of whom Babitz was a fan.”
- Hossein Kamaly, A History of Islam in 21 Women (One World, 2020): “. . . we hear of the Prophet Muhammad’s wife Khadija, who saw the promise of an orphaned young man and was the first to accept Islam, and the Sufi ascetic Rabia Al-Adawiyya, who insisted that women were the spiritual equals of men. Later on came the Yemeni queen Arwa, who ruled for seven decades and even issued coinage in her own name, and also Noor Inayat Khan, the Sufi-Muslim British spy who went into Nazi-occupied France to radio enemy movements back to Britain.”
On the struggle for gender rights and equality:
- Breanne Fahs, ed., Burn It Down: Feminist Manifestos for the Revolution (Verso, 2020): “Fahs starts out by enumerating a litany of feminist accomplishments only to pair most of them with their backlash.”
- Marion Turner, The Wife of Bath: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2023): “What Can the Wife of Bath Teach Us About Misogyny Today? A new book traces the 'biography' of Geoffrey Chaucer’s most enduring character and her impact on the course of English literature.”
Here are some collections on women in the workforce and related issues.
- Joan Williams, Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It (Oxford University Press, 1999).
- Virginia Valian, Why So Slow?: The Advancement of Women (MIT Press, 1998).
- Harriett B. Presser, Working in a 24/7 Economy: Challenges for American Families (Russell Sage Foundation Publications, 2003).
- Mary Blair-Loy, Competing Devotions: Career and Family among Women Executives (Harvard University Press, 2003).
- Jerry A. Jacobs and Kathleen Gerson, The Time Divide: Work, Family, and Gender Inequality (Harvard UniversityPress), 2004).
- Suzenne M. Bianchi, John P. Robinson and Melissa Milkie, Changing Rhythms of American Family Life (Russell Sage Foundation Publications, 2006).
- Lynn Peril, Swimming in the Steno Pool: A Retro Guide to Making It in the Office (W.W. Norton & Company, 2011): review.
- Anne Kreamer, It’s Always Personal: Emotion in the New Workplace (Random House, 2011): review.
Here are five collections on contemporary issues regarding women and the sciences.
- Yu Xie and Kimberlee A. Shauman, Women in Science: Career Processes and Outcomes (Harvard University Press, 2003).
- Mary Wyer, et. al., eds., Women, Science and Technology: A Reader in Feminist Science Studies (Routledge, 2000).
- Muriel Lederman and Ingrid Bartsch, eds., The Gender and Science Reader (Routledge, 2000). [This is a collection of essays on women and the sciences.]
- Henry Etzkowitz, Carol Kemelgor and Brian Uzzi, Athena Unbound: The Advancement of Women in Science and Technology (Cambridge University Press, 2000).
- Ellen Daniell, Every Other Thursday: Stories and Strategies from Successful Women Scientists (Yale University Press, 2006).
And here are four additional works.
- Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917 (University of Chicago Press, 1995).
- Gail Collins, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of Women from 1960 to the Present (Little, Brown & Company, 2009).
- Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman (Doubleday, 1976).
- Woody Holton, Abigail Adams: A Writing Life (Free Press, 2009).
Here are some personal narratives about gender inequality and oppression.
- Betty Mahmoody, Not Without My Daughter, (San Val, 1993), the biographical narrative of an American woman who refuses to allow her daughter to be entrapped in a life without choices.
- Jean Sasson, Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia (Turtleback, 2001), a story of the life of a "privileged" woman in Saudi Arabia.
- Zana Muhsen, Promise to Nadia: A True Story of a British Slave in the Yemen (Little Brown Book Group, 2000), about a girl sold into slavery by her father.
- Somaly Mam, The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine (Spiegel & Grau, 2009), about a girl sold into forced prostitution at the age of twelve.
- Patricia Miller, Bringing Down the Colonel: A Sex Scandal of the Gilded Age and the “Powerless” Woman Who Took on Washington (Sarah Crichton Books, 2018): “What better time for a story about a prominent man taken totally aback when he discovers that the rules about what he can get away with have changed? During Breckinridge’s trial for breach of promise — a legal concept until the early 20th century enabling a woman to sue a man for breaking his engagement to marry her — one of his lawyers warned the jury that giving Pollard a victory would ‘encourage every strumpet to push her little mass of filth into court.’”
- Andrea Dworkin (Johanna Fateman and Amy Scholder, eds.), The Last Days at Hot Slit: The Radical Feminism of Andrea Dworkin (Semiotext, 2019): “ . . . Andrea Dworkin was fighting a war — one she didn’t choose, she said, but one that the patriarchy had foisted on her. She was determined to show how women could never be free as long as they lived in a world that was structured by men’s ambitions, men’s needs, men’s desires.”
Narratives of sexual harassment:
- Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement (Penguin Press, 2019): “The authors’ new information is less about the man and more about his surround-sound “complicity machine” of board members and lawyers, human resource officers and P.R. flaks, tabloid publishers and entertainment reporters who kept him rampaging with impunity years after his behavior had become an open secret.”
Here are some biographies on women’s rights advocates:
- Megan Marshall, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013): chronicling the life of a nineteenth-century American woman who “campaigned against double standards that starved women’s intelligence and confined them to domesticity.”
Stories about heroic women who did “women’s work”:
- Scholastique Mukasonga, The Barefoot Woman: A Memoir (Archipelago, 2018). The author writes: “‘Mama, I wasn’t there to cover your body, and all I have left is words — words in a language you didn’t understand — to do as you asked. And I’m all alone with my feeble words, and on the pages of my notebook, over and over, my sentences weave a shroud for your missing body.’”
- Lucasta Miller, L.E.L.: The Lost Life and Scandalous Death of Letitia Elizabeth Landon, the Celebrated “Female Byron" (Knopf, 2019): “She wrote in a Romantic idiom that prized discreetly personal artistic expression, but with the vim of a Grub Streeter, producing a true mountain of poems, novels, essays and literary annuals in her short career. Her work was wildly popular . . . ”
Technical and Analytical Readings
An understanding of biology and related sciences as they relate to gender is essential to an understanding of what we can realistically expect, and what we should expect, regarding gender roles in society. Here are some of the leading texts in the field.
- Jill B. Becker, Karen J. Buckley, Nori Geary, Elizabeth Hampson, James P. Herman and Elizabeth Young, Eds., Sex Differences in the Brain: From Genes to Behavior (Oxford University Press, 2007).
- Melissa Hines, Brain Gender (Oxford University Press, 2003).
- Doreen Kimura,Sex and Cognition (MIT Press, 2000).
- David C. Geary,Male, Female: The Evolution of Human Sex Differences (American Psychological Association, 1998).
- Robin Fox, Kinship and Marriage: An Anthropological Perspective (Cambridge University Press, New Impression Edition, 1984).
- Linda Stone, Kinship and Gender: An Introduction (Westview Press, 1997).
- Burton Pasternak, Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember, Sex, Gender, and Kinship: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (Prentice Hall, 1996).
- Sandra Lipsitz Bem, The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality(Yale University Press, 1993).
- Anne Fausto-Sterling,Myths of Gender (Basic Books, 1987).
- Linda Mealey,Sex Differences: Developmental and Evolutionary Strategies (Academic Press, 2000).
- Simon Baron-Cohen, Svetlana Lutchmaya and Rebecca Knickmeyer, Prenatal Testosterone in Mind: Amniotic Fluid Studies (MIT Press, 2004).
- Cordelia Fine, Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017): “She dissects as she goes, bringing a probing intelligence not only to what we believe about gender, and why it’s often wrong, but also to the history of how we came to think it was so.”
Documentary and Educational Films
- Working Girls, a film about the lives of intelligent and highly educated women in Manhattan who turn to prostitution to survive
- Working Girls Leanne and Marie
- Half the Sky, a documentary about courageous women confronting gender-based crimes
- The Invisible War, on “the epidemic of rape within our US military”
- Women’s rights in the Middle East
- Women’s rights in Bangladesh
- “I am woman’s rights”
Film and Stage
- Satyajit Ray’s "Two Daughters" presents a slice of life from each of two Indian females.
- Water tells the story of an eight-year-old widow (a shocking idea in itself) in late colonial India who, per the ancient Laws of Manu prohibiting remarriage of widows (see especially section 65), faces the rest of her days in squalor. Though the film suggests progress with the passage of recent laws allowing widows to marry, 34 million widows continue to live in deprivation as a result of this ancient custom. In India, protests by Hindu fundamentalists shut down the filming, which was shot four years later in Sri Lanka. Filmmaker Deepa Mehta deserves credit not only for an emotionally wrenching film, rich in sight and sound, but also for completing the project in the face of opposition.
- Tess, “a lovely, lyrical, unexpectedly delicate movie” telling “the story of a beautiful young girl, innocent but not without intelligence, and the way she is gradually destroyed by the exercise of male ego”
- Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore is a film about a working class woman making it on her own in the 1970s in the United States.
- The Color Purple is a brilliantly told story about the lives of black women in an American family.
- Fried Green Tomatoes, a story of four women supporting each other - at a certain cost.
- Raise the Red Lantern, a tragic story about a woman who dared to have her own mind
- Whale Rider, a fantasy about the power of a young girl.
- Thelma and Louise, a story of two women who would rather die than submit
- Ruby in Paradise, about a young woman struggling to establish her identity
- My Twentieth Century: this “allegorical statement about the status of women in the modern mechanical age” tells a story of twin girls who are separated early in life, whose lives take remarkably different paths
- The Lady Eve, “a scintillating battle of the sexes” in the genre of romantic comedy
- Tootsie, about an unsuccessful actor who makes a successful acting career as a woman
- Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen Seele auf): a Fassbinder film about the bigotry and racial prejudice encountered by a German woman in her sixties who marries a Moroccan man in his thirties
- Meshes of the Afternoon, an “18-minute feminist classic (exploring) the interior images of a woman”
- Bandit Queen, about Phoolan Devi, an Indian woman who used violent means in response to oppression of woman and the poor in India
- Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, on the profound unfairness of Israeli marriage and divorce laws
- Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891).
- Patricia McCormick, Sold (Hyperion Book CH, 2006), about a thirteen-year-old girl sold into prostitution by her stepfather.
- Alice Walker, The Color Purple (Perfection Learning, 1986).
- Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns (Riverhead Books, 2007), about the abuse of women in Afghanistan.
- V. R. Main, A Woman With No Clothes On (Delancey Press, 2009), about a young woman's aspirations to be a painter instead of a model.
- Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986), a novel about how women often are seen for their value as baby-makers.
- Doris May Lessing, The Golden Notebook (1962), about why a feminist movement is necessary.
- H. G. Wells, Ann Veronica (1909), Wells' early treatment of feminism.
- Anna Quindlen, Still Life With Bread Crumbs (Random House, 2014): “a generous and moving interrogation of women’s experience across the lines of class and race.”
- Jennifer Weiner, Mrs. Everything: A Novel (Atria Books, 2019): “Twenty years ago, all I could see was how my mother’s choices had hurt me. Now I can see all the ways the world hurt her — the chances she didn’t have, the doors she couldn’t open.”
- Deborah Levy, The Man Who Saw Everything: A Novel (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019): “ . . . Levy looks at masculinity through the point of view of Saul, a proud defector who sneers at ‘authoritarian old men’ like his father and the regimes they create, their dependence on walls, imaginative and real.”
- Abi Daré, The Girl With the Louding Voice: A Novel (Dutton, 2020): “. . . Adunni’s brave, fresh voice powerfully articulates a resounding anger toward Africa’s toxic patriarchy.”
- Anne Tyler, French Braid: A Novel (Knopf, 2022), “looks squarely at the consequences of stifled female ambition — to the woman herself, and to those in her orbit.”
- Cho Nam-Joo, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982: A Novel (Liveright, 2020), about misogyny in South Korea, it “ignited what Cho Nam-Joo called 'a public debate' around gender and inequality.”
- Fernanda Melchor, Hurricane Season: A Novel (New Directions, 2020): its “subject is the inner life of misogynist violence and the collective mythmaking that sanctions such crimes or makes them disappear.”
- Ivy Pochoda, These Woman: A Novel (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2020): “Women are dying at an alarming rate on the streets of Los Angeles . . . but nobody is paying much attention: They are sex workers, street people, marginal citizens of color. But if women are the victims in this intricate, deeply felt, beautifully written novel, they are also its heroes.”
- Salvador Dali, The Architectonic Angelus of Millet (1933)
- Salvador Dali, Angelus (1932)
- Pavel Filonov, Man and Woman (1912-13)
- Joan Miró, Femme III (1965)
- Edgar Degas, Spartan Girls Challenging Boys (1860-62)
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
The first notable composer in what is broadly known as Western classical music was Benedictine nun Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), whose works are presented under other headings on this site. The role of gender in music history is a subject of extensive scholarship. Some composers and their works are discussed and linked below.
Ethyl Smyth (1858-1944) was informed by her experience as a lesbian. Her compositions include:
- Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra (1927) (approx. 27’)
- Mass in D (1891) (approx. 61’)
- The Wreckers Overture (1906) (approx. 10’)
- Serenade in D (1889) (approx. 38’)
- Cello Sonata in A minor, Op. 5 (1887) (approx. 21’)
- String Quartet in E minor (1887) (approx. 41’)
- Violin Sonata, Op. 7 (1887) (approx. 24’)
Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre’s (1665-1729) father made sure that his daughter had opportunities in the family business of music. Her compositions include:
- Pièces de Clavecin; also here
- “Céphale et Procris”
- Cantates françoises, Premiere Livre
- Harpsichord Suites 1-6
Other notable female composers whose works are mainly unrepresented elsewhere herein include (with links to representative works):
- Francesca Caccini (1587-1640) (sacred and secular songs)
- Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) (Cappella Meditterranea)
- Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704) (12 Sonatas, Op. 16)
- Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) (symphonies; also here)
- Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847) (various works)
- Clara Schumann (1819-1896) (piano works – she was a widely renowned piano virtuoso)
- Teresa Carreño (1853-1917) (piano works)
- Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944) (various works)
- Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) (viola sonata; cello sonata; piano trio)
- Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983) (chamber and piano music)
- Lili Boulanger (1883-1918) (Clairiènes dans le ciel) (Clearings In the Sky)
- Anne Dudley (1956-) (“Songs from the Victorious City” album)
- Jocelyn Pook (1960-) (“Untold Things” album)
- Rachel Portman (1960-) (film soundtracks)
- Debbie Wiseman (1963-) (music for film and television)
- Roxanna Panufnik (1968-) (string quartet, “Heartfelt”)
Cosi fan tutte (Women Are Like That, or The School for Lovers) (1789) (150-210’) (libretto) is a playful opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that tells a humorous story about relations between men and women. The essential idea is “they’re all like that.” Live video-recorded performances have been conducted by Böhm, Muti, Cambreling and Gardiner. Top audio-recorded performances are conducted by Busch in 1935, Karajan in 1954, Böhm in 1955, Böhm in 1962, Lombard in 1977, Davis in 1981, Östman in 1984, Levine in 1988, and Jacobs in 1998 ***.
- Nate Wooley, “Seven Storey Mountain VI” (2020) (45’), an album of electronic music commemorating the epic abuse of women, by men. “. . . Wooley writes in the album booklet, ‘Religious dogma holds little interest for me.’ Instead, the aesthetics and fellowship of Christianity become a vessel for condemning patriarchy’s treatment of women, one of the many fascinating knots in his composition’s skein.” Here is a live performance.
- Roxy Cross, “The Future Is Female” (2018) (50’)
- Syssi Mananga, “Mopepe Mama” (2021) (48’), a tribute to womanhood: “The title track of Syssi Mananga’s captivating second album is an autobiographical ballad of freedom and motherhood, one concept pulling toward exploration, the other toward roots. Mopepe means ‘wind’ in Lingala and the singer-songwriter is an amalgam of the boundaries she traverses as easily as the breeze and lineages she nourishes within.”
- Imany (Nadia Mladjao), “The Wrong Kind of War” (2016), a personal-feminist manifesto
Music: songs and other short pieces
Feminist songs and anthems, from a Billboard list and a Harper’s Bazaar list:
- Mona Haydar, “Wrap My Hijab”
- Destiny’s Child, “Independent Women”
- MILCK, “Quiet”
- Play, “Cinderella”
- Kesha, “Woman”
- Beyoncé, “Flawless”
- Beyoncé, “Run the World (Girls)”
- No Doubt, “Just a Girl”
- Eurythmics, “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves”
- Hayley Kiyoko, “Girls Like Girls”
- Bikini Kill, “Rebel Girl”
- Christina Aguilera, “Can’t Hold Us Down”
- First Aid Kit, “You Are the Problem Here”
- Lily Allen, “Hard Out Here”
- Tacocat, “Men Explain Things to Me”
- Janet Jackson, “Nasty”
- Janelle Monáe and Eryka Badu, “U.E.E.N.”
- Janelle Monáe, “Pynk”
- Chaka Khan, “I’m Every Woman”
- Lion Babe, “Wonder Woman”
- Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, “Reputation”
- Ibeyi, “No Man Is Big Enough for My Arms”
- Leslie Gore, “You Don’t Own Me” (This is better.)
- Alicia Keys, “Girl on Fire”
- Lady Gaga, “Born This Way”
- Solange, “Don’t Touch My Hair”
- Mary J. Blige, “Just Fine”
- Queen Latifah, “N.I.T.Y.”
- TLC, “No Scrubs”
- Summer Walker, “Girls Need Love”
- Courtney Barnett, “Nameless, Faceless”
- OkayKaya, “Asexual Wellbeing”
- Rico Nasty, “Poppin’”
- Shania Twain, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”
- Soccer Mommy, “Your Dog”
The following songs on gender identity are drawn from a Billboard article:
- The Kinks, “Lola”
- The Replacements, “Androgynous”
- Ezra Furman, “Body Was Made”
- Arcadia Fire, “We Exist”
- Garbage, “Cherry Lips”
- Lou Reed, “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”
- Christine and the Queens, “iT”
- Blur, “Girls & Boys”
- The Lunachicks, “ Lady”
- Green Day, “King for a Day”
- Pink Floyd, “Arnold Layne”
- Jillette Johnson, “Cameron”
- Hole, “My Beautiful Son”
- Suzanne Vega, “As Girls Go”
- David Bowie, “Rebel, Rebel”
- Shea Diamond, “I Am Her”
- Against Me!, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”
- Bad Suns, “Salt”
- Namoli Brennet, “Thorn in Your Side”
- Antony and the Johnsons, “For Today I Am a Boy”
- Goldfrapp, “Annabel”
- The Waterboys, “A Girl Called Johnny”
- Mina Caputo, “Identity”
- Terrorvision, “Josephine”