You Don't Own Me

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"You Don't Own Me"
Lesley Gore - You Don't Own Me.jpg
Single by Lesley Gore
from the album Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts
B-side"Run Bobby, Run"
ReleasedDecember 11, 1963
RecordedSeptember 21, 1963
Producer(s)Quincy Jones
Lesley Gore singles chronology
"She's a Fool"
"You Don't Own Me"
"That's the Way Boys Are"

"You Don't Own Me" is a popular song written by Philadelphia songwriters John Madara and David White and recorded by Lesley Gore in 1963, when Gore was 17 years old. The song was Gore's second most successful recording and her last top-ten single. On November 27, 2016, along with 24 other songs, the Grammy Hall of Fame announced its induction.[1]

The song was shocking in 1963 for its anti-patriarchal stance, showing the power of one woman to deny the wishes of a man. Since then, the song has been hailed as an early feminist anthem.[2] In 2015, singer Grace took Gore's song to No. 1 in Australia with a version featuring rapper G-Eazy.[3]


The song expresses emancipation, as the singer tells a lover that he does not own her, that he cannot tell her what to do or what to say, and that he is not to put her on display. The song's lyrics became an inspiration for younger women and are sometimes cited as a factor in the second wave feminist movement.[4]

Gore said, "My take on the song was: I'm 17, what a wonderful thing, to stand up on a stage and shake your finger at people and sing you don't own me."[5] In Gore's obituary, The New York Times referred to "You Don't Own Me" as "indelibly defiant".[6]

Cash Box described it as "a throbbing, multi-track, ballad-with-a-beat on which [Gore] emotionally declares her independence."[7]

Chart performance[edit]

The song reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. The song remained at number two for three consecutive weeks, beginning on February 1, 1964, unable to overcome the Beatles' hit "I Want to Hold Your Hand". It became Gore's second most successful hit after "It's My Party". The song was Gore's last top-ten single.[8][9]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1964) Peak


US (Billboard Hot 100)[10] 2
US (Cashbox Top 100)[11] 2
Australia (Kent Music Report) 4
Canada (CHUM Hit Parade)[12] 5
New Zealand (Listener)[13] 2
Sweden[14] 9

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1964) Peak


US (Billboard Year-End Hot 100)[15] 36
US (Cashbox Year-End Top 100)[16] 42
Brazil[17] 47

Later comparative criticism[edit]

After the success of "You Don't Own Me", many of Lesley Gore's other songs, including "That's the Way Boys Are", were eventually compared to it and criticized for not coming up to feminist expectations. Of "That's the Way Boys Are", author Richard Aquila noted that the lyrics "voice the era's acceptance of sexual double standards," in contrast with the theme of Gore's previous single, "You Don't Own Me".[18] Aquila regards "That's the Way Boys Are" as one of several examples of Lesley Gore songs that regard women as dependents or passive objects, along with earlier singles "It's My Party" and "Judy's Turn to Cry."[18] Musicologist Walter Everett described "That's the Way Boys Are" as one of the many 1960s sexist songs that "perpetuated a boys-will-be-boys tolerance for male but not female infidelity."[19] Music critic Greil Marcus also remarked on the way "That's the Way Boys Are" backs off from the "proto-feminist manifesto" of "You Don't Own Me" to a message of "he may treat you like garbage, but they're all like that, and we love 'em for it!"[20]

On 14–21 August 1965, Patty Duke peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100 with "Don't Just Stand There", which sounds very similar to "You Don't Own Me".[21]

Grace version[edit]

"You Don't Own Me"
You Don't Own Me (featuring G-Eazy) (Official Single Cover) by Grace.png
Single by Grace featuring G-Eazy
from the EP Memo and the album FMA
ReleasedMarch 17, 2015 (2015-03-17)
Saygrace singles chronology
"You Don't Own Me"
"Dirty Harry"
G-Eazy singles chronology
"Fuck with U"
"You Don't Own Me"
"You Got Me"

The song was covered by Australian singer and songwriter Grace and was released as her debut single. It features American rapper G-Eazy. Grace's version was produced by Quincy Jones, who also produced the original recording by Lesley Gore, and Parker Ighile. It was released on March 17, 2015, one month after Lesley Gore's death, and peaked at number one on the ARIA Charts, later being certified 3× Platinum by the ARIA.[22] The song was also a success in New Zealand, peaking at number five for two consecutive weeks, and in the United Kingdom, peaking at number four.

In an interview with House of Fraser, Grace said, "[Quincy Jones] told me how the song came out during the feminist movement and how it was such a strong statement. I loved the song, started researching Lesley Gore and fell in love with her as an artist. [You Don't Own Me] really inspired me."[23]

The song was released worldwide on August 17, 2015. It grew to prominence in the UK when it was used in the 2015 House of Fraser Christmas advert.[23] It was also performed by The X Factor contestant Lauren Murray in 2015 and Matt Terry in 2016. The increased exposure for the song helped it rise to a peak of number four on the UK Singles Chart. The song was featured in the third trailer for the 2016 film Suicide Squad [24] and appeared on the film's soundtrack album.[25]

The song was featured in the opening of Riverdale's eighth episode in March 2017, as well as the background music for the 2018 Ford Mustang GT commercial, with Helen Hunt and Evan Rachel Wood.

A music video directed by Taylor Cohen was released on June 1, 2015.[26]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2015–2016) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[27] 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[28] 55
Belgium (Ultratip Bubbling Under Flanders)[29] 42
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[30] 45
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[31] 52
France (SNEP)[32] 182
Hungary (Single Top 40)[33] 32
Ireland (IRMA)[34] 13
Italy (FIMI)[35] 89
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[36] 5
Portugal (AFP)[37] 62
Scotland (OCC)[38] 3
Slovakia (Rádio Top 100)[39] 50
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[40] 38
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[41] 19
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[42] 60
UK Singles (OCC)[43] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[44] 57
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[45] 22

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2015) Position
Australia (ARIA)[46] 26
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[47] 43
Chart (2016) Position,
Iceland (Plötutíóindi)[48] 49
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[49] 87


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[50] 4× Platinum 280,000double-dagger
Canada (Music Canada)[51] 2× Platinum 160,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[52] Gold 45,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[53] Gold 25,000double-dagger
Mexico (AMPROFON)[54] Gold 30,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[55] Platinum 15,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[56] 2× Platinum 40,000double-dagger
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[57] Gold 15,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[58] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[59] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Other notable covers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kreps, Daniel (November 26, 2016). "Nirvana, Bowie, R.E.M. Songs Among Grammy Hall of Fame's 2017 Inductees". Rolling Stone. New York City.
  2. ^ Chilla, Mark (March 4, 2022). "Shout, Sister, Shout: The Great American Songbook's Feminist Anthems". Afterglow. Indiana Public Media. Retrieved April 11, 2022.
  3. ^ Ulaby, Neda (June 26, 2019). "'You Don't Own Me,' A Feminist Anthem With Civil Rights Roots, Is All About Empathy". NPR. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  4. ^ Stos, Will (2012). "Bouffants, Beehives, and Breaking Gender Norms: Rethinking 'Girl Group' Music of the 1950s and 1960s". Journal of Popular Music Studies. 24 (2): 117–154. doi:10.1111/j.1533-1598.2012.01322.x.
  5. ^ "Biography - Lesley Gore". Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  6. ^ "Lesley Gore, Teenage Voice of Heartbreak, Dies at 68". The New York Times. February 16, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  7. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. December 21, 1963. p. 8. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
  8. ^ Richie Unterberger. "You Don't Own Me - Lesley Gore | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
  9. ^ "You Don't Own Me Song Facts". Retrieved 2016-09-27.
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  12. ^ "Chum Hit Parade". February 3, 1964.
  13. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search lever". Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  14. ^ "Lesley Gore - Se alla låtar och listplaceringar". NostalgiListan (in Swedish). Retrieved 2021-12-14.
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  19. ^ Everett, W. (2008). The foundations of rock: from "Blue suede shoes" to "Suite : Judy blue eyes". Oxford University Press. p. 366. ISBN 978-0-19-531023-8.
  20. ^ Marcus, G. (1999). In the fascist bathroom: punk in pop music, 1977-1992. Harvard University Press. pp. 217–218. ISBN 978-0-674-44577-2.
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