For some reason, women that sing about sex – about enjoying it and about wanting it – get the short end of the stick. Society always finds ways of critiquing and ostracizing these singers, putting them in boxes and suggesting that they can only be one thing. If a woman sings about sex, then she can’t be “serious,” and she can’t sing love songs.
Icons and trailblazers such as Madonna and Lil’ Kim have made it clear from the get-go that women can be different things. They can be sexual and romantic, and both aren’t mutually exclusive. Even though female pop stars have existed for a really long time, it’s still groundbreaking to see female artists who say fuck it, and who sing about whatever they want to sing about. It shouldn’t be newsworthy, but it is.
Billboard compiled a list of some of the world’s most iconic female pop stars who aren’t afraid of singing about sex.
Here are 7 of our favorites:
You might not have noticed, but the lyrics “Boy, you got me walking side to side” refer to the amount of sex she’s having, which is so much that she can’t even walk straight. Jeez.
You may be surprised about all the implicit sexuality in Britney’s music; at least I was. It’s great to rediscover her music through the lens of a sort of grown-up, because you’ll laugh about all the times you sang “I’m a Slave for U” when you had no clue what was going on. “Touch my Hand” is clearly about masturbation, and “Breathe on Me” is like, super sexual—don’t come at us.
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Cardi B took the world by storm with her incredible rapping style and her raunchy and honest lyrics that can make anyone blush.
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Janet Jackson is awesome, singing songs about love, sex, masturbation, and anything else you can think of. Songs like “My Need,” “Take Care,” and “If,” will always hold an important place in pop culture because of their honesty, innovation, and great sound. Also, her freaking iconic music videos.
While preaching for body positivism, faith, and the LGBTQ community, Lady Gaga has always managed to sneak in a lot of sex and self love. “Dancing in Circles” is not about dancing, and Disco Stick is clearly a thinly veiled metaphor for something else. You can probably find a sexual reference in every Lady Gaga song there is, and that’s awesome.
Rihanna has never shied away from sex, be that through songs that suggest she enjoys whips and chains, through the iconic lyrics of “Cake,” or in”Cockiness,” where she refers to herself as a dominatrix. With so much variety, it’s hard to pick just one song that’s our favorite.
In her last two albums, Selena Gomez has made incredible leaps in getting some distance from her former Disney self, singing sultry and seductive songs about fetishes and submissiveness. Taking a different approach than other female artists who believe that the only way to be empowered is to be in control, Gomez sings about looking beautiful for her love and letting it all go so they can finally get some. None of this is explicit but, come on, you’ve heard the song.