Over the years, a handful of feminist anthems arose in the music industry:
These songs, as well as others, paved the way for more vocalization from female artists in the industry. These artists, Lesley Gore, Lily Allen, Kesha, Beyoncé, and Halsey, have crafted specific messages within their lyrics. Some preached body positivity, confidence, and strength. Some addressed inequality, struggles, and the expectations society has for little girls and women. Some discussed the misogynistic views of both femininity and the female body. Therefore, each song has a reason why it’s a feminist anthem. Presently, Dua Lipa’s “Boys Will Be Boys” joins this list of powerful, truth-telling, feminist songs. Similar to the females before her, there are reasons why Dua Lipa’s song is a feminist anthem. In fact, it’s the feminist anthem we need.
“Boys Will Be Boys” tackles the sexual harassment and confrontation from men that women face in their daily lives. In the first verse, Dua Lipa sings, “It’s second nature to walk home before the sun goes down/ And put your keys between your knuckles when there’s boys around/.” Essentially, Lipa illustrates the deeply ingrained actions many women have to perform, to protect themselves and arrive home safely; or to any destination for that matter.
We don’t walk outdoors if it’s dark outside, and we bring objects such as keys and pepper spray with us for protection. This ensures the possibility of safety from men in the shadows. Men who follow us, stalking. Men who make us feel uncomfortable. Men who disrespect us. Men who confront us. Men who sexually harass us.
Dua Lipa continues with, “Isn’t it funny how we laugh it off to hide our fear/ When there’s nothin’ funny here?” Many women experience sexual harassment or confrontation from men when they go out in public. When we’re walking home, when we’re trying to get to class, when we’re heading into work, when we’re going into shops, and when we’re getting out of cars- just to name a few. We all have variations of the same stories. However, women are conditioned to simply laugh it off with a shrug of the shoulders. Perhaps we were supposed to feel flattered? Perhaps we were supposed to smile? To laugh? To enjoy it? After all, it wasn’t a big deal. Meanwhile, we’re visibly and uncontrollably shaking. We’re crying. We’re anxious and uncomfortable from the unpleasant, unwanted interaction.
This portion of the first verse highlights the truth of what it is like to be a woman in society. It illuminates what we encounter, what we endure, and what we execute in order to obtain a false sense of security. It’s difficult to be a woman whose experiences revolve around men and the actions of these men. Lipa makes women’s realities and struggles vocal in “Boys Will Be Boys,” with a catchy tune in the background.
Dua Lipa also sings, “We hide our figures, doin’ anythin’ to shut their mouths.” In this line, Lipa alludes to the need, not the choice, for women to wear clothing that conceals their figures. This need arises because of our interactions or experiences with men. The fact is, women do not hide their bodies for fashion sense. We conceal our bodies to silence the catcalling and harassment we experience when our figures are visible. The whistles, the screams, the shouts, the vulgarity, the objectification. It isn’t welcome. When we are victims of the male gaze, it makes us women feel dirty, naked, exposed, and distressed. We are not objects for men. We do not exist for their pleasure. Thus, we shut the mouths of these harassing men by covering our bodies with fabric.
Dua Lipa resumes the conversation of harassment and catcalling in the next line: “We smile away to ease the tension so it don’t go south.” Here, Dua Lipa acknowledges that women perform a specific action to remain safe; similar to when they place their keys between their knuckles. In this situation, women simply smile at the cat-callers. This action ensures that the harassers do not become angered, more aggressive, or possibly violent. Therefore, women are safe, but only in a sense. After all, we are still cat-called.
In the lines, “We hide our figures, doin’ anythin’ to shut their mouths/We smile away to ease the tension so it don’t go south,” Lipa further examines and reveals what women are forced to do in situations of harassment by men. Our actions are dictated by men and their decisions to harass in whichever form they decide. Women cannot wear the clothes they truly want to wear, and they cannot utilize their powerful voices. Women rely on loose clothes and smiles. These experiences, actions, and behaviors all revolve around men and how they treat women.
Perhaps one of the smallest and simplest lines in the chorus is also one of the most fervent lines: Dua Lipa chants, “Boys will be, boys will be/Boys will be, boys will be boys/But girls will be women.” Within this chant, Lipa references the common phrase, “boys will be boys.” This phrase is used to justify, accept, and approve the behavior of men. It’s okay, unsurprising, and ordinary that men behave in aggressive manners. There are no repercussions, punishments, or consequences to their behavior. Interestingly enough, Dua Lipa alters the phrase so that listeners see the juxtaposition between men and women. When she chants the powerful phrase, “But girls will be women,” Lipa addresses women’s truths, their lives, and their experiences. As women, the encounters, sexual harassment, and confrontations we have with men, force us to grow up quickly. Additionally, unlike men, our behaviors are not chalked up to natural tendencies. Women don’t get a pass like men do.
While there are plenty more lyrics to analyze in Dua Lipa’s “Boys Will Be Boys,” these handful of lines confirm that this is the feminist anthem we all need. “Boys Will Be Boys” addresses the sexual harassment, encounters, and confrontations many women experience from men on a daily basis. This song also highlights the actions women take to protect themselves during these situations, and how many of these actions are forced upon us because of men. Lastly, “Boys Will Be Boys,” illuminates women’s truths, and reveals that a lot of our experiences revolve around men. But, through this song we can claim our power.
You can listen to Dua Lipa’s “Boys Will Be Boys” here.