Woodhull Freedom Foundation has been working to affirm sexual freedom as a human right since 2003, but it wasn’t until 2001 that Washington, D.C. officially announced September 23 as “Sexual Freedom Day.” So 2019 marks 10 years of officially celebrating sexual freedom. That’s why we’re extending our celebration to a whole week.
If our movement for sexual freedom is going to be powerful, it has to look, feel, smell, taste, and sound like liberation. Today, we’re focusing on the “sound” part. We’re celebrating by highlighting 10 songs that exemplify sexual freedom, one from each year since Sexual Freedom Day was declared. (There are, of course, many many more, so feel free to share your sexual freedom anthems with us on social media using #SexualFreedomWeek).
2010 – Rihanna, S&M
We don’t think it’s a coincidence that Rihanna’s “S&M” was released the same year that Sexual Freedom Day was announced. With lyrics like, “Chains and whips excite me” and “Sex in the air/I don’t care/I love the smell of it,” Rihanna brought a taste of BDSM into mainstream pop music.
2011 – Lady Gaga, Born this Way
There are so many Lady Gaga songs that celebrate sexual freedom, it was hard to choose. This song was a LGBTQ anthem in 2011. “no matter gay, straight, or bi/Lesbian, transgendered life/I’m on the right track baby/I was born to survive.” It’s a song that Lady Gaga has said she wants to be remembered for. Mission accomplished.
2012 – MARINA, Sex Yeah
An early release of this song titled it “Free Sex,” so of course we had to include it. This is more a song about freeing ourselves from rigid gender roles, set to a catchy electropop background. Marina sings, “If history could set you free/From who you were supposed to be/If sex in our society/Didn’t tell a girl who she would be.” Sexual freedom includes the ability to define and express your gender on your terms. “Sex, Yeah,” is a song that embraces that.
2013- Ciara, Body Party
The minute this song was released, everybody had the same question: What is a body party? Well, according to Ciara it’s when you are dancing with someone and your bodies touch. She says you can have a body party of one, too. And you’ll probably want to, after listening to this sexy 2013 hit.
2014- Nicki Minaj (ft. Beyoncé), Feeling Myself
Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé join together for this self-love anthem. With a chorus that just repeats: “I’m feelin’ myself” over and over again, there’s no way to misinterpret what this power duo are saying. We want more sexual freedom anthems that focus on self-pleasure, but for now, we’ll just listen to this on repeat.
2015- Gia Woods, Only a Girl
This breakout song was a breakout in more than one way. Gia Woods came out to her family (and the rest of the world) with this steamy song celebrating her sexuality. “Only a girl/Knows how a girl feels/Only a girl/Can make me feel this way.” In an interview with Billboard, Gia said “I’m freeing everyone from their inhibitions.” We’re ready for that kind of freedom.
2016- Demi Lovato, Body Say
We stan Demi Lovato for so many reasons. She is unapologetic and open about her struggles, using her platform to build power and make change on a social and political level. We also love her for this sultry song celebrating sexual freedom. She’s not playing games. She comes right out and says it: “I want your sex.” In an interview with Glamour, Demi said she felt “liberated” writing explicitly about sex. And we feel closer to liberation listening to it.
2017- Selena Gomez, Fetish
Selena sings, “If I were you I’d do me too/You’ve got a fetish for my love.” This song was on everyone’s 2017 playlists, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s catchy, sensual, and dreamy. And while Selena went for a different direction in the video, but we definitely have a fetish for this song.
2018- Janelle Monáe, PYNK
Choosing a Janelle Monáe song from her 2018 album “Dirty Computer” was hard. “Django Jane,” “Make Me Feel,” “I Got the Juice,” and “I Like That.” There were so many to choose from. But “PYNK” became iconic the moment it dropped. It was genre bending as much as it was gender- and sexuality-bending. PYNK is a celebration of sexual freedom that we can all get behind.
2019- Lizzo, Better in Color
Lizzo is a gift for sexual freedom and self-love. “Better in Color” from Lizzo’s most recent album, “Cuz I Love You,” is a clear signal to sexual freedom. Across race (“Black, white, ebony/All sound good to me” and “You can be my lover/’Cause love looks better in color”) and sexuality (“Rainbow smitten/It’s easy baby, got the whole world for the pickin’),” Lizzo is embracing a vision of sexual freedom that’s for all of us.