Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"I Am Woman"



"I Am Woman"

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore,
And I know too much to go back and pretend
'cause I've heard it all before,
And I've been down there on the floor,
And no one's ever gonna keep me down again.

Oh, yes, I am wise,
But it's wisdom born of pain.
Yes, I've paid the price,
But look how much I gained.
If I have to, I can do anything.
I am strong (strong).
I am invincible (invincible).
I am woman.

You can bend but never break me,
'cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal.
And I come back even stronger,
Not a novice any longer,
'cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul.

Oh, yes, I am wise,
But it's wisdom born of pain.
Yes, I've paid the price,
But look how much I gained.
If I have to, I can do anything.
I am strong (strong).
I am invincible (invincible).
I am woman.

I am woman watch me grow.
See me standing toe to toe,
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land.
But I'm still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand.

Oh yes I am wise,
But it's wisdom born of pain.
Yes, I've paid the price,
But look how much I gained.
If I have to I can face anything.
I am strong (strong).
I am invincible (invincible).
I am woman.

Oh, I am woman. (I am woman.)
I am invincible.
I am strong.
I am woman. (I am woman.)

I can't believe I haven't thought of this song until yesterday.  I've been involved in the Women Unbound reading challenge for two months – TWO MONTHS – and had not thought about the song that hit me like a ton of bricks the first time I heard it.  Released in 1972, "I Am Woman" became the anthem for the women's liberation movement.  That was the year I made up my mind about getting a divorce, though that was a scary thing for a mother of three who was still trying to finish a college degree.

I remember I was in the car, listening to music, about to leave the downtown area of Chattanooga on my way home. I was in the right lane, stopped at the light beside the Read House, when "I Am Woman" came on the radio. I was so excited and energized by the song that, when the light changed, I turned right -- instead of going home -- and circled a couple of blocks to get to the music store on Cherry Street.  I parked, put money in the meter, and went inside. The folks there had never heard of the song and, anyway, it would take awhile for the sheet music to come out, they informed me, looking at me like I was crazy. And I was crazy! I wanted those lyrics, I wanted that music, I wanted to sing! Oh, how I wanted that feeling of being strong! Invincible! WOMAN!

Yes, I certainly understand how "I Am Woman" became the anthem for the women's liberation movement in the 1970s.

Just as "Sister Suffragette" epitomizes for me the first wave of feminism – as women fought for the right to vote, "I Am Woman" embodies the second wave – when women fought for legal rights and equality with men.  According to some of what I've been reading, we are now in the third wave.  Does anyone have any ideas about what song might inspire today's young women?

2 comments:

alisonwonderland said...

I feel inspired every time I hear this song!

I wrote a blog post about it almost two years ago (here). I think I'm going to have to post about it again in the context of Women Unbound.

I asked my 13yo daughter your question to see if anything came to her mind. She said "This One's for the Girls" by Martina McBride. Not a bad response, I think.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

The video has been removed, but here's an alternate version of it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybk5sNZ2oXk

And here's an interesting version, showing "the evolution" of the song, from Reddy's demo record, through its various incarnations, including a later jazz version:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybk5sNZ2oXk&feature=related