Over the years I’ve realised this song has had more impact on me than eleven-year-old-me could’ve realised when it was released in the summer of 2003 and I was dancing along to it at school discos.
That’s the great thing about Can’t Hold Us Down, it’s got a great beat to dance to and a chorus you can shout along with. But when you listen to the lyrics it’s actually about something a lot bigger.
Can’t Hold Us Down is an R&B and hip-hop song that criticises gender-related double standards when it comes to sex. This is a song I’ve liked since I was eleven, and probably didn’t have any real idea as to what the lyrics are about, or how the double standards could affect my life as I got older. It’s not just about the double standards with sex, but also the idea that some men just won’t listen to a woman, because she’s a woman.
The first lines are “So what am I not supposed to have an opinion, Should I keep quiet just because I’m a women” and there’s been some situations when I’ve felt like I couldn’t express myself or my ideas were shot down but then a man has said the same thing and it’s been accepted like the best idea ever. It’s frustrating and sometime upsetting.
When I need some extra motivation or belief in my abilities, I listen to this song. When it feels like what I’m trying to do (however big or small) is not seen as worth-while, this song makes me feel stronger and more capable – I will succeed in what I want and I won’t be silenced.