The Willis test of sexist lyrics (for heterosexual love songs)

The Ellen Willis Test of Sexist Lyrics (for heterosexual love songs):


"A crude but often revealing method of assessing male bias in lyrics is to take a song written by a man about a woman and reverse the sexes. By this test, a diatribe like "Under My Thumb" is not nearly so sexist in its implications as, for example, Cat Stevens's gentle, sympathetic "Wild World"; Jagger's fantasy of sweet revenge could easily be female—in fact, it has a female counterpart, Nancy Sinatra's "Boots"—but it's hard to imagine a woman sadly warning her ex-lover that he's too innocent for the big bad world out there." (Willis 2011:136)


Ellen Willis, from "But Now I'm Gonna Move" (October 1971), page 135-139

Out of the Vinyl Deeps, University of Minnesota Press, 2011.