10 Most Sexist Rolling Stones Songs
Yes, you read that right. Not “sexy,” but “sexist.” The Rolling Stones have never been shy about their sexuality — many of their best-known songs positively drip with lust — and on numerous occasions, they’ve let their alpha-male tendencies get the better of them and come off sounding completely misogynistic. What follow are 10 of the most egregious examples of Mick, Keef and the gang crossing the lines of decency.
‘Start Me Up’
Although it’s been co-opted by the sports world as a rousing pregame pick-me-up, ‘Start Me Up’ is pretty damned sexist when you do a deep-dive of the lyrics. You could read it as being about having sex — Sting-like Tantra lovemaking with a partner of choice. But when Mick Jagger changes the chorus lyric “You make a grown man cry” to “You make a dead man come” in the final line, it’s a little less than flattering.
The album opener on the Stones’ 1971 masterpiece ‘Sticky Fingers,’ ‘Brown Sugar’ is just about as straightforward a song about sex as you’ll find. And the way its lyrics objectify young black women make for one of the most sexist statements in rock history. Sure, you can interpret this tune as being about heroin, too, but with lyrics like “Brown sugar / How come you taste so good? / Just like a black girl should,” it’s sort of undeniable.
‘She’s So Cold’
When this one comes on classic rock radio, you’ve got to laugh. It’s all in Mick Jagger’s phrasing, which is not unlike the xylophone part in ‘Under My Thumb.’ It’s sneaky — like he knows he’s saying some really sexist stuff, but it feels good, at least to him, to get it out. Well guess what, Mick: You’re not doing yourself any favors with the subject of this song. “Put your hand on the heat … [and] let’s go.” Ugh. “I’m the burning bush / I’m the bleeding volcano.” Ouch.
As Queen Latifah once asked, rather incredulously, “Who you callin’ a bitch?” Well, apparently, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (who sings lead on the track) are cool with comparing rock ‘n’ roll to a woman who’s a “bitch,” and who “keeps bitchin’.” Oh, and then in the last line, Keef explicitly explains the “T” and “A” in the title. Sexist? Yes. Raunchy? Yes. Satisfying? No comment.
‘Short And Curlies’
The title alone should be a tipoff to how randy this song is, and although the actual “short and curlies” don’t get mentioned — and thank the good lord for that — the song rails on a woman who’s “got you by the balls.” That’s no way to talk about the fairer sex.
This is the Rolling Stones’ tongue-in-cheek Beach Boys number. It’s got that same Brian Wilson-esque vibe, but it’s just so Stones. Because instead of worshipping at the altar of the female, the Stones are writing one of the biggest kiss-offs in history. On any other group’s “most sexist songs” list, ‘Stupid Girl’ would be No. 1. For the Stones, it’s merely top five.
Yes, there’s a song called ‘Bitch,’ and interestingly enough, it was the American B-side to ‘Brown Sugar.’ It’s another one of those tunes with a sneaky’ riff, kind of like ‘Under My Thumb’ and ‘She’s So Cold.’ But what’s not sneaky is the fact that it’s about drugs or women — take your pick. We read it as being about women, because the narrator talks about salivating at the sight of her, a la Pavlov’s dog, and he then goes on to describe love as the titular word.
‘Some Girls,’ from the 1978 album of the same name, is a Mick Jagger sermon on the types of females one might have under his thumb, and he gets really, really, really sexist — and to some extent racist — as the song wears on. (See those unprintable lines about black and Chinese girls.) It’s amazing record stores back in the day stocked this thing.
‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’
While the Beatles beat around the, er, bush, with tunes like ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and ‘Day Tripper,’ the Rolling Stones got right to the point: Let’s jump in the sack and get down to business. When they appeared ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ the host famously allowed the band to play this tune on the one condition they change the lyrics to “let’s spend some time together.” Which of course they completely ignored.
‘Under My Thumb’
‘Under My Thumb,’ is without a doubt, the Stones’ most sexist song. The little xylophone accompaniment is the sonic representation of Mick Jagger tip-toeing around the subject — and then shocking the listener by just laying it straight out on the table. This chick thought she was going to get the best of him, and now he’s got her trained to the point of submission. Whether he means sexually or socially is unclear, but the song is chock-full of language one might use describing a dog, not a human being. It’s enough to make you squirm.