Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Written by Claire Highsmith, Nottingham, UK -
I didn’t really consider this song a feminist anthem when I first heard it.  Then again, it was the early 1980s and I had just become interested in make-up, school discos and boys and I don’t really think I was much in the mood for emancipation.  Having said that, it had never really occurred to me that my gender was oppressed as such (that came later!). As far as I was concerned I was the freest thing on the planet.

My abiding (first) memory of this song is miming to it with a hairbrush, using my bed as a trampoline with my best friend Julie gleefully joining in.  It sums up that whole time for me, one of simple, unadulterated joie de vivre when independent life was something that was just around the corner – and boy, was I going to enjoy it.  Talking of boys, they were still something of a mystery and in my more cynical moments I wish that they had stayed that way!

The bed-bouncing teenager rapidly (some might argue about the true speed) became something more sophisticated and worldly wise.  Yet, for many, many years after this song would get me and my girlfriends on to the dance floor faster than a speeding bullet.

Although the message of the song remains very clear to me, the nature of the fun involved has evolved as I have got older.  The line ‘I wanna be the one to walk in the sun’ is I think the most powerful of the whole song.  For me, it became a lyrical signal that I didn’t necessarily need a man to be happy (even though it helps) but definitely not one who would, whether by his nature or the sheer force of gender role traditions, put me in a box designated ‘wife, mother, homemaker’.  The song doesn’t preclude that but told me I could do it on my own terms – in partnership rather than in subjugation.

It was only recently that I read that Girls Just Wanna Have Fun was originally written by a man and that Cyndi Lauper (who always reminded me of a 1920s silent movie star for some reason) adapted the lyrics for her version.  Life’s little ironies…

Claire works as an administrator at a Doctor's surgery and is married with three grown children

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