Free to Be...You and Me is 40


“…boys raced each other to the chessboards.”

I found that pretty far out in itself.

Well, I feel old. But also lucky to have watched Free to Be…You and Me in school and church basements. I don’t know how many of the kids around me learned anything from it, because we didn’t discuss it, and the adults who put it on seemed to do so mainly to keep us quiet, without any thought about its message. It had music and animation, so as far as they were concerned they could just as well have sat us down to watch Heavy Metal.

For me the real experience was not learning from it so much as having what I already believed to be true confirmed. Like Miriam Peskowitz’s mother I didn’t think gender roles were fixed. Having grownups–even animated ones–tell me I was correct about that was very profound.

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Every time a child sees “Free to be…You and Me” , Baby Bill O’Reilly cries.


Honestly, the main thing I remember about the album as a kid was resenting “It’s All Right To Cry” because I would inevitably cry when it played.

I think i turned out okay though.


Now “Heavy Metal”, that was a great movie about strong female roles.


Loved this record (yeah, that’s how I listened to it) when I was a little girl. “Atalanta” arguably may be why I was interested in learning about Greek mythology, and “Ladies First” was just delightfully macabre.

Surprisingly, listening to “William’s Doll” now almost made me cry. My husband takes such great care of our daughter, getting her dressed and diapered and fed. And I think, ahhh, progress – because I know my dad probably didn’t do these things much, and I know my stepdad leaves the room anytime a baby in the vicinity needs changing. As a society, we have still not shaken off the stigma of the man who takes care of his little children. It’s changing (there was a recent episode of Bob’s Burgers where it’s revealed Bob potty trained all his kids; it was also surprising, and touching) but it’s also 40 years later and moms like Nerdy Apple get tremendous attention when they blog about their son wanting to be Daphne for Halloween.

Anyway. I love FTBYAM and sometime in the future Onalarklette will be listening to it. Right now she’s a little too young, but I can’t wait to sing along.


I always cry a bit when I watch the part with Michael Jackson singing the song about how your looks are superficial and you’re worthy of being loved no matter what shape or color you were born with. If only he’d taken his own advice ;_;

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Growing up we had it as a record, and I remember watching the movie on 3/4" Beta at the public library all the time. As I grew up I grew out of it, and hadn’t thought about it until I had my first boyfriend in college, who had a copy on tape. Since then I’ve had the tape and CD, and still listen to it fairly often. Nowadays the LP is framed and hangs on the wall. We’ve dubbed it “how to raise a feminist child.”

Chess? Those poor poor girls. Probably doomed, even today, to an endless round of encounter groups and bell hooks lectures.


In addition to teaching my generation and subsequent ones that it’s OK to be a feminist, FTBYAM taught us that it’s OK to be different – that as long as you respect the choices of others you don’t have to conform if conforming makes you unhappy.

As such, this album must be the absolute bane of social conservatives – yet another reason to love it now that we’re grown up. I really wonder how many of our recent victories originated in this album.

The LP is still in my possession, but it’s all worn out now from countless playings. So I’ll be giving Marlo and friends a listen in digital form this evening in honour of the anniversary.

2 Likes would make more sense than the .com address, for a nonprofit foundation, but it seems to belong to somebody else who doesn’t have anything but a blank web page there.

It’s so strange - we’ve always been careful to not gender stereotype with our 6 year old daughter, but from a very early age she had a strongly defined idea of what toys, favourite colours, TV shows and behaviour etc were acceptable for each gender.

Culture seeps in through the cracks at such an early age.

Grew up with it, loved it, and have introduced it to the next generation who also loves it. Songs all hold up well. Only thing that bothers me: shouldn’t it go “You and I are free to be you and me”?

It’s not exactly uncommon for non-profits to buy the “.com” domain and use it as a redirect to their primary site on “.org”.

Which is exactly what happens if you put “” into your browser.

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