A Feminist Guide to Country Music

Country music doesn’t have much of a reputation for sticking its neck out on the gender-equality front. The genre is better known for the sentiments expressed in Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” than for asserting women’s rights. But there are plenty of rock-em sock-em female country artists out there, and plenty of anthems about women fighting back — or just plain fighting — in the country oeuvre. Some, like Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill,” face political issues head on, while others, ranging as far back as the folk tune “Wish I Was A Single Girl Again,” question the value of being hitched up to a man at all. In honor of the one and only Dolly Parton, whose 66th birthday it is today, we present a feminist’s introduction to country songs, after the jump.

Dolly Parton — “Just Because I’m a Woman”

“Just Because I’m a Woman” may be the best country answer to slut-shaming on the books. It was apparently Dolly’s response to a conversation she had with her husband about how many lovers they’d had in the past. It’s a pretty simple message, but a powerful one: “My mistakes are no worse than yours, just because I’m a woman.”