|Don’t fuck with this woman.|
I love old country music (the new stuff, not so much), though sometimes the lyrics are a tad, you know, reactionary. (Merle Haggard, why did you hate marijuana so much?) And so, when what was then called “Women’s Lib” erupted back in the day, it’s hardly surprising that it inspired a bunch of backlashy country songs. Here, courtesy of WFMU’s Beware of the Blog, are ten songs giving the libbers what’s what. Or trying to, anyway. These are protest songs protesting protest.
Of course, there have always been plenty of ass-kicking women in country music who had no trouble standing up for themselves, labels be damned. So if these anti-feminist songs leave a bad taste, take a Pill — well, The Pill, as in Loretta Lynn’s hit song from the 70s that actually, to use feminist lingo she never would herself use, champions the power of women to take control of their reproductive destiny instead of being relegated to the status of baby-making machines. (She knew what she was talking — er, singing — about, having had 4 kids by the time she was 19.) Or check out her “”Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind).” (For more on Lynn’s proto-feminism, see here.)
Loretta Lynn wasn’t — isn’t — the only proto-feminist amongst the old school country singers. Check out Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels,” an in-your-face response to Hank Thompson’s slut-shaming “Wild Side of Life.” Or the ultimate anti-slut-shaming country song, “Harper Valley PTA,” which was actually written by a dude. Tammy Wynette, sometimes caricatured as an antifeminist doormat by people who don’t really know her music, was a bit of an ass-kicker herself, as “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” makes pretty damn clear. Was she a feminist? Nah. But life is more complicated than labels.