A Feminist Twang

by Dish Staff

Kelsey McKinney lauds the rise of Kacey Musgraves and strong female country acts:

From the legacy of Loretta Lynn to the belting gunpowder and lead of Miranda Lambert, feminism has been a lyrical undercurrent for many of country’s all-star artists. “My mistakes are no worse than yours just because I’m a woman,” Dolly Parton sings in “Just Because I’m a Woman.” That mantra of equality is matched by dozens of female artists happy to sing about being strong, capable women. For political feminist commentary, just listen to Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill,” Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” or the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl.” ... Feminist themes have always lingered in the background of country music, but today’s up-and-coming female artists are bringing it to them forefront — and acting as an antidote to a misogynistic trend among their male country colleagues.

But Alyssa suggests that political country songs aren’t as common as they used to be:

Music journalist Chris Willman, whose 2005 book, Rednecks & Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music, examines the genre’s evolving engagement with political and social issues, told me he thinks that songs like these are outliers rather than representative of a new movement. “Once upon a time, country was better than any other genre at doing ‘issue’ songs,” he said. “Now, they’ve all but abandoned that, with the rare exceptions that have something to do with cancer or patriotism.” … Some of these dynamics are driven more by the needs of country radio than by an inherent political orientation. “There used to be a lot of whiplash on country radio, as you’d go right from a drinking song into a somebody-died song,” Willman says. “I think eventually the programmers noticed the whiplash and decided not to jolt their listeners around like that. Guess which type of song lost out? Not the party songs.”