Dolly Parton: Feminist Icon?

Illustration for article titled Dolly Parton: Feminist Icon?

Everybody loves Dolly Parton, even if they aren't particularly into her music. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone saying a cruel word about her. In fact, she's probably the only celeb who can get away with, at times, hideous dresses on the red carpet and step away unscathed by fashion critics and tabloid rags because people are like, "Oh, that's our Dolly!" With her big boobs and big hair and big makeup, she's the embodiment of extreme femininity. But is she a feminist? She's certainly been beloved by many feminists across the board, wave after wave, ever since she wrote the women-in-the-workplace anthem "9 to 5." A male writer, Harry Phibbs, at the Guardian explored this phenomenon today, asking whether or not she's a feminist icon.

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Phibbs thinks she is. But first off, what exactly constitutes a feminist icon? Surely, it's a title that is bestowed upon a person, rather than sought out. And it probably has less to do with what the icon has actually done, and more to do with what it meant for and how it affected the fan.

For me, Dolly Parton is totally a feminist icon. But not for "9 to 5." Instead, it was "Just Because I'm a Woman," a song about fighting sexual double standards that - released in 1968 - was far ahead of it's time.

I can see you're disappointed

By the way you look at me

And I'm sorry that I'm not

The woman you thought I'd be

Yes, I've made my mistakes

But listen and understand

My mistakes are no worse than yours

Just because I'm a woman

So when you look at me

Don't feel sorry for yourself

Just think of all the shame

You might have brought somebody else

Just let me tell you this

Then we'll both know where we stand

My mistakes are no worse than yours

Just because I'm a woman

Now a man will take a good girl

And he'll ruin her reputation

But when he wants to marry

Well, that's a different situation

He'll just walk off and leave her

To do the best she can

While he looks for an angel

To wear his wedding band

Now I know that I'm no angel

If that's what you thought you'd found

I was just the victum of

A man that let me down

Yes, I've made my mistakes

But listen and understand

My mistakes are no worse than yours

Just because I'm a woman

No, my mistakes are no worse than yours

Just because I'm a woman

Dolly Parton: Feminist Icon? [The Guardian]

DISCUSSION

mrsbeeton
Montauk Monster

To me she is a feminist because, on paper, she should have no power. She is a 60-something woman born poor in rural Appalacia and rose to the top in a variety of fields because of her business savvy and talent. I would say this happened in spite of her looks, not because of them. Her physical image reads as "bimbo," not "woman who will own you." On top of that, she has used her wealth and power for good, not evil.

First of all, Dollywood keeps the entire Pigeon Forge area employed, full stop. There's not a lot of mining done in those East TN mountains anymore and I don't know what those people would do without the tourists. Also, her (newish) childhood literacy program gives any registered child in the state of Tennessee a book a month from birth until 5 years old. 21% of children in this state live below the poverty line and this charity is such a boon to their families it makes my heart swell. Thirdly, she's funny and self-deprecating and has given every sign over the last 40 years that she is one of the wittiest, coolest, nicest women in pop culture history.

What else does she have to do to prove she's a feminist? Wear a t-shirt saying so? "9 to 5" should be enough.