Right On: Dolly Parton Refuses to Embrace the 'Feminist' Label

FILE - In this June 15, 2016 file photo, Dolly Parton performs in concert during her Pure & Simple Tour in Philadelphia. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)

Dolly Parton

FILE – In this June 15, 2016 file photo, Dolly Parton performs in concert during her Pure & Simple Tour in Philadelphia. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)

Country music superstar Dolly Parton has been a trailblazer her whole life, but when it comes to embracing modern feminism, she says you can count her out.

Parton sat down with Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad for a period of 12 hours over a 2 year time span for a podcast series that NPR has has called “Dolly Parton’s America”, which they promise will take us on a “journey into the Dollyverse.”

In Episode One, titled “Sad A** Songs”, Abumrad wonders “How can such pro-woman lyrics come from someone who despises the word feminism?”

Parton, who is co-hosting tonight’s CMA Awards, explains:

I think of myself as a woman in business. I love men — cause I have a dad, my brothers, all my uncles I love, my grandfathers I love, and I relate to them. And I write a lot of songs about women, because I am a woman; but I write a lot of songs for men … I write about men and their feelings because I know they have feelings, too. I look like a woman, but I think like a man … I don’t believe in crucifying a whole group just because a few people have made mistakes. To me the word ‘feminist’ is like, ‘I hate all men.’

The Tennessee native has been asked about feminism often in interviews over the last several years, and her message has never wavered. She told Sky News back in February that instead of judging all men for the bad actions of a few, she chose to treat all people with respect because “it’s just about the person”:

She added that she has known “more good men in my life than bad ones” and that there are “a lot of bad women in this world too”.

“I’ve worked with a lot of women that were b*****s, b****y as anyone else can be. It’s just about the person, about how we treat each other with respect.”

I don’t know what Parton’s specific political affiliation is (nor do I care), but as a woman I can tell you that this sentiment is shared by a boatload of women – conservative and liberal alike. You just don’t hear about it much because prominent feminists are loud, angry, and aggressive, and loud people tend to get all the attention (and in this case, all the love and affection from like-minded folks in the mainstream media).

Even when I considered myself a liberal feminist back in the early-mid 1990s, I didn’t embrace the man-hating aspect of feminism. I remember after my conversion to what I jokingly refer to as “the dark side” (conservatism), I held out hope that some day feminists would reject their hateful dogma about men and turn away from their allegiance to abortion.

Sadly, both of those aspects have become much worse, and both are just two of the many driving forces behind why many women like Dolly Parton* who will not hesitate to lift up and support other women also reject the “feminist” label.

Not only that, but back in the days of 1960s/70s second wave feminism, militant feminists frowned upon and turned their backs on hard-working women like Dolly Parton, who flaunted her looks, was unashamed of her humble Southern country roots, and didn’t take herself too seriously.

Simply put, the “feminist” label has a bad reputation, most of it earned, so why would Dolly Parton or any other successful self-made woman who has set her own rules in life want to latch on to it and all the toxicity that comes with it?

The answer is simple: They shouldn’t.

*Note: I am not aware of Parton’s position on abortion.

— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 16+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –


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