Welcome to POWER PLAYS, a brand-spankin’ new column for your feminist listening pleasure in which we gather up our favorite jams and then make ‘em into mixtapes!
Calling all (feminist) cowgirls! The world is blissfully unaware that feminist songs have been present in country music for decade – so, in order to celebrate country music’s long-running feminist streak, we compiled a playlist of our favorite feminist country songs.
Our playlist includes “Girl in a Country Song,” of course, but Maddie and Tae aren’t the only artists to release feminist country songs in the past few years. In “Follow Your Arrow,” Kacey Musgraves talks about double-standards women frequently face and concludes that we shouldn’t feel ashamed for sticking to our own moral compasses, even when others might judge us. (“Follow Your Arrow” also encourages its female listeners to “kiss lots of girls, if that’s what you’re into,” and for mainstream country music, this is a radical gesture). In “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Miranda Lambert takes aim at a different set of expectations: expectations placed on women to maintain composure and act ladylike in the face of adversity. She’d much rather drink, scream, and cut her hair.
8tracks doesn’t let us include more than two songs from the same album or artist, so we had difficulty narrowing down our song choices for a few of the artists. One of these is the Dixie Chicks, who kick off our playlist with “Goodbye Earl,” a song about a woman who helps her best friend kill her abusive husband. The Dixie Chicks also end our playlist with “Not Ready to Make Nice,” a response to the backlash the band endured after their lead singer criticized President Bush while on tour in 2003. Some of our other favorites from the Dixie Chicks that we weren’t able to include in this playlist were “Wide Open Spaces,” “Ready to Run,” “The Long Way Around,” “Lubbock or Leave It,” and “Sin Wagon.”
A second artist whose songs we had trouble narrowing down for this playlist is Martina McBride. Many of her songs focus on self-esteem, independence, and domestic violence. In “My Baby Loves Me,” McBride talks about having a partner who values her for her kindness and determination, not her appearance. Among those that aren’t featured here, we love “Do What You Do,” “It’s My Time,” “Life #9,” and “A Broken Wing.”
Our playlist includes plenty of modern music, but we also have a fair amount of oldies: Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Jeannie Riley, and Nancy Sinatra. Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” details a career woman’s stresses of “barely getting by,” dealing with unsympathetic male bosses, and losing hope of upward social mobility. “Harper Valley PTA” by Jeannie Riley follows the story of a widowed mother who was accused by her daughter’s school board of promiscuity. In retaliation, she shows up at their next board meeting in a miniskirt to challenge their hypocrisy.
We also featured one song from a male vocalist: Lonestar’s “Mr. Mom.” It follows the story of one laid-off father as he becomes a stay-at-home dad and quickly realizes that parenting is exhausting work. Motherhood has been a devalued profession for centuries , so it’s nice to see the men of Lonestar recognizing its significance.
Whether or not you’re already a fan of feminist country music, this playlist will give you 20 reasons why you should be. Tune in and drop out! (AUTHOR’S NOTE: Some of these songs contain depictions of domestic violence.)
POWER PLAYS Vol. 3: These Boots Are Made For Marchin’
Stream It Now!
- Girl in a Country Song – Maddie and Tae
- Follow Your Arrow – Kacey Musgraves
- Goodbye Early – Dixie Chicks
- Lesson in Leavin’ – Jo Dee Messina
- My Baby Loves Me – Martina McBride
- Mr. Mom – Lonestar
- She’s Not Just a Pretty Face – Shania Twain
- Gunpowder and Lead – Bluewater Music
- Man! I Feel Like A Woman – Shania Twain
- Mam’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert
- 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton
- Harper Valley PTA – Tammy Jo Band
- Just Because I’m A Woman – Marge MacKinnon
- These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra
- He Ought To Know That Now – Lee Ann Womack
- Independence Day – Martina McBride
- Not Ready to Make Nice – Dixie Chicks