Keeping with the theme of the day, over at The Atlantic, some thoughts on mothers and feminism in country music.:
Country’s willingness to consider women as mothers in addition to considering them as (sexually available) daughters isn’t always liberating, by any means. But it is, or at least can be, an alternative that isn’t generally explored or exploited in other parts of the pop landscape. At the least, this means that country is sometimes able to see mothers not just as stock characters, but as people whose experiences may in themselves be worth singing about—as in Loretta Lynn’s glorious 1971 ode for harassed parents, “One’s on the Way.”
That song explicitly distances its narrator from the “girls in New York City [who] all march for women’s lib.” But the ability to see mothers as human beings also makes it possible for country on occasion to have something that starts to look like an honest-to-God feminist vision. “To Daddy,” a hit for Emmylou Harris in 1970, for example, about the emotional aridity and monotony of a stay-at-home mother’s life, sure sounds like songwriter Dolly Parton was channeling Betty Friedan. In any case, it’s hard to imagine Friedan wouldn’t approve of the conclusion.