Happy Birthday Dolly Parton: Thanks for Not Being a Feminist

January 20, 2020 Updated: January 20, 2020


Dolly Parton, country music singer, songwriter, and icon of the Appalachian south, turned 74 on Sunday. The singer, best known for her unabashed gaudy style, songs such as “Jolene,” and, let’s just say, unusually trim figure for a woman of her experience, garnered well-wishes from Hollywood, the music industry, and regular folks all over social media.

In November last year, Parton appeared on ABC’s “The View” as a guest. Surrounded by women, she was lauded and gushed over, then co-host Joy Behar asked why Parton doesn’t call herself a “feminist,” since it sure seems like she could be a feminist hero if she wanted to be.

The exchange went like this:

Parton: “Does being feminine makes me a feminist? Does being common make me a communist?”

Behar: “You’re an outspoken, successful, independent woman who writes songs to empower women. Sounds like a feminist.”

Parton: “Well, I guess I am. But I don’t like labels, but I’m a woman and proud of it … and I’m very supportive of women. I love men, don’t get me wrong—I’ve always had them in my home—but … I think we all should be able to express ourselves however we do.”

When asked by co-host Meghan McCain why America love her, Parton replied:

“I just love everybody. I just try to find the God-light in people and I try to play to that. I try not to be judgmental. … I just think we should just love each other … and just accept people as they are.”

An observer on Twitter recently remarked of the exchange something witty yet profound: “Joy Behar barking ‘why don’t you call yourself a feminist?’ should be the final shot of a documentary called ‘Where did we Go Wrong?'”

Parton is worth $600 million, co-hosted the 2019 Country Music Awards, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. While she never discusses politics publicly, she’s often told what a feminist she is, since she’s such a strong woman and her songs empower women to be independent, smart, and resilient.

Still, Parton always rejects that label, and it’s worth it to examine why, in an era when feminism is touted as progress, it seems to be doing anything but making society progress.

Equality or Superiority?

The first wave of feminism touted legal and societal equality, and that was accomplished after years of hard work. The second wave pushed women from the home and into the workforce claiming they, too, could earn a paycheck—and work wasn’t just for men.

Here we find ourselves in the third wave (some say it’s the fourth) where women are working outside the home and enjoy complete legal and societal equality, yet hardcore feminists are still pushing forward. Forward toward what? This is the problem.

Almost as if they ran out of options, feminists today push for continual equality for equity’s sake. They advocate for gender parity in every part of life, even if it makes no sense: They beg for more women to be CEOs and laud governments that try to appoint women to half of their cabinet positions, and both sexes still say there’s a wage gap between men and women—which is a complete myth.

At the same time, this wave of feminism has pushed to eradicate men completely, to banish what they see as the patriarchy—a harmful influence of men on society—from the family and public square entirely.

Feminists went so far as to gaslight everyone and say it wasn’t because of them that the campaign against men was so strong, it was because of men themselves and their toxic masculinity that they began to seem irrelevant and unnecessary. Combine those two campaigns together and you have an entire movement that’s essentially based on waging war against something rather than advocating for a cause.

The feminist movement wants women in the workplace and men altogether eradicated, and says that, in the end, women will still have independence, worth, finances, and family. The problem is, no person (man or woman) can balance all of those things, and so women are not only left disappointed, but also exhausted, angry, bitter, and confused.

Feminists that attempt this path soon realize a world without men would be unsafe, imbalanced, impossible (literally, there’s no children without men), and unstable. They also realize, perhaps more importantly, that feminists often don’t value motherhood, only work. So if all the feminists are working, and the men have been banished to the garage, who is raising the children?

The first wave of feminism sought and accomplished true equality. Women were marginalized, seen as second-rate citizens, and treated with disrespect. That’s simply not the case now. In advocating work above family, financial independence above relationships with men, and gender parity above merit, the feminist movement today has set itself up for failure, because none of those things are even possible, let alone create satisfaction.

I applaud Dolly Parton’s success—her songwriting and love for the South is inspiring and empowering. But I also appreciate that she’s never touted herself as a feminist, a movement that told her she didn’t need men and success was all that mattered.

Nicole Russell is a freelance writer and mother of four. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Politico, The Daily Beast, and The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter @russell_nm.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.