Iconic country singer Dolly Parton is an unlikely feminist hero. In fact, she herself claims “I’ve never been?a feminist.” But if we look at her accomplishments and some of the things she’s said over her decades-long career, it seems odd for her to say that. I think she’s always been a feminist.
Dolly Parton is?the sheer epitome of the kind of woman feminists most dislike. She proudly embraces her role of the “dumb, busty blonde” and claims that she’s offended if people don’t look at her breasts?or talk about them because?they cost her “a lot of money.” She’s incredibly beautiful, but consciously chooses to look like what she calls “a tramp.”
Why do feminists hate her? It’s not just because of how she looks. Dolly Parton says things like this:
It costs a lot of money to look this cheap. If I see something sagging, bagging or dragging I’ll get it nipped, tucked or sucked.
I look like a woman, but I think like a man.
I’ve used my femininity and my sexuality as a weapon and a tool… but that’s just natural.
The woman that I was most impressed with when I was a little girl was the town tramp. But I didn’t know what that meant,” she told Safer. “This woman had the yellow peroxide hair. She had the red nails. The red lipstick. The beautiful eyes. The high heels. Short skirt. And I thought she was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. And whoever I was with would say, ‘Oh, she ain’t nothin’ but trash.’ And I make the joke. And I would say, ‘Well, that’s what I’m gonna be when I grow up,’ meaning that’s how I wanna look.
That’s pretty cringe-worthy, eh? Yikes.
She’s a paradox. She’s been married to her husband, Carl Dean,?for more than 45 years?and she says that when she’s home, she enjoys doing homemaker stuff like cooking, cleaning, etc…But she’s a remarkably savvy businesswoman. She wrote the song that was made legendary by Whitney Houston: I Will Always Love You. She’s the?author of a series of books for children, a philanthropist, an actress, and has copyrighted more than 3,000 songs. She’s one of the few entertainers who has been nominated for all of the major entertainment awards: the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, Tony Awards, the Golden Globe Award, and the Emmy Awards. Dolly is?actually tied with Beyonce on the number of Grammy nominations she’s received.
Perhaps most important is Dolly’s?impact on society.
She has been nationally recognized as an advocate for children’s literacy. But she’s more than an advocate — she’s an activist. She created the Imagination Library, an organization that has distributed more than 40 million books to children in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada.
Dolly Parton has also transformed her home state of Tennessee. Her theme park and water park ?– Dollywood?and?Splash Country — are significant economic drivers of tax revenue and jobs in Sevier County, Tennessee. She employs more than 3,000?people and the tourists she brings in number more than 2.5 million?per year. From the Knoxville News Sentinel:
“Of the millions of tourist tax dollars that flow into our county every year, you can bet Dolly Parton is a major force behind them. Even if a visitor isn’t crossing the turnstiles at Dollywood, they are still affected by Dolly. She is a legend and her name is spoken with pride by local business merchants in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg,” McCroskey said.
“Her contribution is immeasurable,” she added. “We don’t understand the impact Dolly Parton has had on our area and East Tennessee. Sometimes we take that for granted, and it speaks to her and her humble nature. We could use a few more like her.”
Seriously, I could go on all day about this woman’s accomplishments, but let me get right to the point of this article: proving that she’s indeed a feminist. Whether she wants to call herself one or not, or whether everyone in the world agrees that she is or not, one thing is clear. This lady was doing nearly everything before other women were, she’s done it all better than anyone else, and she’s definitely no “dumb blonde.” Here are her quotes.
- I’m very secure about my talents and about who I am.
- Living in America and, of course, just being women in general, we’ve got more strength than we think we do.
- My fat never made me less money.
- I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb… and I also know that I’m not blonde.
- I don’t like to give advice. I like to give people information because everyone’s life is different, and everyone’s journey is different.
- You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.
- I was the first woman to burn my bra – it took the fire department four days to put it out.
- There are certainly a lot of things that still need to change when it comes to women in the workforce.
- When I got somethin’ to say, I’ll say it.
- You know, I look like a woman but I think like a man. And in this world of business, that has helped me a lot. Because by the time they think that I don’t know what’s goin’ on, I then got the money, and gone.
- I think that I’m perfect.
- For some reason, I have better luck when I work with women. I guess I have a good sense of sisterhood.
- I am not gay, but if I were, I would be the first one running out of the closet.
- I’m not going to limit myself just because people won’t accept the fact that I can do something else.
- You gotta keep trying to find your niche and trying to fit into whatever slot that’s left for you or to make one of your own.
- A lot of people have said I’d have probably done better in my career if I hadn’t looked so cheap and gaudy. But I dress to be comfortable for me, and you shouldn’t be blamed because you want to look pretty.
- If I can get my dress on, my weight is under control.
- I’m not intimidated by how people perceive me.
- I know who I am, I know what I can and can’t do. I know what I will and won’t do. I know what I’m capable of and I don’t agree to do things that I don’t think I can pull off.
- I just don’t feel like I have to explain myself.
No, ma’am, you sure don’t.
Below is the theme song from 9-5, Dolly’s?movie that tackled sexual harassment in the workplace. Yes, she did that, too. Let us know your thoughts at the Liberal America Facebook page. Sign up for our free daily newsletter to receive more great stories like this one.
Tiffany Willis is a fifth-generation Texan and the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she has spent most of her career actively working with ?the least of these? and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics she discusses,?like her?Facebook page,?follow her on Twitter, or?connect with her via LinkedIn. She also has?a?grossly neglected personal blog?and a?literary quotes blog that is a labor of love. Find her somewhere and join the discussion.
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