This month we mourn the passing of badass country music singer, Loretta Lynn. She died in her sleep at the age of 90. She was born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky in 1932, the second of eight children. She married at the ripe old age of 15 (or 13, as she claimed in “Coal Miner’s Daughter”), which even at that time in rural Kentucky can’t have been cool. She had 4 children by time she was 19. Ultimately she had six children and evidently had 3 miscarriages. So she spent a lot of time being pregnant in her early days.
The pill wasn’t available to women until 1950, but I guess it made a big enough impression on her that she recorded a song called The Pill in 1975 (right around the time of the landmark Roe V. Wade ruling. RIP that too).
“A riotous celebration of reproductive freedom” and “an ode to birth control and sexual freedom that shocked the industry”
She told Time magazine, “I had four kids before I was 18. If I had had the Pill, I would’ve been popping it like popcorn”. The record company held onto it for 3 years before they released it, sensing that it would become (as it did) highly controversial. It still is.
Which, I mean, FFS. Is this where we are? I reckon it is. Women’s reproductive rights are shrinking by the day…things seem to be rapidly devolving back to the days when women didn’t have the pill or access to abortion. I don’t want to ever hear that people are going to start being cool if girls are married off at 13, but who the hell knows at this point.
Loretta Lynn didn’t consider herself a feminist, but her songs tell a different story. She certainly paved the way for women making their own decisions without apology – in Counry Music and beyond. I mean, she was a badass no matter how you measure it.
In addition to being pregnant a lot in her early days, she was also beaten by her husband, “Dolittle”, a lot. Or “spanked”, as he called it (which, ew). Evidently, she put a stop to that once she moved to Nashville and met Patsy Cline. It was Cline who taught her how to shave her legs, drive, wear makeup, and most importantly, stand up for herself. “After I met Patsy, life got better for me because I fought back,” she told the Nashville Scene. “Before that, I just took it. I had to. I was 3,000 miles away from my mom and dad and had four little kids. There’s nothin’ I could do about it. But later on, I started speakin’ my mind when things weren’t right.”
Badass. She didn’t take any crap.
October is notable for another, related reason as it turn out: it’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. DVAM evolved from the ‘Day of Unity’ in October 1981 observed by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence…it became a week, and now here we are with a whole month to raise awareness about violence against women and children.
I really wish we didn’t need to have to have a whole movement just to raise awareness on why DV is bad. I mean, FFS. Then again, I really wish we weren’t worrying about whether or not the pill is going to be taken away from us, or having to fight for abortion rights again, or what evil plan the Supreme Court has for us in store next.
Loretta, come back! We need you! And bring RGB with you!
PS: Badass Bonus
I was today years old when I learned that our beloved Shel Silverstein also wrote country music songs. He wrote a very apropos song for Loretta called One On the Way, and I only wish he’d also illustrated it as well. I mean, it really sounds like it could be right in there in Where The Sidewalk Ends:
The girls in New York City, they all march for women’s lib
And better homes and garden shows the modern way to live
And the pill may change the world tomorrow, but meanwhile, today
Here in Topeka, the flies are a buzzin’
The dog is a barkin’ and the floor needs a scrubbin’
One needs a spankin’ and one needs a huggin’
Lord, one’s on the way
Oh gee, I hope it ain’t twins, again
Domestic Violence Resources
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Human Trafficking Resource Center/Polaris Project
Call: 1-888-373-7888 | Text: HELP to BeFree (233733)
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Futures Without Violence: The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health
1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011
National Runaway Safeline
1-800-RUNAWAY or 1-800-786-2929
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