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Illustration for article titled Unlikely Feminist Role Models: Issue 1: Dolly Parton

Note: I know this has been discussed here and here, but I want to give Dolly some love, too! Enough about bemoaning my personal life...let's talk about some bad-asses.
When I was in San Francisco, I dated a lad from London who dared to insinuate that Dolly Parton was nothing but a bimbo. I was aghast! Let's look at Dolly from a feminist standpoint.


Dolly grew up in rural Tennessee, as one of twelve children to a sharecropper in a one-bedroom cabin. This, as commentators and authors have previously noted, is significant. Growing up in relative poverty in the Tennessee mountains, Dolly is one voice among hundreds of under served women in the area. More importantly- Dolly gives back. Never having children of her own (but raising five of her siblings), Dolly sponsors a philanthropy program called "Imagination Library," which is a literacy program that sends a free book to over 700,000 children in the United States, UK, and Canada. MAYBE IF THAT TRIFLING WOMAN JOLENE READ A BOOK, SHE'D MAKE BETTER CHOICES. All kidding aside, helping those less fortunate is a great humanist approach, if not feminist.

Although she's had plastic surgery, she's very frank about it being her choice. She also laughs about it, even stating:
"I look just like the girls next door… if you happen to live next to an amusement park."
I'm all for body positivism in any form, y'all.

Her 1968 song "Just Because I'm A Woman" has been ddscussed in depth on this website and others, but let's take a look at a BAMF lyric:
"No, my mistakes are no worse than yours
Just because I'm a woman."

Finally, Dolly has stood up for gay rights, and raised money for HIV,even though a large portion of her audience believes in "traditional American values," and are the same group of people that turned on the Dixie Chicks for speaking a "liberal" opinion.

Dolly Parton is one of my "unlikely" feminist icons, is an amazing singer/songwriter who can play guitar or banjo with 3 inch nails, and I'm going to let her play us out.

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