Why Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill” Remains a Badass Reproductive Rights Anthem 40 Years Later

Image Credit: Flickr.com

Image Credit: Flickr.com

Katie Tandy’s post originally appeared on Ravishly.com.

If you’re like me, you know of Loretta Lynn—country singer-songwriter extraordinaire born a coal miner’s daughter—but weren’t aware of her total feminist bad-assery and general shit-kicking in terms of reproductive rights for women. I stumbled across this article today about “The Pill,” a song about the glory of birth control that Lynn wrote in 1975, inspired by her early days of marital bliss (she was 16 and pregnant) to Oliver Vanetta Lynn Jr.

While the story goes that Oliver gave Loretta her first guitar for their 6th anniversary and encouraged her natural ability, he was also very busy impregnating her; she had had four children by the time she was 20 and she went on to have two more. It’s no secret that Oliver, who went by the nickname “Doo,” was a philandering bastard and an abusive alcoholic, and that their marriage was generally, how-shall-we-say, dysfunctional. But they stayed together for 50 years and she still believes their tale was ultimately a love story:

I married Do when I wasn’t but a child, and he was my life from that day on. But as important as my youth and upbringing was, there’s something else that made me stick to Doo. He thought I was something special, more special than anyone else in the world, and never let me forget it. That belief would be hard to shove out the door. Doo was my security, my safety net. And just remember, I’m explainin’, not excusin’ . . . Doo was a good man and a hard worker. But he was an alcoholic, and it affected our marriage all the way through. —Still Woman Enough: A Memoir

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Spoiler Alert: You’re Old

Spoiler Alert: You're Old

Image Credit: Harry Wood on Flickr

When I was in my late twenties, a 30-year-old acquaintance told me she was pregnant. In most populations, this would be considered a fairly normal occurrence, and the proper response would include one part squealing and two parts envy. But my immediate response was not to ask the due date or inquire about possible names. My immediate response was shock: wow, babies having babies. Let me repeat: she was 30. If this were a Jane Austen novel, a 30-year-old woman would already be a mother of four or an avowed spinster with an unhealthy interest in cribbage. And if this were Paleolithic times, a 30-year-old woman would, statistically speaking, be dead. But like many urban women under 30, I still believed that ovaries were entirely ornamental and that real life was something that happened tomorrow.

I wasn’t the only person under this delusion. Few of my New York friends were married, let alone packing diapers. And despite our claims that we lived in New York because we were so career oriented, we mostly dabbled in professional life without much direction. We all claimed that we were working in administrative positions because we wanted to write or direct or act, but, with very few exceptions, no one actually did any of these things. In theory, we were all very creative. In reality, we mostly just went to brunch. We existed in a perpetual post-college phase—a term that seemed increasingly ridiculous when we started receiving notices for our ten-year-high-school reunions. Even though we logically knew our parents were settled into careers and families by our age, we still considered ourselves firmly within our salad days. But then 30 hit, and something started to shift. Continue reading

Top Five Ways to Improve the Oscars’ Bechdel Test Score

Image Credit: RT Features

Image Credit: RT Features

Film critics are currently in agreement about two things: 2013 was an excellent year for American film, but it was a lousy year for everyone who pees sitting down. Behind the camera, in front of the camera, somewhere in the near vicinity of the camera. It didn’t really matter. Unless your name is Megan Ellison or you were responsible for “Let it Go,” then this probably wasn’t your year. Look no further than the nominees for Best Actress: Cate Blanchet is a lock for Blue Jasmine—an execrable film that includes jokes that might have been funny during the Carter administration—and Meryl Streep is nominated for a film that manages to make a dramatic legend sound like a soap actress impersonating Paula Deen. The Best Supporting Actress category is far stronger (Lupita and June!), but it’s troubling that 2013 Hollywood apparently only writes strong roles for women who agree to take up less screen time.

But this doesn’t mean women weren’t working in any films. It just means they weren’t in the types of films or the types of roles that Hollywood deems worthy of red carpets and tiny gold men. So here are the five ways I’d change the current list of nominees to increase the Oscar’s popularity among single, over-educated Jezebel readers (i.e., me): Continue reading

Weekly Girl Crush: Podcast Edition

Image Credit: Slate

Image Credit: Slate

If you’ve had even a passing acquaintance with me, then you’ve likely already determined my Homeric epithet: I’m clearly podcast-listening Anna. It’s not just that I begin approximately 85% of my sentences with “I was listening to this podcast that said…”, but I also rarely walk more than four feet without reaching for my earbuds. I’ve started measuring all train rides not in minutes passed but in number of podcasts consumed. And, what’s worse, I’ve recently changed my iPhone settings so that I now listen to all podcasts at 1.5 times the speed and, thus, can ingest even more delightful knowledgeable goodness.

I know: It’s a problem.

But in the midst of all this witty chatter and educated analysis, I’m constantly surprised by the limited number of feminist-themed podcasts available over at iTunes. Feminists on the Internet are certainly not a rare breed, but the ratio of feminist bloggers to feminist podcasters is about the same as the ratio of people who watch House of Cards to the number of people who can name the current majority whip. But, thankfully, a few brave ladies have sorted out their business, set up a microphone, and begun righting this imbalance. Continue reading

Pinterest Is the New Vibrator

Image Credit: Pinterest

Image Credit: Pinterest

The target market for the 21st-century cult of domesticity may include everyone from Brooklyn makers to Salt Lake City sister wives, but, up until recently, I never thought it would include me. All of my cooking involved a George Foreman grill, and I honestly didn’t understand what one would possibly do with a whisk or, for that matter, an iron. When I heard about some efficiency-obsessed San Francisco programmer who invented a food(ish) product that could provide all of your daily calories and nutrients, I immediately checked the price. (It’s $65 a week in case you’re interested.) So I wasn’t a domestic goddess or even a domestic cleric. I was more like the stock photo of a single girl used in every article about America’s declining birth rate. But then I embarked on a search for an oatmeal-colored sofa, and everything changed. Continue reading