Retro Single Review: Dolly Parton, “Just Because I’m a Woman”

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July 8, 2011

1968 | Peak: #17

While we continue to notice tangible gender inequities in country music today, particularly the ratio of male artists versus female artists that are played on mainstream radio, the gap between what male and female artists can sing about has narrowed considerably. Moreover, it’s certainly not uncommon to hear a range of topics from female singers that reveal the strength of independent minded, empowered women.

In 1968, however, women’s anthems were not so common or accepted and if they were, it was somewhat of an anomaly. While Kitty Wells had a smash with “It Wasn’t God who Made Honky Tonk Angels” in 1952, written as an answer to Hank Thompson’s “Wild Side of Life”, the recording and release of Dolly Parton’s 1968 single “Just Because I’m A Woman” was still a bold move at the time.

Written in response to her husband’s disappointment that he was not her first sexual relationship, even though she was not his first either, Parton points out “my mistakes are no worse than yours, just because I’m a woman.” She even goes as far to detail the glaring double standard by observing: “Now a man will take a good girl/ And he’ll ruin her reputation/ But when he wants to marry/ Well, that’s a different situation.”

The tune is not especially catchy and it’s not bolstered by a raucous production like some of country music’s favorite anthems of today, but those missing elements only make Dolly’s anthem of gender equity even more poignant as she sings with both tenderness and matter-of-factness regarding a hypocritical attitude that still exists in 2011.

Written by Dolly Parton

Grade: A

Listen: Just Because I’m a Woman

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  1. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Nice to see a retro review from you, Leeann! This one was fantastic, and very true.

  2. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks, Ben. I’ve done one other one, but it might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

  3. Paul DennisNo Gravatar says:

    This song was quite a bit more popuilar than its #7 Billboard ranking would suggest. Most of the country radio stations in Virginia had it reach #1 or #2 on their local surveys and Billboard’s great competitor Cashbox had it at #3 for four weeks

    It was one of her two or three best singles as a solo artist

  4. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I wondered about that, Paul. I’m glad it did better than it seemed.

  5. MegNo Gravatar says:

    The song’s poignant and very spot on, I love it.

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