Today’s the day that Miranda Lambert’s new album comes out and it is awesome. Of course the cover of “Look at Miss Ohio” is amazing. But the whole album is really interesting. You know how these days you listen to an album and are like “Okay, I’ll buy these three songs on iTunes and call it good”? I think Lambert has made an album that makes that strategy very difficult, since every song is strong. And I’m still digging the Pistol Annies album.
One thing I’ve been thinking about is how Lambert’s songs would have knocked me on my heels when I was younger. I grew up in the era of… ugh… there’s got to be a term for it… like the female countrypolitan revival? You know Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood, Martina “My Baby Loves Me Just the Way that I am” McBride (as opposed to Martina “Someone died and it’s very sad” McBride). They were great, but they all seemed older and somewhat suburban. I don’t mean that as a putdown but just that they would have been a lot more comfortable in urban life than I would have at that age.
Lambert sounds like she’s singing to rural young women.
And one of the things I’ve been kind of struggling with is that I experience her as incredibly feminist. The first song on her new album is literally about it taking “All Kinds of Kinds” of people to make up the world–people who do strange things and fuck in strange ways. She has songs about knowing what she wants sexually and being unafraid to go for it. She has songs about realizing the guy you’re with is never going to change and that you deserve better. She has a song, “Mama’s Broken Heart,” about how times have changed and the demure together ways that women used to get their hearts stomped on does not cut it and she’s going to be pissed and fall apart instead. And, of course, there’s “Look at Miss Ohio,” which Lambert infuses with such richness that it stops me cold, about the twin desires to be “good,” to do right–what your momma and your boyfriend want–and to not do it right now.
To me, the idea that you deserve the chance to put your own needs first, to try for what you think might make you happy, even if it’s strange or inexplicable or improper is at the core of feminism.
And yet, I don’t really think Lambert would call herself a feminist. Maybe. But I don’t really know. It doesn’t actually matter to my point, which is that I sometimes think that I need to be more careful of the ways I am saying “you’re like me” (or the converse) without considering the other person’s perspective.
I see a lot in the feminist blogosphere how once someone has been identified as “like me,” that person gets held to the same internal rules that the identifier has made up for herself. Like I think I should write about how awesome Miranda Lambert is and I am a feminist and a blogger, other feminist bloggers who don’t write about how awesome Miranda Lambert is are doing it wrong.
I’m meandering a little here folks, obviously, but I think the root of all oppression is in the urge to be the boss of someone (or the feeling that you are rightfully the boss of someone). And “I understand you because you are like me” is a feeling that can easily lead into “Because you are like me and I understand you, you should do what I say.”
So, I’m not going to label Lambert a feminist. I don’t know. I think she’s making some incredibly feminist music, though, which is awesome.