Mir-an-da! Mir-an-da!

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.


18 thoughts on “Mir-an-da! Mir-an-da!

  1. It’s a pervasive logical fallacy that all human experience is like (or should be like) one’s own. In the 1620s, Francis Bacon talked about it as one of four “idols of the mind” responsible for errant judgment and yet, we’re no smarter four centuries later.

  2. Lambert does not identify as a feminist. Not even as an “I’m a Republican and we’re the real feminists because we are true to women’s real natures, and real women want all these limitations” sort of feminist. I’d go so far as to guess that she privately thinks that anyone who shares that pervasive logical fallacy, based on some things she’s said. She is, however, a pretty brilliant singer and songwriter.

  3. Oooh, major edit fail. Should have been “she privately shares that pervasive logical fallacy.” I’m gonna go back to being sick and not commenting.

  4. Nm, following your link and then hitting a few other links on your site (although for some reason your site’s layout doesn’t show up well on my work laptop, must be our network’s filters and such) I still didn’t find an answer to my question. However, I enjoy your quality writing!

    bridgett, I find Bacon’s Four Idols to be particularly relevant to my question as well.

  5. Only vaguely, tangentially related, by way of music, but I saw Lydia Loveless play in Nashville last week. If I was still writing Hardcore-Troubadours, I’d be all over this, but since I’m not I have no other outlet than to tell everyone they should listen to the song “Steve Earle” in the comments of other blogs. http://www.myspace.com/lydialoveless It’s not exactly feminist, but when you consider all Steve’s early stalking songs, it’s pretty nice female response. Anyway, B, the song strikes me as something you’d like.

  6. Oh, I love getting compliments. There’s nothing to apologize for. Just that in this case you ought to tell the person who deserves it.

  7. Crackerjackheart–that is amazing. And fun.

    Cracker, if there were an easy answer to your question, I suspect the fights among feminists would be a lot less vicious and a lot easier to understand.

  8. Spent about an hour going through the links and related articles. Had no idea of the amount of disagreement in the “community!” Quite fascinating.

    Although, it made me realize that there is really nothing that a man can do to many of those writers to gain any ounce of credibility or respect. It made me feel that, in order to become something these writers would accept, I’d have to have my balls cut off or be gay. In other words, men=threat and are therefore not welcome.

    As someone who deals with large organizations and behavior, I have found it wise practice to provide examples of what is good and right and not just examples of what is wrong or bad. In all of the articles/blods I read, I never was guided to do the right thing, never shown examples of what is acceptable.

    This goes just as well for any message – Tea Party, Postal Workers, Galactic Empire Bounty Hunter’s Union, Feminists, whatever.

  9. No, actually, this is what I think the problem is exactly. Not only do I not want you to be the boss of me, I don’t want to be the boss of you. There is no list of rules. There’s just me, as a person, wanting to be recognized as a person, not an object.

    I don’t want to come up with a list of rules for what men have to do because I don’t want to look at an individual I meet and say “Oop, yep, there’s a penis–here’s the slot (literal and metaphorical) he goes into.” I want to meet you as a person, not as a list of traits that I compare to my list of behaviors acceptable to enact on that list of traits.

    “You won’t give me a shortcut that lets me make broad generalizations about people based on their cunts” isn’t really the same thing as “men are a threat and not welcome.”

    Do you feel unwelcome here? If so, that’s on you, because I’ve been happy to see you and have you.

  10. Cracker, like much of life, learning to be an ally of women is a process of self-education and is pretty much specific to the women that you’re surrounding yourself with — see also “women have different ideas, wants, needs, etc” — so you’ll have to be responsible for writing your own individual user’s manual.

    However, there are plenty of recommendations floating around that are generally useful and might work for you as a starting point to get you thinking about what works for you and the women in your life. You can Google them under the phrase “how to be a feminist ally.” You’ll get some concrete examples of the sort you’re looking for with just a little effort on your part.

  11. Certainly not unwelcome here! (double negative for effect?) I was referring to the more, shall we say, definitive writers of the movement I was reading following the given links.

    Asking for examples is not the same as a list of rules. It is not a list of requirements. Many of the visited sites gave quite explicit lists of wrong things. Claiming specific “bad” things, without countering with what could have been appropriate or more acceptable, isn’t really being a part of the solution.

    Using the workplace as an example: I am (in a literal, employment sense) the boss of many people. I am also not the boss of many other people that I deal with in my corporation. Nevertheless, I try, and often fail, to provide a strong leadership example – an example of hopefully proper behavior for society and our worldwide workplace. There are no lists of what that is, no rules of “you must do XYZ to be a good leader.” There are examples; there are expectations.

    That is what I have found missing in the quick brush with my attempt to understand what is a feminist or feminism; an example of men’s behavior that would be acceptable or appropriate.

  12. Posted before reading Bridgett’s reply – you get my question entirely. Thanks for the support. Would never have thought of the phrase “feminist ally.”

  13. Since you seem to be asking for practical advice relevant to your workplace, this article (and particularly the last several pages of it) might be useful to as a brush-up on leadership/communication skills. It’s written for an academic setting, but working groups in corporations have overlapping communication concerns. The host site (National Organization of Men Against Sexism) also has some good resources, as you have time to explore them.


  14. Hey! That’s my blog!
    And when given the chance, on the record, in 2010, Lambert did not claim to be a feminist. She may have changed her mind since then…

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