August 3, 2012
Feminist Friday: Goodbye, Kitty Wells
On July 16th, we lost the Queen of Country Music, the woman who paved the way for Loretta, Tammy, Dolly, Reba, and a whole host of female country stars, and a Country and Western feminist ahead of her time in many ways. I had the privilege of standing in her presence as a child (somewhat ominously, apparently.) I'll always admire Kitty Wells for the courage it must have taken to sing some hard truths in an era when the darker side of American life was glossed over and spit shined, and for staying strong in the face of controversy when "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" was released in 1952. Banned by numerous radio stations and the Grand Ole Opry, the song was an answer to Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life". It seems 1950's America could handle songs about loose women, but when a female singer dared suggest that the blame for broken marriages and illicit affairs be equally shouldered by men, people lost their damn minds. (Fun fact: the song was actually penned by a man.) I wish we had progressed far, far beyond that in 2012, but recent attacks on women's rights suggest otherwise. There are those today who would happily return us to the time when Kitty sang, "It's a shame that all the blame is on us women".
Thank you for your music. Rest well, Miss Kitty.