My first experience with listening to the music of Gretchen Wilson, was in 2004 when her song, “Redneck Woman” was played nationwide over country radio stations. She broke the boundaries of what women in music are supposed to be singing about. She did not want to conform to the ‘glamourous’ lifestyle most musicians choose to adhere to. Her music which some may refer to as ‘rough around the edges’ breaks the stereotype of what society expects women to be. She believes that women should just be themselves and do what makes them happy, even if it is not what the societal norm is. She has been described as a “working class feminist for the post feminist age” (Thom Jurek).
Although most her songs talk about breaking the boundaries of what is socially acceptable for women I am including two of her songs that I feel do this the best. The first song is titled “California Girls”. In the second verse and chorus the lyrics are as follows:
“There ain't nothing wrong with plastic surgeryWell Dolly Parton never looked so good to meEverybody ought to be exactly who they want to beBut that Paris Hilton Gets under my skinWith her big fake smile and and her painted on tanShe'd never have a chance at a real manAin't you glad we ain't all California girlsAin't you glad there's still a few of us left.That know how to rock your worldAin't afraid to eat fried chicken and dirty dance to MerleAin't you glad we ain't all California girls”In a sense this song does somewhat stereotype the typical California women but it also is somewhat of a statement saying, listen up ladies we don’t have to be thin, tan, and only eat salads to be desirable.
Another song that I previously mentioned that fights for social justice is “Redneck Woman”. This song talks about how lower social class women are just as capable and attractive as those of higher social classes. To display how see states these ideals I have included part of this song below:
“Well, I ain't never been the Barbie doll typeNo, I can't swig that sweet Champagne, I'd rather drink beer all nightIn a tavern or in a honky tonk or on a four-wheel drive tailgateI've got posters on my wall of Skynyrd, Kid and StraitSome people look down on me, but I don't give a ripI'll stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip'Cause I'm a redneck womanI ain't no high class broadI'm just a product of my raisingI say, 'hey ya'll' and 'yee-haw'And I keep my Christmas lights onOn my front porch all year longAnd I know all the words to every Charlie Daniels songSo here's to all my sisters out there keeping it countryLet me get a big 'hell yeah' from the redneck girls like me, hell yeahVictoria's Secret, well their stuff's real niceBut I can buy the same damn thing on a Wal-Mart shelf half priceAnd still look sexy, just as sexy as those models on TVNo, I don't need no designer tag to make my man want meWell, you might think I'm trashy, a little too hardcoreBut in my neck of the woods I'm just the girl next door”
Women in lower economic classes rarely get public recognition or the chance to be heard by people nationwide. Musicians like Gretchen Wilson give hope to those that do not have the luxuries and amenities that members of higher social classes have. For people of high social classes, hearing her lyrics may be offensive but it serves as a reminder that there is nothing that really makes them better than anyone else.
I think the most musicians like Gretchen would help the world become a more equal place. She speaks for those who do not have the opportunity to and for that I respect and commend her.
Additional Links to songs and other sources: