Feminist Mixtape: “The Pill” by Loretta Lynn

In our society, women are expected to want nothing more than to have kids and stay at home to take care of them, whereas men’s work for the family is considered done once the child is conceived. No one bats an eye when fathers spend most of their time out of the house while the mother is always at home with the kids. Many women resent this expectation and wish to be able to be more than mothers and have other life experiences and careers. In her song “The Pill”, Loretta Lynn condemns the way in which women are expected to be mothers and nothing else. She celebrates her newfound access to ‘the pill’, as in the birth control pill, that has given her her freedom back in the sense that she now has autonomy over her own body and reproduction. This control over her life allows her to choose to be more than just a mother and do the things that she has always wanted to do.

She reveals how she has felt that she was treated like an animal with the line “you’ve set this chicken your last time”, in which she demonstrates how she feels as if she’s been seen as a farm animal whose only job is to reproduce. In this way, she describes how she’s felt more like a body than a person. She recounts how “all these years I’ve stayed at home while you had all your fun” and she was forced to be the only one taking care of her children while her husband could leave the house to have fun, and that now that she can control whether or not she has kids, she can enjoy all of the things that life has to offer that she was unable to before. Not to mention the physical and economic toll that comes with giving birth, as Lynn feels that “all I’ve seen of this old world, Is a bed and a doctor bill”. Women are forced to deal with the effects of being pregnant and having children, and thus this is why it is so important for people who are able to get pregnant to access to birth control methods that allow them to choose when they want to pregnant or not. This is a problem that is still prevalent today as the debates about reproductive rights, Planned Parenthood services, and abortions are all topics of political debates in which women’s access to these fundamental services is revoked.

As a wealthy white woman, Lynn’s song most closely resembles the first-wave feminism movement in which white women were the central figures and women of color were pushed to the wayside. Lynn neglects to reveal anything about the expectations for white women versus women of color and the intersectionality that is so clearly present between gender and race. In addition, birth control is not accessible to all people who need it and wealthy women are going to be more likely to have access to these reproductive products than women of low socioeconomic status. LGBTQ perspectives are also important to consider, as we need to remember that women are not the only people who require these types of reproductive products and transgender individuals are likely to have even more trouble gaining access to birth control methods. While Lynn provides an important perspective on how autonomy over our own reproductive processes can lead to a plethora of new opportunities for women, there is much to feminism that is not represented in her song.

7 thoughts on “Feminist Mixtape: “The Pill” by Loretta Lynn

  1. This is a really interesting song analysis in the context of all we have learned about intersectionality in reproductive justice. Before this class, I had no idea that birth control methods were often weaponized against women of color, which is often missing from white women’s narrative around birth control. However, I can see how, in Loretta Lynn’s life experience, having choice over whether or not she wants to have children would be extremely freeing.

  2. I had never heard of this song before and when I looked it up, I was surprised to learn that it was made in 1975. It makes me wonder if Lynn made this song to coincide with the feminist movement in the 1970s when individuals were fighting for the passage of the ERA and Betty Friedan released the “Feminist Mystique.” It seems very clear that Lynn wanted to rebel against the traditional norm of women as mothers. She definitely doesn’t recognize the lack of access of birth control for women of color, which seems fitting with the feminist ideology of the time. After all, this recognition was completely absent from Betty Friedan’s work that we read in class.

  3. Thank you for sharing this analysis! I found it very interesting. I had never heard this song before reading about it here. I listened to the song after reading, and I definitely agree with your analysis. I specifically found the references to chickens and hens especially interesting. With that said, I’m curious if society actually progressed as much as Loretta Lynn anticipated. With abortion access being restricted today, do you think Loretta Lynn’s anticipated progress has been achieved?

  4. I have never heard this song before but found your analysis very interesting, especially considering modern issues with bodily autonomy. It is crazy to me that this singer was praising her access to the birth control pill in 1975, nearly fifty years ago, and now we are concerned about the repercussions of overturning Roe v. Wade, and what that could mean for Griswold v. Connecticut. It feels as though society is moving backwards and everyone needs to listen to this song to be reminded of the importance of bodily autonomy and privacy. However, I recognize that the artist is a white woman who could easily obtain birth control, and that is not as simple for people of a lower socioeconomic status. Instead of limiting these resources, we should work to make contraceptives and abortions more accessible to everyone so that any member of our society could sing this song.

  5. Great work! I’ve never listened to or heard of this song, but it is really cool to learn about. It is also pretty interesting to think about how revolutionary and life-changing the pill was for women in the 1970s.

  6. This is a great analysis of this song. I feel like the song’s message is very important, as women having control over their bodies is something that they are continuing to tirelessly fight for today. It is interesting to see how praise for the birth control pill was given in this song, as having access to birth control feels like part of the bare minimum when it comes to women having control over their bodies. In some ways, it feels as though society today has made little progress in fighting for women’s access to birth control and abortions.

  7. This is a really good analysis, and I want to listen to this song. It is especially pertinent today with the fight for abortion rights and control over women’s bodies. It is interesting to see a song from back when the pill was introduced and how freeing that was for women. However, it is disheartening that women are still fighting for these rights.

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