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.