The late Loretta Lynn – pioneer of country music and FORCE of women’s empowerment.
Any conversation of Loretta Lynn’s greatest (and most controversial) moments would be remiss without the mention of her song, “Rated X” which drew attention to the lack of gender equality during the second wave of feminism in the ’60s and ’70s.
The song’s release was in direct response to the sexist-tinged negative treatment women faced after divorce, something that was still largely considered taboo in the era.
Loretta made her stance on the subject very clear with the lyrics:
“Well nobody knows where you’re goin’
But they sure know where you’ve been
All their thinkin’ of is your experience of love
Their minds eat up with sin
The women all look at you like you’re bad
And the men all hope you are
But if you go too far you’re gonna wear the scar…”
And contrary to what Loretta knew the men would think about a post-divorcee female, her lyrics staunchly disagree. Instead, she argues in favor of women put in that position by saying that people shouldn’t judge “every picture a cheap camera takes.”
In fact, the song likely originated from Loretta’s own tumultuous marriage, as many of her songs did. And although she herself never divorced, her husband was known for his less-than-admirable antics which included heavy drinking and infidelity.
It’s also likely that she considered leaving her own marriage plenty of times, and in the opening lines of this track she does encourage women in bad marriages to leave, reminding them that “divorce is key.”
Combined with its seemingly explicit title and its outright mention of sex, many radio stations refused to play the song, but Loretta didn’t seem to mind, releasing her most controversial track “The Pill” shortly after.
In addition to Loretta catching heat for the track in the 70s, the song was later revived by country star, Miranda Lambert, in 2015 after her notorious divorce from fellow country singer, Blake Shelton.
She performed the Loretta classic at the ACMs that year before presenting Loretta with the prestigious Crystal Milestone Award:
“Thank you, Miss Loretta, for that song, and being so brave, and paving the way for me to stand up here and sing a song like that. She sang songs that were not necessarily appropriate at times, like this for me.”
“I’m glad to be here singing for my friend.”