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6 Ways The Dixie Chicks Defy Stereotypes of Southern Women

the dixie chicks

The Dixie Chicks have always been feminist country queens, and they are continuing to prove their feminist credentials on their current world tour. By showing preshow ads for Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign and Proclaim Justice, showing their support for the LGBT community, and performing in front of a yuuuge defaced picture of Donald Trump, the Dixie Chicks are turning their comeback tour into a progressive political statement.

But let’s not forget about their long history of defying the conservative submissive stereotype of southern women. Here are six ways the Dixie Chicks have rebelled against patriarchy and injustice throughout their careers.  

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1. Becoming the top selling all-female band of all time

The Dixie Chicks formed in 1989 as an all-female country quartette. By 1995 two of the band members had left and Natalie Maines became the new frontwoman. The Dixie Chicks went on to become the top selling all-female band of all time, breaking down patriarchal barriers of the music industry.

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2. Creating the album Home despite battles with their record company

In 2001 the Dixie Chicks sued Sony for underpaying them. They openly criticized Sony for disrespecting musicians and creating a bad reputation for the music industry. Around that same time, they began independently recording a new album that embraced their bluegrass country roots rather than falling into the trend of pop country. After settling out of court and gaining more control over their music, the Dixie Chicks released Home and held their middle fingers up to the Nashville music industry by gathering a few more Grammy Awards for their collection.   

3. Being badass musicians

Rarely in the pop music industry as a whole (but especially the country music industry) do we get to see an all-female band that is as successful AND as talented as the Dixie Chicks. Natalie Maines’ powerful lead vocals balanced out by the soft harmonies of the sisters Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire. The two sisters also kill it with their instruments, with Strayer on banjo, dobro and guitar, and Maguire on mandolin and fiddle. Together the band has conquered multiple genres including bluegrass, country, and rock.

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4. Releasing a multitude of feminist anthems

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Anyone who listens to the Dixie Chicks knows that a huge number of their songs have themes that challenge the gender norms of typical pop country music. Songs like “Long Time Gone,” “Wide Open Spaces,” “Taking the Long Way,” “Don’t Waste Your Heart” and “Some Days You Gotta Dance” are all about defying expectations and being adventurous women. “Truth No. 2” touches on the importance of holding to one’s own values. “Sin Wagon” and “Goodbye Earl” are about the righteous anger that comes from being mistreated or abused in a relationship. And of course, “Not Ready to Make Nice” is a powerful statement of resistance towards the country music industry that tried to silence them after Maines spoke out against the Iraq war in 2003.

5. Being unapologetically outspoken

Speaking about the Iraq War “incident” in 2003, the Dixie Chicks (Maines in particular) have never strayed from speaking their minds. After “the incident,” in which Maines proclaimed “We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas," the Dixie Chicks received a huge amount of backlash from the country music industry and from their conservative fan base. Stations stopped playing their music, people held demonstrations to burn their CD’s, and the band began receiving death threats. Despite the retaliation, the Dixie Chicks held strong in their position and continued to be outspoken in the media. Ten years later Maines was still refusing to shut up when she voiced her feminist leanings by singing at a pro-choice rally in Texas in 2013.

6. Releasing the album Taking the Long Way

Instead of letting their fall from grace hold them back after the 2003 “incident.” The Dixie Chicks channeled their anger and their songwriting chops into their next album. With all three of them having received writing credits on each song of the album, Taking the Long Way showed what could happen when three talented musicians come together to make music that stands up for what they believe in. 

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