After a decades-long career, Dolly Parton has grown used to the rumors about her. Sometimes, she even uses them as a form of self-promotion. Early on in her life, however, she noted that many rumors were part of a double standard for women in country music. She shared that if even a portion of the things people said about her in the 1970s was true, she’d be far too worn out to produce music.
Though Parton has always shied away from calling herself a feminist, many people have given her the title. Even early in her career, Parton wasn’t afraid to call out the double standard for women, which made many people associate her with the Women’s Liberation movement. 
Dolly Parton in the 70s
“Just like up home, people thought if a woman had ever made a mistake in her life that she was nothing,” she said in 1971, per the book Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton. “A man could go out every week and have any woman he wanted. When he got ready to marry though, he had to have somebody untouched and all this. That just always bothered me. Because I don’t understand why that’s fair. I know it’ll always be that way cause the woman can’t do anything. The man can do anything — as far as morals.”
Even in 1971, toward the beginning of her career, Parton was the subject of many rumors. She explained that the prevalent double standard meant that people held her mistakes against her and circulated lies. She said that most of these were not true.
“I have a lot of things told on me against my morals which are not true,” she said. “I’m no angel, but if I’d done half the things I’ve been accused of I wouldn’t be sitting here, I’d be wore out somewhere — I’d be dead.”
She shared that the persistent rumors shaped how she interacted with men.
“I have a lot of things I like to talk about,” she explained. “Some of my very best friends are men because women — I like women cause I am one, my mother was one — but like if I have something to say, I don’t know that many women that would understand what I’m talking about businesswise or understand my ideas. So I might want to go somewhere and eat supper with a man friend. But I don’t very often. Cause if they see you with somebody — it has to be bad. A woman just don’t go out with a married man unless there’s something going on. It kinda irks me really to think that people are so narrow minded.”
Despite sharing that these rumors frustrated her, Parton dealt with them for years.
Eventually, however, Parton realized that she could use the stories about her to advance her career. Though she is married, Parton typically does not outright deny allegations of affairs. Often, they’re about her male costars or collaborators, and she feels that affair rumors will boost publicity.
Dolly Parton in the 70s.
41 career top-10 country albums, a record for any artist, and she has 110 career charted singles over the past 40 years.
“When I was on her tour, there was a headline that she and I were romantically involved,” Billy Ray Cyrus told Closer Weekly. “My manager took me to meet her for the first time and I said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ Dolly looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Honey, that s*** sells records!’”
Evidently, Parton found a way to turn her frustration into higher sales.
RELATED: Dolly Parton Shared the Meal That Saves Marriages: ‘You Can’t Go Wrong’


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