Stop telling female artists to ‘shut up and sing,’ from Beyoncé to Taylor Swift

In the Venn diagram of Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and the Dixie Chicks, a few elements overlap – Beyoncé and Swift’s shared affinity for thigh-high boots, the Dixie Chicks and Swift’s shared country-music influences, and the legendary performance of “Daddy Lessons” that Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks gifted fans in 2016.

In the middle of that Venn diagram, though, is a shared experience that’s considerably less rosy. As the midterm elections approach in a social climate that seems like it’s never been more politicized, this group of musicians and the controversies they’ve weathered show that it’s never been a convenient time to be a female musician voicing her political views, from the Dixie Chicks’ Nashville exile to #BoycottBeyoncé. 

“Like another lifetime” is how Emily Strayer of the Dixie Chicks described her group’s embroilment in a 2016 New York Times interview. And yet, it’s impossible to talk about the Dixie Chicks – Strayer, Martie Maguire and Natalie Maines –  without talking about the incident that temporarily turned them into pariahs, when Maines criticized President George W. Bush and the Iraq War onstage in 2003.

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