After 40 months – more than three years – no-one has been settled on Manus Island. The few in Port Moresby are struggling to survive. Now several more of us have been attacked by local people who do not want us here. Therefore we can only say that we are official hostages.
We were part of the anti-Vietnam War movement and we were angry. For more than a year LBJ had been escalating the war in Vietnam. US planes were bombing large swathes of Vietnam back to the Stone Age (to use a phrase attributed to US air force chief Curtis LeMay). Hundreds of thousands of American troops were battling peasant guerrillas in the paddy fields and jungles of Vietnam and villages were being napalmed.
But can the UBI give all that is promised? I no longer think so. Indeed, the model currently proposed has the potential to strengthen racist policies, increase exploitation of migrants, escalate the environmental impacts of our current economic system, and further wealth disparity both locally and globally.
There’s a gentle yearning in her voice, as it floats above the barest guitar. She launches into a loving tribute to womanly stoicism, devotion to home and family, building a portrait of the kind of woman who ‘didn’t mind just staying home’. As the list of unremarkable sacrifices grows, we’re reassured she doesn’t mind: ‘If she did, she never did say so to Daddy.’ After a few repetitions, a sentimental ache takes hold. It will take a while, a few plays, to hear that uneasy qualification hiding easily in the opening words, as if just slipped in to help it scan.
The provocation of whether or not Dolly Parton is a feminist is less interesting to me than the idea that she embodies a certain type of female influence not owned by those more affluent or academic. What’s interesting to me is not whether or not she calls herself a feminist, but how she is an example of the ways in which many working-class people I know are empowered women whose lives are examples of the merits of feminism, even if they do not express it in the ways currently popular in contemporary discourse.