At the end of our first class, Dr. Everbach told us to pay attention to the way different groups of people were portrayed in media. The first thing that came to mind was women in music. But I wasn’t thinking about hip-hop, rap, or rock ‘n roll. I was thinking about country music. Or what millennials think of as “country.” The country music of George Straight, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Johnnie Cash isn’t “hip’ any more among people who don’t have mullets. The country music of women who were valued for their talent instead of looks is virtually dead, save for award show lip service to the greats like Reba, Loretta Lynn and the Judds.
Instead, we have Florida Georgia line singing about partying, and Brantley Gilbert romanticizing bar fights and car chases with the cops. In fact, modern country music in general does a pretty good job of encouraging lawless, drunken behavior, and general atmosphere of dumb-ass-ery. This is the picture of what country music has become.
But an even more disturbing trend in modern country was recently tackled in a song by Maddie and Tae called “Girl in a Country Song.” Wait, you haven’t heard of Maddie and Tae?
Well, since Maddie and Tae aren’t promoting drunken blackouts or demeaning women by reducing them to a hot ass in a pair of Daisy Duke shorty-shorts, they don‘t really get the most airtime. Who wants to listen to socially conscious country music when hitting on chicks, dipping snuff and getting wasted in the bed of a truck is so much more fun?
And terms like “chick,” “baby,” “hot self,” or even “Georgia Peach” are not the extent of country music’s demeaning attitude toward women.
For example, look at Adam Hood’s 2014 hit, “Trying to Write a Love Song.” The song broke the top five in the Texas country charts. But there was one problem. No one questioned two lines in the second verse. The lines went as follows:
“That ain’t a dress, that’s an invitation. And it’s providing a lot of inspiration.”
Even before I was thinking critically about women’s representation in the media, I knew something was wrong with that line. Clothing is an invitation for sexual innuendo and propositioning? Good to know. The next time I see a girl wearing clothes, I’ll remember that it’s really an invitation to hit on her. And in the chorus of that same song, is the line,
“slide over, closer to where you belong, give me something I can use.”
In this case, “something I can use” actually refers to love song material. But still. It’s good to know that women “belong” in the cab of my truck whenever I decide to take a drive.
But don’t think I’m cherry picking here. Take a look at a few of country music’s top 25 songs last week as ranked by Billboard.
1. House Party – Sam Hunt
“You’re on the couch blowing up my phone, don’t want to come out but you don’t want to be alone. It don’t take but two to have a little soiree: if you’re in the mood, sit tight right where you are, babe.”
Not bad. Paternalistic? Yes. Portraying women as a bit ‘wishy washy?’ Yes. As bad as it gets? Nope.
9. Lose My Mind – Brett Eldridge
“You make me crazy and I kind of like it. You show me that apple, girl, and I want to bit it. So crazy that I got to have it. And I never want to get out of this straightjacket.”
A bit creepy, but we can do better.
10. Hell of a Night – Justin Lynch.
“So give me that ‘aww yea,’ and ‘take me there’ look. I’m a sucker for your kiss, want to steal them from your lips baby, like a crook.”
A bit chauvinistic. Let’s look some more.
11. Strip it Down – Luke Bryan.
“Let me run my fingers down your back, let’s whisper, let’s don’t talk. Baby, leave my t-shirt in the hall.” And then, “Cowboy boots by your little bare feet, let it out, tell me right now, everything I need in them white cotton sheets. Dirty dance me slow in the summertime heat, feel my belt turn loose from these old blue jeans.”
Okay, now we’re talkin’. A living, breathing sex toy immortalized in song. Let’s see what else the top 25 has to say about women.
16. Anything Goes – Florida Georgia Line.
“Girls headin’ off to the river yeah, Victoria’s Secret ain’t a secret no more.” And then, “Well baby you ain’t nothing’ but a masterpiece, swaying and sippin’ that Dos Equis, losin’ yourself in the big loud beat.”
18. Sangria – Blake Shelton.
“We’re buzzing like that ‘no vacancy’ sign out front. Your skin is begging to be kissed by a little more than the sun.”
21. Let Me See Ya, Girl – Cole Swindell
“Girl you’re tearin’ that dance floor up, let me see you do it in the back of my truck. You sure know how to shake it, alright. Let me see you do it in the Tennessee moonlight. Woah, baby let’s go down a little road nobody else knows. Just you and me park on the edge of the world. That’s how I want to see you girl. Yea, let me see you girl.”
23. Nothin’ Like You – Dan and Shay
“I remember when I first met you, sipping coffee in a corner booth. You were twirling your hair, and I just had to stare. For a minute or two, I was laughing at your stack of books. Then you shot me that smile. Hey beautiful girl, in your own little world, let me in.” And later, “When you’re wearing them worn-out jeans, purple untied shoestrings, you’re a light in the dark and you’re stealing my heart like a gypsy. I love that you kiss me in front of everybody. So baby come and kiss me. They ain’t ever seen nothin’.”
So as you can see, in today’s “bro-country” as it’s called, women are basically just attractive, butt-shakin’ truck-accessorizing bits of humanity in boots and tight denim. Women and their bodies are basically objectified and turned into the personal servants of the male singers. In fact, out of the top 25, only three songs were performed by females.
And those are only the most popular for this week. The objectification gets much worse if you look at the past few years. Just the title of Luke Bryan’s hit song “Shake it for Me” says all you need to know about the rest of that particular little ditty.
It’s no wonder Taylor Swift left country music.
But she’s fat and her boobs aren’t big enough anyway.