Feminism In Country Music

Country music doesn’t have much of a reputation for speaking out about gender equality and women’s rights. Songs like Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” definitely does not help this reputation.  For years women in the country music industry have written songs about men breaking their hearts, getting cheated on, and loving a man who isn’t kind or thankful. However, many female country music artists in the past as well as today are boldly speaking out about these issues.  Women have enhanced country music and have developed the genre into what it is today, so I believe that these women deserve some recognition.  I have developed a random list of a few country songs that I believe have made a significant contribution to spreading the idea of feminism in country music.

Maddie & Tae – “Girl In a Country Song”

This song was released in July, 2014 as their debut single.  It has been played over and over again on country music radio since its release.  These two girls wrote this song as a response to their frustration with Bro Country.  They were tired of girls being portrayed as sexual objects for many famous male performers.  Maddie & Tae use a sarcastic song to make fun of Bro Country and show the ridiculousness of many famous songs in this beloved sub-genre.  These girls express their feminist views with lyrics such as these: “We used to get a little respect / now we’re lucky if we even get / to climb in your truck, keep our mouth shut and ride along / and be the girl in a country song.”

Dolly Parton – “Just Because I’m a Woman”

“Just Because I’m a Woman” is apparently Dolly Parton’s response to a conversation with her husband about how many lovers they’d had in the past. It has a simple message, yet a powerful one.  Dolly says that just because she is a woman, her mistakes are no worse than her husband’s.  Released in 1968, this song made a splash and spoke about women’s rights long before people were ready to accept the message.

Shania Twain – “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”

Shania Twain is one of my favorite artists because her songs are easy to understand and enjoyable to listen to, but usually have a hidden message.  In this song, Shania is expressing her pride in being a woman.  Shania stands up for women’s right to have a good time without a man by saying, “No inhibitions, make no conditions / get a little outta line / I ain’t gonna act politically correct / I only want to have a good time.”  Songs like these paved the way for artists like Britney Spears and Carrie Underwood to be accepted into the music world as sassy, strong women.  Some people even believe that this song is also speaking about gays rights, which makes the song even more incredible.

Wanda Jackson – “My Big Iron Skillet”

“My Big Iron Skillet” is about a woman fed up with her husband’s philandering and mistreatment of her. Not that we condone beating your spouse with a skillet, obviously, but it shows a woman standing up for herself, and that’s a thing we can support.  Wanda says “And you think here at home is where I ought to be / There’s gonna be some changes made when you get in tonight / Cause I’m gonna teach you wrong from right.”  Wanda really knew how to assert herself as an independent woman back in a time when most women did not do this.

The Carter Family – “Single Girl, Married Girl”

The Carter Family probably wasn’t the first to sing this song, but it echoes the roots of feminism in country and folk music.  This song is a tale that warns women to savor their independence.  The single girl gets to flaunt her nice clothes while the married woman is left rocking a cradle and crying.  It’s definitely not a bad thing to be married, but the Carter Family just wants women to make something of themselves instead of depending on a man. This is one of the earliest feminist songs, making the Carter Family even more legendary.

Kacey Musgraves – “Follow Your Arrow”

Kacey Musgraves has a made a huge splash in the country music world by sharing her liberal views in a primarily conservative genre.  This song, “Follow Your Arrow” pushes people to do whatever makes them happy and not try to please others.  Although this song is a comment on gay rights and acceptance, I believe that it is also a very feminist song.  Kacey tells us to make lots of noise and kiss lots of boys, which was not an acceptable way for women to act in the past.


Filed under Lists, Politics, Song Analysis, Women

2 Responses to Feminism In Country Music

  1. Julianne Staine

    I think this is a really interesting point about country music and something that interests me too. I really like how you demonstrated that feminism is relevant in country music with these examples though. It would be interesting to see though how feminism is relevant in other genres too considering there aren’t too many rap songs that speak positively about women.

  2. Shannon Smith

    I really enjoyed reading your post and I loved listening to the different songs you posted. Women are definitely out numbered in the country music world, and the ones that do make it have to be young and beautiful. Male country singers come in all shapes and sizes, but the female artists don’t have that same luxury. I am glad that the female artists that have made it in the industry are not afraid to sing about ideas of feminism. I think Julianne brings up a good point about how we don’t see these women respectfully portrayed in rap music.

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