I recently heard a song on the radio by an up-and-coming country artist named RaeLynn. I don’t typically watch much television, so at the time I wasn’t aware that she was previously a contestant on The Voice. As I listened to her bubble-gum country voice, singing her song called “God Made Girls,” I became more and more puzzled. Thoughts began swimming through my head and I couldn’t decide if I should change the radio station in protest, or finish the rest of the song that insulted me more and more as the seconds passed by. Let me explain.
Growing up I loved Patsy Cline. One of my earliest childhood videos is of me singing to a video of Patsy Cline at the Grand Ole Opry. So I guess it goes without saying that I also grew up listening to country music, and it’s something that I consider to be a large part of my musical tastes now as an adult. However, as a bleeding-heart liberal I don’t always feel welcome by country music or other country music fans. That is not to say that there aren’t many other versions of me floating around, but check out the tailgate at the next Jason Aldean concert and you’ll see what I mean. My Prius with it’s Obama 2012 bumper-sticker isn’t exactly as at home as it might be in the Whole Foods parking lot.
Recently, a new duo called Maddie and Tae came out with their hit “Girl in a Country Song” and it brought to my attention an issue that my feminist brain had failed to register before: the image of women in modern country music is nothing more than that of a “tan-legged Juliet” who wears cut-off jeans and rides around in her man’s pick-up truck. Although the realization made me a little sick, I felt somewhat relieved that the song managed to gain popularity and shed light on an issue that, as women, we are still fighting to address every single day. This was a positive. This was a victory!
Then I heard “God Made Girls.”
“God Made Girls” is essentially a song about what God made girls to do. Lets cut to the chase here. According to RaeLynn, God made girls to: wear skirts, flirt, drag her man to church, convince her man to wash his truck, and to be the one to cry in the relationship so the man doesn’t have to. I’m sorry but if I have to wear skirts and be in a relationship with a man who drives a muddy F-250, and doesn’t cry, then you can count me out. Plus I’m terrible at flirting.
This song is dangerous. This isn’t just dangerous to me because I consider myself a feminist. It is dangerous to all women, and to all men who have women in their lives that they care about. It is dangerous to every person in this country who believes in equality and women’s rights. It exacerbates the results of years of negatively socializing us to devalue women as a less capable faction of society. It perpetuates dangerous stereotypes that will hurt our daughters. It tells my five and six-year-old nieces who love Ninja Turtles and believe they can do anything boys can do, that they are, in fact, wrong. Its message is dangerous for our advancement as a developed country in a globalized world.
Maybe you think I’m being dramatic, but women are at the center of our politics, our economics, and our technological and medicinal advancements. And just ask one of the most accomplished women in our country about whether or not she feels like God made her to wear a pretty skirt, and I guarantee that she will tell you she prefers a pant-suit.