Southern Listenin'

July 28, 2014

I grew up (mostly) in the south. Right outside of Music CIty USA, which as an adult I now call home. I spent a good deal of my childhood running about barefoot, in hand me down cut offs with dirty knees and raggedy pig tails. My family is tried and true in that southern redneck tradition...which once I hit my teen years I realized was not really a safe place for me...there is a whole lot of inequality still alive and well in the south and I could paint you a million pictures of it, but that isn't what this post is all about. This post is about the new trend of popular country music that is (hopefully) about to explode its Feminism ALL OVER YOUR FACE.

 

 

My first personal interaction with this new movement came through a gorgeous blonde babe named Nicole Scott that I met when we were both playing extras in a too ridiculous for words country video. Her track Words is catchy and touching, her voice is poweful and beautiful. The message of regaining your own power over the way that you let other people's words change you isn't entirely feminist in nature, but it resonate when you think about where she is singing from. She isn't a household name, YET, but here's to hoping.

 

The first big time sensation of this brand of Grrl Power Country thats happening this summer was Kacey Musgraves. When I first heard her pop-alt-folk-country-whatever label you want to put to it track Follow Your Arrow, I was smitten. A song that has a definite country twang saying its cool if you're gay? SOLD. But the video fell flat for me, it's a great intro video of Kacey being goofy and adorable with her band, but I really wish they had actually depicted the message she is delivering. That is where music video magic really could have happened with a song like that.

 

And a few weeks ago I was pointed towards Kira Isabella's Quarterback. While I do have a few problems with this one, it's overall point is an amazing one for a you woman in the country scene to be so vocal about. The dismissal of consent and the public shaming of women for many reasons are RAMPANT problems in today's country music scene.

 

But my new favorite, no question, is the smack down delivered by 19 & 18 year old Maddie & Tea to the obnoxius bro-country wave that has overtaken the scene since I stopped paying attention all those years ago. (I am sure people will tell me it's not ALL like that...cool story, STOP.) These girls are coming out of the gate kicking up a shitstorm in their cowboy boots. And it's amazing. They even take a few amazingly well played shots at some of the biggest names (and offenders) in the bro-country scene. And I love it. I can't explain how great I think it is that they attack SO MANY of the things popular country has decided are it's only approved gender roles. Which is why the video is so amazing, they LITERALLY flip the role reversal switch. And the men cast in the video SLAY. 

 

Growing up in the south, that video and the song itself speak to so many experiences I have had, while throwing back to male performers who didn't outright objectify women over and over.

 

Aww no, Conway and George Strait 
Never did it this way
Back in the old days
Aww y'all, we ain't a cliché 
That ain't no way 
To treat a lady 

 

THAT. I grew up listening to country music that MOST DEFINITELY has it's issues when it comes to the depection of women by it's male stars, but it is a whole new world now. The stars are still predominately male, but they way they depict and speak of women is far more objectifying. And we don't have as many powerful female country stars. Granted I have only very recently started paying attention again, but todays teenage female country fans don't have Reba to sing about being a teenage sex worker in order to find a better life, there is no modern day Dolly espousing the rigors of the 9-5 or shutting down slut shaming with Just Because I'm a Woman, the DIxie Chicks spoke too loudly of their own views and were shunned. Where is our modern day Loretta singing The Pill?

 

The women have always been here, and it has always been more difficult (in all genres of music and walks of life) for them to be taken seriously and achieve the success of their male counterparts, so it's not surprise that with the influx of mysoginstic bros in the scene, the women are a bit scarce. But it is SO thrilling to see a new crop of young and empowered women finding their footing in the good ole boy world of Nashville's Music Row to sass the SHIT out of them. It is amazingly heartening to hear songs like Girl in a Country Song. Especially when it is the FIRST single from a duet of STILL TEENAGE GIRLS.

 

I am building an entire country stacked burlesque class and this is definitely going to be in our warm up.  

 

 

And in case you want a little more (and some of the above mentioned, they were actuall on this rad thing!!) listening to Feminist Country music, this is a great read & listen: http://flavorwire.com/250751/a-feminist-guide-to-country-music/view-all

 

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