By Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Journalist
Female empowerment and country music are not usually two things you find together. Most country songs objectify women, while female country musicians and singers are not played on the radio near as often as their male counterparts. In 2015 radio executive Keith Hill said he advises his stations to only have women country artists as 15 percent of their playlist.
Keith Urban broke the norm Nov. 9 at the Country Music Awards (CMAs) when he performed his new single, “Female.” Urban decided to release “Female” as a response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The song details all the roles women play, calls out victim blaming and empowerment of women.
While the song has had many critics, I am excited and proud of Urban’s decision to release the song. I was raised listening to country music and have loved it all my life. As I have gotten older, though, I have realized how many modern country songs objectify women and that country radio puts female artists on the backburner.
I find Urban’s song “Female” important for many reasons. One of which is that it is so rare for country artists to speak out about hot button issues. It is very important for such a prominent country artist to start this conversation for the genre. Urban made this song a priority, he stopped working on his new album to record this song. He has the potential to be a catalyst for change in the country music world.
One of the most important things I find in the song is that Urban calls out victim blaming point blank. He sings, “When somebody laughs and implies that she asked for it, just cause she was wearing a skirt, is that how that works?” in the second verse. Victim blaming is an issue nationwide, and through those lyrics Urban can reach a different audience than most singers who sing about female empowerment.
Many women have come before Urban with feminist country anthems, such as Shania Twain’s “She’s Not Just a Pretty Face” and Martina McBride’s “Independence Day.” A few female country artists have broken the glass ceiling and become country superstars, such as Kelsei Ballerini, Kasey Musgraves and Maren Morris, although they are less prevalent and played far less than the male country superstars.
While many criticize Urban and say that he is a “day late and a dollar short” and he has made this all about himself, I am elated he took a stand in an industry that suppresses women’s voices rather than lifts them. I think it’s better late than never and I’m glad he is using his platform for good. Now I hope many more artists follow and lift up their female colleagues and pressure radio stations to play their female colleagues as well.