Category Archives: women

The (31) Number One Female Country Songs since 2004: Summed Up by Yours Truly

2014-01-27_cw04-coverIn January, Country Weekly claimed 2014 to be the Year of the Woman in country music.

I replied with a new piece for The Ethos Review about how 2014… isn’t. Going. To be.

[O]ver the last ten years, songs by female artists make up only ten percent of country music’s number one hits (31 of 289). If that weren’t enough, these songs reached number one in part because they perpetuate country’s female stereotypes: 22 of them follow the cash cow country music narrative in which women do nothing but long for men, fall for “bad boys,” and marry uber-young.

Yes, I’m picking on country music for an issue that occurs in other genres. But country’s got an extra special dearth of gender equality. (Also, the Country Weekly headline kind of asked for it.)

The (31) Number One Female Country Songs since 2004:

(Total Number One Country Songs since 2004: 289)

2004 (4 out of 18)

Redneck Woman, Gretchen Wilson – In which the narrator confirms for all country-listening men that women are exactly what they think: happy in a small town, and ready to have sex. And babies.

Somebody, Reba McEntire – Listeners are encouraged to find a life-long love among whomever they happen to regularly run into in their small town.

Girls Lie Too, Terri Clark – Here women are empowered not by actually having power, but by lying to please the men who do.

Suds in the Bucket, Sara Evans – A country music favorite: young marriage. An 18-year-old falls in love and gets married, right out of daddy’s house.

2005 (3 out of 19)

My Give A Damn’s Busted, Jo Dee Messina – One of a few #1 hits in which a woman is not only angry at her man, but willing to leave him. For that, kudos.

Mississippi Girl, Faith Hill – in which Hill assures her fans that she really hasn’t had ambitions beyond her small town, and even if she’s “pursuin’ her dreams,” she’s (really truly she promises) exactly the same as she was back in Mississippi.

A Real Fine Place to Start, Sara Evans – In which Evans confirms that small town country gals really are enamored of men who whisk them off for sex out under the stars. In the bed of a truck, one assumes.

2006 (2 out of 22)

Jesus, Take the Wheel, Carrie Underwood – in which the narrator gives control of her life back over to God. Advocating for Christian faith is part of a longstanding recipe for country success, so this doesn’t stray from any Country Expectations. But no real complaints.

Before He Cheats, Carrie Underwood – This narrator is willing to do anything to get back at the man who’s cheating on her… except leave him. The song gives the impression of badassery, only to affirm the woman’s dependence on her cheatin’ man. She can mess up his truck, but she apparently can’t go anywhere. The song (and its video) also manages to make female revenge sexy rather than legitimately threatening. #revengefail

2007 (3 out of 25)

Wasted, Carrie Underwood – A rare anti-settling, anti-just-getting-wasted-to-deal-with-things song that made #1. Kudos.

So Small, Carrie Underwood – A nice “everything will be alright if you focus on love” tune that repeats a great deal of trite Christian genre content. Nevertheless a step up from high fivin’ with beers around a truck on a back road. Does not in any way stray from country music standards, but – no real complaints.

Our Song, Taylor Swift – In which the narrator confirms every male country writer’s notion of the ideal girl: the one who wants to go for a drive (she rides shotgun, obvs) and sneak behind her parents’ backs with a boy of whom they apparently disapprove. Pair with the 1st verse to the Cole Swindell’s “Chillin’ It” for a match made in country heaven.

2008 (5 out of 25)

All-American Girl, Carrie Underwood – The antithesis of Musgraves’ “Merry Go Round” in which a girl falls in love at 16, assumes this boy is the best she’ll find, and gets married in a hurry – causing her boyfriend to lose his “free ride” to college. His dismissal of college in favor of youthful marriage (and a Musgraves-ian “having two kids by 25”) is celebrated as being all-American. (Also note that the girl herself has zero college aspirations. Marryin’ Young + Childbearin’ = All American Country Girl.)

Last Name, Carrie Underwood – Again, Underwood reps women as precisely the sex-eager fantasy girls represented in most male-penned country hits: girls who “lose their manners” over alcohol, get themselves lured into casual sex with who-cares-whom, get married in a rush, and have little to say later but “oh darn.”

Should’ve Said No, Taylor Swift – Ah! A woman who tells a cheatin’ man both what he should have done AND that she won’t give him a next time to do it. Kudos.

Just a Dream, Carrie Underwood – In a saccharine lyric playing on both young country love and military valor, a female narrator gets married as soon as she turns 18 (big surprise), and two weeks later her man has died in combat. Note that the young man is depicted as doing something quite honorable, while the young woman’s role is simply to wait back at home for him.

Love Story, Taylor Swift – In which Swift falls prey to the country-hit method of celebrating far-too-young marriage. She also manages to imply that women can’t take care of themselves (need daddy’s permission, need saving by a lover).

2009 (2 out of 30)

You Belong with Me, Taylor Swift – At least the two high school lovers aren’t getting married (yet), but here’s a young woman centering her life on a guy who doesn’t appreciate her. But it’s okay; she’ll just wait until he comes around. It’s not like she has anything or anyone else going on in her life.

Cowboy Casanova, Carrie Underwood – Ms. Underwood’s specialty is confirming the male country vision of women, which is in part why her songs become hits. This one’s no different: the narrator describes a “cowboy casanova” in such a way that her “complaints” about him make him sound exactly like what every male country writer thinks men are: so sexually irresistible that they consistently make girls go against their better judgment.

2010 (2 out of 28)

The House that Built Me, Miranda Lambert – A sentimental tune about a woman who tries to find herself by visiting to the home in which she grew up. While relatively harmless, it does affirm the country music belief that when you go out traipsin’ around the world, you lose something essential. (Better get on back to that small town.)

Undo It, Carrie Underwood – Like Swift’s “Should’ve Said No,” this song portrays a woman who stands up for herself and refuses to stay with a guy who “blew it.” Kudos. (Although by this point, if you’re like me, you’re wondering whether women can express strength in any way other than by getting rid of no-good men. This solitary version of Woman Power is getting pretty old.)

2011 (4 out of 34)

Turn On the Radio (Reba McEntire) – Ms. McEntire, always slightly less likely to give men their fantasy version of femalehood, here gives one the middle finger by suggesting that if he wants to hear her, he can just turn on the radio. Kudos. But sigh with the leavin-the-no-good-men thing.

A Little Bit Stronger (Sara Evans) – This narrator put up with an awful lot before she finally let go, but she did it. And she’s stronger without him: kudos. But.

Heart Like Mine (Miranda Lambert) – Like Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel,” it’s hard for country to resist a song that incorporates Jesus. This one’s no exception; not only is the woman tantalizingly different from the typical, “respectable” small-town girl, she loves her both some alcohol AND some Jesus. Hit song.

Sparks Fly (Taylor Swift) – In which Taylor’s female narrator again fits everything male country writers describe them to be: eager for sex, open to doing something they know they “shouldn’t,” and reliant on men to make life bearable.

2012 (5 out of 36)

Ours, Taylor Swift – Here the woman is her man’s comforter, assuring him that their love is everything, and other people’s judgments don’t matter. Relatively harmless, but certainly not straying from the country music narrative.

Over You, Miranda Lambert – Hard not to sympathize with a narrator who’s dealing with the grief of loss. It doesn’t stray from the country music narrative, but – no complaints.

Good Girl, Carrie Underwood – As in “Cowboy Casanova,” Underwood again tries to warn female listeners about a(n irresistible) “bad boy.” And like the cowboy tune, one can’t help but assume that a lot of male listeners will like the idea of being an irresistible bad boy with whom all kinds of good girls fall in love despite themselves. This track wins the Utter Ew Award with, “You want a white wedding and a hand you can hold / Just like you should, girl / Like every girl does.” #girlpowerfail

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Taylor Swift – Swift tells the male both that he sucks and that he’s gone. Kudos.

Blown Away, Carrie Underwood – As an activist myself re: domestic violence, I appreciate the courage of this song’s representation of abuse – particularly as one of the many dangers of alcoholism. I also hope country writers and listeners who sympathize with this narrative will reassess their devotion to celebrating alcohol-as-coping-mechanism. (Not holding my breath.)

2013 (1 out of 44)

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Taylor Swift – A holdover hit from 2012 (see above). And yes, the only #1 track by women in 2013.

2014 (out of 8 so far)

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Because obvs women aren’t in charge lolz

Okay, there’s already a pile of responses to Mike Huckabee’s LIBIDOFFENSE 2014. But having now heard Allen West’s “thoughtful” additions, I have to ask:

Can we talk about how even the language used by conservatives constantly excludes women from positions of influence, placing them at the mercy of (male) lawmakers?

Exhibit A, Huckabee: “[W]omen are far more than the Democrats have played them to be. And women across America have to stand up and say enough of that nonsense.”

Exhibit B, Allen West: “the left tries to win the women’s vote by talking from the waist down. What we have to do on our side as conservatives … we have to talk to their heart and we have to talk to their mind”

Both men seem to think that the category of “women” and “democrats” have no one in common: there are democrats, and then there are the women democrats portray as Outta Control. And it apparently works the other way, too: there are conservatives, and then there are the women conservatives must appeal to by speaking “above the waist.”

fragile femalehood

Meanwhile, how often do politicians, on either side of the aisle, question how a political party (or its agenda) is portraying males? How much “concern” is there that men are being disrespected or undermined by political decisions? WHO WILL FIGHT FOR ENDANGERED MALE HONOR??

But seriously, when we switch the gender of politicians’ supposed concern, we can readily recognize a gross inequality that ignores women’s subjectivity, competency, and political presence.

These latest (hilarious) republican attempts to not be anti-woman reveal, in their very grammar, a view of women as outsiders — in need of men to make and enforce laws that pander to them, “win them over,” portray them “respectfully,” and even apologize to them for the other party’s failure to “get it.”

Yes, our numbers in Congress have been kept dismally low. But hey men. We’re right here. We can hear you. We may even be lawmaking like, right next to you.

It’s time to stop using “we” when talking about lawmakers, and “them” when talking about women.

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white privilege wears many hats

Does white privilege apply even to “broke white people”? From TheFeministBreeder.com, here’s a quick yet insightful discussion of white privilege from the pov of a white woman who “came from the kind of Poor that people don’t want to believe still exists in this country.” Author Gina Crosley-Corcoran begins,

Have you ever spent a frigid northern Illinois winter without heat or running water? I have. At twelve years old, were you making ramen noodles in a coffee maker with water you fetched from a public bathroom? I was. Have you ever lived in a camper year round and used a random relative’s apartment as your mailing address? We did. Did you attend so many different elementary schools that you can only remember a quarter of their names? Welcome to my childhood.

So when that feminist told me I had ‘white privilege’, I told her that my white skin didn’t do shit to prevent me from experiencing poverty. Then, like any good , educated feminist would, she directed me to Peggy McIntosh‘s 1988 now-famous piece, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”

Read and respond to Crosely-Corcoran’s piece here.

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placebo for rape terror

Um PlaceboHere’s this, that you should read. (I’ll wait.)

Because seriously, for the thousandth time:

We should be able to be frightened by violence — to look at it, talk about it, work with it — without retreating into jokes and denial.
If we can’t, we should be creating communities of support that make such reality-gazing possible.

The method of dealing with our terror by blaming violence on its victims — Sure, this method works… if by “works” we mean, “makes us feel better via the numbing effect of denial and other-ing.”

If by “works” we instead mean, “keeps us legitimately safe,” or “makes us better people,” or “builds compassion” or “decreases overall violence in our communities and society,” the victim-blaming method is, objectively, a massive failure.  To pretend otherwise is to put one’s need for pretend momentary safety above one’s need for actual, legitimate safety, and/or for effective, caring support when that safety is savagely compromised.

The cost of victim-blaming is compassion. And a grasp on reality. And any effectiveness in the realm of human rights.
Please, stand in the terror. Look at it, work with it, speak it. The numbed-out words are meaningless.

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Why Teaching Equality Hurts Men

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

Don’t let the title put you off. This isn’t what you think.

With few exceptions, there comes a point in every little girl’s life when she first suffers exclusion on the basis of gender. For me, this happened regularly in primary school sports: the boys didn’t like it when I wanted to play cricket, and would actively gang up to ensure I was either kept away from the bat or relegated to the furthest reaches of the outfield. Children aren’t paragons of political correctness: unlike later in life, I knew definitively then that gender was the reason for this behaviour, because I was openly told as much. Over and over again, whether it was soccer or cricket or handball or football or some other thing the boys were doing, I had to fight for inclusion, because even at the tender ages of seven and eight and nine, boys knew

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A “Rape-Victims List” for sale by a Data Broker… Hey, only $79.

In the realm of “Are you kidding me?” —

The following was written by Elizabeth Dwoskin, posted on WSJ Blogs:

“Data Broker Removes Rape-Victims List After Journal Inquiry”

A marketing company purporting to sell lists of rape and domestic violence victims removed the lists from its website Wednesday after being contacted by The Wall Street Journal.

Medbase200, a Lake Forest, Ill., company that sells marketing information to pharmaceutical companies, had been offering a list of “rape sufferers” on its website, at a cost of $79 for 1,000 names.

The company also removed lists of domestic violence victims, HIV/AIDS patients and “peer pressure sufferers” that it had been offering for sale, until it was contacted by the Journal.

The rape-victims list was first disclosed by Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, at a Senate hearing Wednesday about the data-broker industry. Ms. Dixon could not be reached for comment after her testimony.

The hearing was part of a Senate Commerce Committee investigation into the data-broker industry. In a report Wednesday, the committee said marketers maintain databases that purport to track and sell the names of people who have diabetes, depression, and osteoporosis, as well as how often women visit a gynecologist. The report said individuals don’t have a right to know what types of data the companies collect, how people are placed in categories, or who buys the information.

Medbase200, a unit of Integrated Business Services Inc., sells lists of health-care providers and of people purportedly suffering from ailments such as diabetes and arthritis to pharmaceutical companies.

In an interview, Integrated Business Services President Sam Tartamella initially denied that his company maintained or sold databases of rape victims. After the Journal provided him a link to the “rape sufferers” page, he said he would remove it from Medbase200′s website. The page was removed later Wednesday.

In a subsequent email conversation, Tartamella said the company had never maintained an actual list of rape victims. “No one has ever leased, rented or otherwise acquired such a file from our firm, ever,” he said.

He said a “hypothetical list of health conditions/ailments was used as a hypothetical” file for an internal test. “Apparently, that ‘test’ datacard was never removed after the website went live,” he wrote.

Tartamella said he was combing through his company’s website to ensure “that other errors are not present.”

To compile its lists of patients, Tartamella said the company used direct surveys, along with proprietary models that could not be shared.

Note: This post has been updated to reflect that Medscape200 also removed a list of HIV/AIDS patients that had been on its website.

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Using Words

“As long as I can, I will take what I feel, use it to face what I am able to know, find language, and write what I think must be written for the freedom and dignity of women.”


AndreaonCrete1966MI don’t agree with everything 
Andrea Dworkin has written, but this, yes. Yes.

Taken from “My Life As a Writer,” in Life and Death.

 

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Perhaps We’ll Be Totally Harmless.*

But consider our vibrant bass for details,
The drums on the mass – on the rush – of emotion
This lust for threading needles through the story
For the chance to recognize what we can’t argue with

Again. How we’ve been socialized to respect fear
to be responsible for the corner, for a place
to store your words. Pay no good reason.
Not to ask ourselves what they really are,

Make us only a scratch. So. This is your thing:
The strength of the ways you employ names.
How the prize behind the door
Will be a bell tower / What batters

The grasping or feminine
Your women Your nothing at all
Trying to be in bed with their interiors, & strengths. Tell them
We’re all cramming into stars. Tell them
Maybe a little more.

(*All lines (including title) are found text, resulting from the “What Would I Say” app on my personal Facebook)
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