Advertisement

Sex Roles

, Volume 76, Issue 3–4, pp 188–201 | Cite as

Girl in a Country Song: Gender Roles and Objectification of Women in Popular Country Music across 1990 to 2014

  • Eric E. Rasmussen
  • Rebecca L. Densley
Original Article

Abstract

Although content analyses have examined the portrayal of women in objectifying and demeaning ways in many forms of media, including several genres of music, little research has explored the portrayal of women in country music. The current study content analyzed the lyrics of 750 country songs popular in the United States across almost three decades (1990–2014) for their portrayal of female gender roles and objectification of women. Findings revealed that country songs from 2010 to 2014 were less likely to portray women in traditional roles, non-traditional roles, family roles, and as empowered than songs that were popular in the first half of one or both prior decades. Songs from 2010 to 2014 were also more likely to refer to a woman’s appearance, to women in tight or revealing clothing, to women as objects, and to women via slang than songs in one or both prior decades. Furthermore, results indicate that the changes in the portrayal of women appear to be driven by changes in lyrics in songs sung by male artists, but not by those in songs sung by female artists. The present research helps to lay a foundation for future work exploring the relations between exposure to country music, female gender role stereotypes, and attitudes and behaviors related to objectification of women.

Keywords

Music Women Objectification Gender roles Stereotypes 

References

  1. Abramson, B. D. (2002). Country music and cultural industry: Mediating structures in transnational media flow. Media, Culture, & Society, 24, 255–274. doi: 10.1177/016344370202400206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aday, R. H., & Austin, B. S. (2000). Images of aging in the lyrics of American country music. Educational Gerontology, 26, 135–154. doi: 10.1080/036012700267295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2009). Policy statement: Impact of music, music lyrics, and music videos on children and youth. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/124/5/1488.full.pdf.
  4. American Psychological Association. (2007). Report of the APA Task Force on the sexualization of girls: Executive summary. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-summary.pdf.
  5. Andsager, J. L., & Roe, K. (1999). Country music video in the country’s year of the woman. Journal of Communication, 49, 69–82. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1999.tb02782.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Andsager, J., & Roe, K. (2003). “What’s your definition of dirty, baby?”: Sex in music video. Sexuality and Culture, 7, 79–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Aubrey, J. S., & Frisby, C. M. (2011). Sexual objectification in music videos: A content analysis comparing gender and genre. Mass Communication and Society, 14, 475–501. doi: 10.1080/15205436.2010.513468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baker, C. N. (2005). Images of women’s sexuality in advertisements: A content analysis of black- and white-oriented women’s and men’s magazines. Sex Roles, 52, 13–27. doi: 10.1007/s11199-005-1190-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  10. Baxter, R. L., DeRiemer, C., Landini, A., Leslie, L., & Singletary, M. (1985). A content analysis of music videos. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 29, 333–340. doi: 10.1080/08838158509386589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Benedict, H. (1992). Virgin or vamp: How the press covers sex crimes. Oxford: New York.Google Scholar
  12. Billboard. (2016a). Conway Twitty: Biography. Retrieved from http://www.billboard.com/artist/299626/conway-twitty/biography.
  13. Billboard. (2016b). George Strait: Biography. Retrieved from http://www.billboard.com/artist/302752/george-strait/biography.
  14. Calogero, R. M. (2004). A test of objectification theory: The effect of the male gaze on appearance concerns in college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 16–21. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2004.00118.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Campbell, M. (2012). Popular music in America: The beat goes on. Independence: Cengage.Google Scholar
  16. Caramanica, J. (2015, June 18). Kacey Musgraves and other ‘tomatoes’ give country its bit. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/arts/music/kacey-musgraves-and-other-tomatoes-give-country-its-bite.html?_r=1.
  17. Carlson, A. (2014, October 14). “Bro Country” is still thriving, even if everyone hates it. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/3502546/florida-georgia-line-bro-country/.
  18. Carpenter, K., & Walters, G. (2011). A So Di Ting set: Conceptions of male and female in Jamaica and Barbados. Sexuality and Culture, 15, 345–360. doi: 10.1007/s12119-011-9109-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Common Sense Media (2015). The Common Sense census: Media use by tweens and teens. San Francisco: Common Sense Media.Google Scholar
  20. Connell, R. W. (1992). A very straight gay: Masculinity, homosexual experience, and the dynamics of gender. American Sociological Review, 57, 735–751. doi: 10.2307/2096120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Conrad, K., Dixon, T., & Zhang, Y. (2009). Controversial rap themes, gender portrayals and skin tone distortion: A content analysis of rap music videos. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 53, 134–156. doi: 10.1080/08838150802643795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cooper, V. W. (1985). Women in popular music: A quantitative analysis of feminine images over time. Sex Roles, 13, 499–506. doi: 10.1007/BF00287756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cooper, B. L. (1999). Women’s studies and popular music stereotypes. Popular Music and Society, 23, 31–43. doi: 10.1080/03007769908591751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Country Music Association. (2014). Connect with country, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.cmaworld.com/cmaaddons/research/presentations/2014/2014-connect-with-country-deck-research-121414.pdf. Accessed 10 August 2016.
  25. Country Weekly. (2014). Real country music: The honest truth about country music sub-genres. Retrieved from http://www.countryweekly.com/music/real-country-music-honest-truth-about-country-music-sub-genres.
  26. DeWall, C. N., Pond Jr., R. S., Campbell, W. K., & Twenge, J. M. (2011). Tuning in to psychological change: Linguistic markers of psychological traits and emotions over time in popular U.S. song lyrics. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5, 200–207. doi: 10.1037/a0023195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dukes, R. L., Bisel, T. M., Borega, K. N., Lobato, E. A., & Owens, M. D. (2003). Expressions of love, sex, and hurt in popular songs: A content analysis of all-time greatest hits. The Social Science Journal, 40, 643–650. doi: 10.1016/S0362-3319(03)00075-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fischer, P., & Greitemeyer, T. (2006). Music and aggression: The impact of sexual-aggressive song lyrics on aggression-related thoughts, emotions, and behavior toward the same and opposite sex. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1165–1176. doi: 10.1177/0146167206288670.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social cognition. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  30. Flynn, M. A., Craig, C. M., Anderson, C. N., & Holody, K. J. (2016). Objectification in popular music lyrics: An examination of gender and genre differences. Sex Roles. doi: 10.1007/s11199-016-0592-3.Google Scholar
  31. Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. A. (1997). Objectification theory. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173–206. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Freudiger, P., & Almquist, E. M. (1978). Male and female roles in the lyrics of three genres of contemporary music. Sex Roles, 4, 51–65. doi: 10.1007/BF00288376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Fung, C. H., Jouldjian, S., & Kierlin, L. (2013). Depictions of insomniacs’ behaviors and thoughts in music lyrics. Sleep Disorders, 2013, 1–6. doi: 10.1155/2013/106492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Graff, K. A., Murnen, S. K., & Krause, A. K. (2013). Low-cut shirts and high-heeled shoes: Increased sexualization across time in magazine depictions of girls. Sex Roles, 69, 571–582. doi: 10.1007/s11199-013-0321-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gray, C. (2000, September 1). Murder on music row: It don’t matter who’s in Nashville, George Strait is still the king. The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2000-09-01/78457/.
  36. Gurung, R. A. R., & Chrouser, C. J. (2007). Predicting objectification: Do provocative clothing and observer characteristics matter? Sex Roles, 57, 91–99. doi: 10.1007/s11199-007-9219-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Harrison, K., & Hefner, V. (2006). Media exposure, current and future body ideals, and disordered eating among preadolescent girls: A longitudinal panel study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35, 153–163. doi: 10.1007/s10964-005-9008-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hayes, A. F. (2005). Statistical methods for communication science. Mahway: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc..Google Scholar
  39. Herd, D. (2009). Changing images of violence in rap music lyrics: 1979-1997. Journal of Public Health Policy, 30, 395–406. doi: 10.1057/jphp.2009.36.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Hobbs, D. R., & Gallup Jr., G. G. (2011). Songs as a medium for embedded reproductive message. Evolutionary Psychology, 9, 390–416. doi: 10.1177/147470491100900309.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Kim, J. L., Sorsoli, L., Collins, K., Zylbergold, B. A., Schooler, D., & Tolman, D. L. (2007). From sex to sexuality: Exposing the heterosexual script on primetime network television. The Journal of Sex Research, 44, 145–157. doi: 10.1080/00224490701263660.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Kurzban, R. (2012). Cheatin’ hearts & loaded guns: The high fitness stakes of country music lyrics. Review of General Psychology, 16, 187–191. doi: 10.1037/a0027913.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lay, F. (2000). Sometimes we wonder who the real men are: Masculinity and contemporary popular music. In R. West & F. Lay (Eds.), Subverting masculinity: Hegemonic and alternative versions of masculinity in contemporary culture (pp. 227–246). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  44. Leight, E. (2015). What happened to women in country? An investigation using year-end Billboard charts. Retrieved from http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6583054/women-in-country-radio-sexist-imbalance.
  45. Levine, M. P., & Murnen, S. K. (2009). “Everybody knows that mass media are/are not [pick one] a cause of eating disorders": A critical review of evidence for a causal link between media, negative body image, and disordered eating in females. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28, 9–42. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2009.28.1.9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lewis, G. H. (1976). Country music lyrics. Journal of Communication, 26, 37–40. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1976.tb01933.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Marlow, M., Dye, T., & Scherz, A. (2015). Girl in a country song [Recorded by Maddie & Tae]. On Start here [CD]. Nashville: Dot Records.Google Scholar
  48. Merskin, D. (2007). Three faces of Eva: Perpetuation of the hot-Latina stereotype in desperate housewives. The Howard Journal of Communications, 18, 133–151. doi: 10.1080/10646170701309890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Morris, E. (2003, June 11). It’s still ‘Murder on Music Row,’ songwriters complain Shall, Cordle unfazed by award nominations. CMT News. Retrieved from http://www.cmt.com/news/1472512/its-still-murder-on-music-row-songwriters-complain-shell-cordle-unfazed-by-award-nominations/.
  50. Morris, E. (2016, January 8). Country music fares admirably but not spectacularly in Nielsen 2015 summary. CMT News. Retrieved from http://www.cmt.com/news/1761611/country-music-fares-admirably-but-not-spectacularly-in-nielsen-2015-summary/.
  51. Morris, K. L., & Goldenberg, J. (2015). Objects become her: The role of mortality salience on men’s attraction to literally objectified women. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 56, 69–72. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2014.09.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nielsen. (2014). Walk the blurred lines: Country music’s cross-over popularity. Retrieved from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2014/walk-the-blurred-lines-country-musics-cross-over-popularity.html.
  53. Nielsen. (2015). Everyone listens to music, but how we listen is changing. Retrieved from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2015/everyone-listens-to-music-but-how-we-listen-is-changing.html.
  54. Nielsen. (2016). 2015 U.S. music year-end report. Retrieved from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2016/2015-music-us-year-end-report.html.
  55. Noll, S. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). A mediational model linking self-objectification, body shame, and disordered eating. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 22, 623–636. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.1998.tb00181.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. NPD. (2013). The NPD Group: Country music rises to become America’s favorite genre in 2012. Retrieved from https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/the-npd-group-country-music-rises-to-become-americas-favorite-genre-in-2012/.
  57. Paul, B., & Huron, D. (2010). An association between breaking voice and grief-related lyrics in country music. Empirical Musicology Review, 5, 27–35.Google Scholar
  58. Pecknold, D. (2012). Country music. In J. Shepherd & D. Horn (Eds.), Continuum encyclopedia of popular music of the world (pp. 157–171). New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  59. Peirce, K. (1997). Women’s magazine fiction: A content analysis of the roles, attributes and occupations of main characters. Sex Roles, 37, 581–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pew (2014). Audio: Spotify and Pandora active users (2014). Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/media-indicators/audio-spotify-and-pandora-active-users/.
  61. Primack, B. A., Dalton, M. A., Carroll, M. V., Agarwal, A. A., & Fine, M. J. (2008). Content analysis of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs in popular music. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 162, 169–175. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2007.27.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  62. Pruitt, C. (2006). Stand by your man, redneck woman: Towards a historical view of country music gender roles. Thesis, Georgia State University. Retrieved from http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=sociology_theses.
  63. Rich, M. K., & Cash, T. F. (1993). The American image of beauty: Media representations of hair color for four decades. Sex Roles, 29, 113–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rideout, V. J., Foehr, U. G., & Roberts, D. F. (2010). Generation M2: Media in the lives of 8- to 18-year-olds (Publication #8010). Menlo Park: Kaiser Family Foundation Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED527859.pdf.Google Scholar
  65. Roberts, R. (1991). Music videos, performance and resistance: Feminist rappers. Journal of Popular Culture, 25, 141–152. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-3840.1991.2502_141.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Roberts, D. F., & Christensen, P. G. (2001). Popular music in childhood and adolescence. In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 395–410). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  67. Rodriguez, I. L. (2007). The representation of women in teenage and women’s magazines: Recurring metaphors in English. Estudios Ingleses de la Universidad Complutense, 15, 15–42.Google Scholar
  68. Rosen, J. (2013, August 11). Judy Rosen on the rise of bro-country. Vulture. Retrieved from http://www.vulture.com/2013/08/rise-of-bro-country-florida-georgia-line.html.
  69. Sanchez, X., Moss, S. L., Twist, C., & Karageorghis, C. I. (2013). On the role of lyrics in the music-exercise performance relationship. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 15, 132–138. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2013.10.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Signorielli, N., & Kahlenberg, S. (2001). Television’s world of work in the nineties. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 45, 4–22. doi: 10.1207/s15506878jobem4501_2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Smith, G. (2013, October 18). Country brodown: Every truck beer, jeans, moonlight, and “girl” reference on the current chart. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.ew.com/article/2013/10/18/bro-country-beer-trucks-lyrics.
  72. Smith, S. L., & Granados, A. D. (2009). Content patterns and effects surrounding sex-role stereotyping on television and in film. In J. Bryant & M. B. Oliver (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 342–361). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  73. Smith, S. L., Choueiti, M., Prescott, A., & Pieper, K. (2013). Gender roles and occupations: A look at character attributes and job-related aspirations in film and television. Los Angeles: Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.Google Scholar
  74. Sommers-Flanagan, R., Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Davis, B. (1993). What’s happening on music television? A gender role content analysis. Sex Roles, 28, 745–753. doi: 10.1007/BF00289991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Stabile, C. A. (2009). Sweetheart, this ain’t gender studies: Sexism and superheroes. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 6, 86–92. doi: 10.1080/14791420802663686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Stark, P. (2015). Is bro country over…and what is its lasting legacy? Retrieved from http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/country/6670362/is-bro-country-over-and-what-is-its-lasting-legacy.
  77. Tinsley, H., & Weiss, D. J. (1975). Interrater reliability and agreement of subject judgments. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 22, 358–376. doi: 10.1037/h0076640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Toure, M. (2014, December 9). Country music association works to attract brands, change perceptions of its fans. AdvertisingAge. Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/country-music-association-works-attract-brands/296083/.
  79. Trust, G., & Jessen, W. (2014). Chart highlights: Maddie & Tae, girls in a No.1 country song. Retrieved from http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/6386054/chart-highlights-maddie-tae-girls-in-a-no-1-country-song.
  80. van Oosten, J. M. F., Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2015). The influence of sexual music videos on adolescents’ misogynistic beliefs: The role of video content, gender, and affective engagement. Communication Research, 42, 986–1008. doi: 10.1177/0093650214565893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Van Sickel, R. W. (2005). A world without citizenship: On the absence of politics and ideology in country music lyrics, 1960-2000. Popular Music and Society, 28, 313–331. doi: 10.1080/03007760500105164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Vincent, R., Davis, D., & Boruszkowski, L. (1987). Sexism on MTV: The portrayal of women in rock videos. Journalism Quarterly, 64, 750–755. doi: 10.1177/107769908706400410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wallis, C. (2011). Performing gender: A content analysis of gender display in music videos. Sex Roles, 64, 160–172. doi: 10.1007/s11199-010-9814-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Ward, L. M., Hansbrough, E., & Walker, E. (2005). Contributions of music video exposure to Black adolescents’ gender and sexual schemas. Journal of Adolescent Research, 20, 143–166. doi: 10.1177/0743558404271135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Wilson, J. (2000). Women in country music videos. ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 57, 290–304.Google Scholar
  86. Yee, M., & Brown, R. (1994). The development of gender differentiation in young children. British Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 183–196. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8309.1994.tb01017.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Media & CommunicationTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

Personalised recommendations