There has always been a staple of how a man is portrayed by country music. It has celebrated the idea of a strong, blue-collar type of masculinity. However, recent studies show that there has been a shift going on with the narrative.
Country Music and the Idea of Masculinity
It is a well-known fact that the country genre is one of the most celebrated genres in the United States, especially in the South and the Midwest, where there is an overwhelming influx of Caucasian audiences.
Mississipi State University has come out with a study that analyzed the lyrics of several chart-topping country music songs that were released from the 1980s to the 2010s. The findings suggest that there is a shift in the celebration of the traditional picture of rural masculinity.
In an interview on the methodology of his study, US Sociology professor Braden Leap mentions:
“In the mainstream country hits that I’ve analysed, there are increasingly representations that facilitate the reproduction of racial and gender inequalities. These sorts of portrayals do or can promote unequal relations between men and women and [lead to] bad outcomes.”
Professor Leap also says that more than 40% of the population listens to country music. He also says that it is also the most consumed form of radio media in the United States, with a country music listener consuming more than five hours a day of play time.
At its very core, country music is the celebration of the working class and how their lives revolve around their work ethics, as well as their strong beliefs and integrity. Professor Leap further describes that men in the country genre have been traditionally painted as ‘resilient and hardworking,’ having the picturesque strong family man.
However, the shift had started over the past decade, zoning in particular to the chart toppers. The ideals of hard-working men have developed into a type of masculinity that is defined by the chase of a woman, citing Dierks Bentley‘s Say You Do, as a perfect example.
“[Now] it’s a type of provider that provides women with alcohol, transportation, and places to hook up in order to potentially enable physical intimacy. In the lyrics, he wants to hook up with his ex again and even if she doesn’t really want to, he’s willing to provide her with alcohol in order to make that happen.”