8 Surprisingly Feminist Country Songs Written By Dudes

Categories: Columns

Rachel Parker
"Accidental Racist" or not, Brad Paisley is as progressive as they come
We all know that country music, by and large, isn't the most progressive of musical genres. With loudmouth GOP musicians like Charlie Daniels and Hank Williams Jr., it's easy to forget that country music isn't all about trucks, America and hating President Obama. Believe it or not, there are surprisingly progressive lyrics hiding behind some of country radio's most popular songs in the last 20 years.

Still, the popularity of "bro-country" has put the spotlight on the way that the genre treats the women. The women of country music have always been making waves with controversial songs about women's rights (see Loretta Lynn's "The Pill" as an example), but their male counterparts have also been recording sneakily feminist songs for the past few decades. These eight are some of the best.

See also:
Bro Country's Sexism Is Ruining Country Music
The 10 Biggest Douchebags in Country Music

1. She's Everything - Brad Paisley
The women of today's country music are generally presented as hot girls in tight jeans, and little else. It might be a cheesy love song, but Brad Paisley's "She's Everything" is one of the few love songs that focuses on the personality of the female subject in the song. There's also a lot of respect for women in these lyrics, which is something that the bro-country dudes could surely learn from.

2. She Only Smokes When She Drinks - Joe Nichols
There's no rule that break-up songs can't be feminist; just ask Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. Dudes don't exactly have a lot of great contributions in the way of done-me-wrong songs that don't resort to sexist tropes, but "She Only Smokes When She Drinks" is a great example. It may not seem feminist on its face, but it's really about telling creepers at the bar to lay off of a woman who's drinking her feelings. I think we can all agree that's something the world needs more of.

3. She Let Herself Go - George Strait
The title of this classic George Strait song would suggest that it's a little sexist, but the meaning is full-on girl power for grown-ups. There are certainly good country songs about men who didn't appreciate the women who loved them, but this one also focuses on said woman going on to lead a kick-ass life. She goes on a singles cruise from Vegas to Honolulu, which is easily one of the most beautiful plans to reinvent yourself as a strong woman.

4. Red Rag Top - Tim McGraw
This song by Tim McGraw is technically a tale of first loves, but there's also an incredibly progressive and feminist subtext. One teensy sentence in the second verse, arguably describing a teenage girl having an abortion, drew ire from pro-life groups and resulted in the song being banned by some country radio stations. Songwriter Jason White never denied that the lyric was referencing abortion, but the controversy never picked up enough steam to impact McGraw's career.

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Garth Brooks - We Shall Be Free - even a little bit of Gay Rights in there

I love the line "She got an A in math and never cracked a book" - that is an ode to a smart woman (blanking on the name of the song though).


Ray Stevens 'The Streak' celebrated a free spirited woman named Ethyl who was not content to conform to the prudent expectations of her boyfriend or society in general.


Yep.  The singers are the people that wrote them. All country singers write their own lyrics.

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