“Female” by Keith Urban was released in 2017. It was written and recorded within 3 weeks, and inspired by, according to Urban, the Harvey Weinstein scandal (Billboard). It inspired him to write this song as he has a wife and 2 daughters. He says he grew up in a house of boys, but now he is surrounded by lots of women which motivated him to write this song with a very empowering message. In the refrain, he sings “Sister, shoulder, daughter, lover, healer, broken halo / Mother nature, fire, suit of armor, soul survivor, holy water…baby girl, woman, child, Female” In his interview with Billboard, he discusses how the writers worked hard to frame the refrain in a way that speaks to as many people (particularly women) as possible. It was important for this song to empower every type of woman no matter what their “role” in society may be.

In terms of the genre, country music certainly has a stigma or stereotype (America, patriotism, trucks, beers, tractors…you know). But unfortunately, most importantly, misogyny is huge in country music as well, and it is reflected in a lot of scholarly essays and analyses such as this one. One look at the lyrics to “Hey Girl” by Billy Currington shows that. “Hey girl, whatcha think girl / You look a little thirsty lemme go getcha something to drink girl / Before you blink girl,” or in Dierk Bentley’s “Say You Do:” “If you need a little buzz to get you there / Then baby I’m buying.” There are a lot of songs with these allusions to eyeing up women in bars and trying to take advantage of them. There are also others that allude to traditional ways of living (women existing to take care of babies and feeding their husbands when they get home from work). So when Keith Urban came out with a song as powerful as “Female,” it was definitely unusual when it comes to country music. When I first approached this song, I really enjoyed it. However, I was definitely suspicious of a song called “Female” being sung by a male country singer. I was definitely wary while listening to it, wondering what his message was, but it’s important not to judge books by their titles, or songs by their singers(?). Being so widely known, it is impressive to know Keith Urban decided to perform this song and let it be known how meaningful it is to him. It is important that country singers, especially male singers, begin breaking the traditional stereotype and misogyny towards women in country music.

“Female” was written by three songwriters. Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman, and Nicolle Galyon. I was happy to see that a woman helped write this song. Galyon, the female writer, went on NPR to discuss the song with Lulu Garcia-Navarro. She writes that while they were finishing up writing it, she reflected a lot about how relevant it was with the news at the time. She believes that it was important for a man to sing it (NPR), especially Keith Urban. He, of course, faced backlash: “critics claimed that he was mansplaining feminism to women. Others took offense that the song uses the word female as a noun. Galyon, for one, is owning that word.” Despite being aware and critiquing the idea that “female” as a title might receive some negative responses, Galyon says she is glad they used that word and that she is proud to be a female.

Keith Urban sings “Female” and treats the word “Female” as something to be proud of – we are mothers, daughters, sisters, and so much more. I personally am glad it is a male country singer who produced and performed this song. Taking from his own experience, and what matters to him, and projecting it to his huge fanbase and beyond, helps bring awareness, especially to the country music community about how women are to be appreciated and respected in not only music, but in the world.