Keith Urban’s song, “Female,” tackles the intense issue of sexism — which is not something most male country singers sing about. When trying to figure out the song lineage for this song, it was certainly a challenge because Keith Urban was definitely not encouraged to sing about feminism by other male country singers. However, there are a few songs that stand out that I definitely think leads up to “Female.”

“Just Because I’m a Woman” by Dolly Parton -> “She’s Everything” by Brad Paisley -> “Girl in a Country Song” by Maddie & Tae

All of these songs refer to feminism in one way or another. They each empower women in one way or another, similar to “Female” by Keith Urban. Rather than making any comments to objectify women, they all frame women in a way that puts us on a pedestal, shows our independence, and more.

“Just Because I’m a Woman” by Dolly Parton (1968)

Dolly Parton wrote this song in response to other women in country music who sang about family and other typical stereotypes about women in the 60s. (It should be noted that Dolly Parton is in full support of women who are homemakers and has no intention on putting any women down). However, Dolly Parton wanted to make a song that empowered women who wanted to take their lives in their own hands and be independent. She sings “I can see you’re disappointed / By the way you look at me / And I’m sorry that I’m not / The woman you thought I’d be.” She was so used to the concept of slut shaming and the disrespect women were enduring in the 60s and felt it was necessary to breakthrough with this song and sing about how although it might disappoint men, women do not dress to impress men or live their lives with the intention of pleasing men all of the time.

“She’s Everything” by Brad Paisley (2005)

This song by Brad Paisley is very similar to “Female” in many ways – especially the chorus where Urban sings about all of the incredible titles that women carry. Though this is more of a love song than a feminist anthem, there are no parts of the song that points to sexism. Brad Paisley sings about his loved one, claiming she is everything to him. He sings, “She’s a warm conversation / That I wouldn’t miss for nothing / She’s a fighter when she’s mad / And she’s a lover when she’s loving.” A few lines later, the chours plays and Paisley sings, “I talk about her / I go on and on, and on / ‘Cause she’s everything to me.” Throughout the song, he points out all of his loved one’s strengths, but also some of her flaws, however, he concludes that all of those things together is what makes her “everything” to him. “She’s Everything” is truly meant to build up the character of a woman.

“Girl in a Country Song” by Maddie & Tae (2015)

This song by Maddie & Tae explicitly points out all of the things wrong with female stereotypes in country music. This song leads back to “Female” in many ways. Maddie & Tae sing “Bein’ the girl in a country song / How in the world did it go so wrong? / Like all we’re good for is lookin’ good for / You and your friends on the weekend, nothin’ more” further pointing to how women are objectified and stereotyped. They reference a lot of situations that are brought up in country songs such as cat calling, being disrespected, or used for the pleasure of men in most country songs. Maddie & Tae make a stand in this song, which was heard by country music fans and artists worldwide.

All three of these songs make up one lineage of Keith Urban’s “Female.” Each song attempts to crush stereotypes that are placed on women throughout history and tries to uplift and respect women.