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Country Hits Increasingly Objectify Women and Glorify Whiteness

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Jason Aldean performs during the Stagecoach Festival at Empire Polo Field on April 28th, 2019, in Indio, California.

A new study of four decades of country hits suggests that the idiom’s notion of what it means to be a man is shifting—and not in a healthy way.

Analyzing the chart-topping country songs from the 1980s through the 2010s, Mississippi State University sociologist Braden Leap pinpoints two troubling trends.

In recent years, Leap reports, country hits have “increasingly depicted women as sexual objects instead of employed equals.” In addition, “whiteness is celebrated far more often than it was in the 1980s and 1990s”—a trend that dovetails with the rise of white identity politics, particularly in the rural areas where the genre is most popular.

“Contemporary country celebrates heterosexual men in blue-collar occupations just like the genre did in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s,” Leap writes in the journal Rural Sociology. “But the ideal rural man is now depicted as a particular type of heterosexual provider, while white women have increasingly been represented as the ideal sexual objects to complement this masculinity.”

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