Keith Urban’s ‘Female’ is unprecedented in country music

photo from

Story by Langley Leverett, editor in chief

I was driving down the road, trying in earnest to find a decent song on the radio, until I finally gave up and settled on a residential country station. Most people recoil when I tell them I like country music, but then again, I like a lot of music. I’m pretty much your average chameleon when it comes to different genres of music– I love anything from dark grunge to electric pop to R&B soul rhythms.

I thrive on a catchy beat, and I am wholeheartedly infatuated with annotating lyrics and trying to dig deeper into the meaning. It’s what makes life relatable; it’s what makes life bearable, knowing that someone out there has experienced pain and joy like me, and that they were able to rebuild.

So when the song “Female,” released on Nov. 8 by Keith Urban, started floating through my chevy speakers, my ears instantly perked up. The first line sings: “When you hear somebody says somebody hits like a girl, how does that hit you?” I was brazenly shocked; I’d never witnessed someone poke a jab so blatantly and especially in the first stanza. It was a subtle hit, but I heard it loud and clear.

If the timing seems perfect, it is, and it is intentional. In the wake of the many sexual allegations running through politics and the media, Urban chose to sing this as a testimony for the women who have been abused.

As a woman, I am not oblivious to the degrading comments and insults centered around feminine qualities. I have never been one to accuse and point fingers, but that doesn’t mean that I am unaware. I see the double standards, I see how boys and girls are raised differently, and I see how it impacts our self-esteem, our ability to believe that we are equal. I believe in expression and equal standards for all genders. I am not a feminist, but rather a humanitarian who yearns to see respect for all people, regardless of labels we are born with.

The message Urban sings resonates deep within my heart, as it depicts a woman as more than just a lover, more than just someone who needs protection, more than just a damsel in distress. The chorus is a string of words that encompasses multiple layers and raw emotions, and it genuinely confirms that a woman is “the heart of life.” It emphasizes that a woman is the compilation of spirit and compassion, healing and restoration– something worthy of being set upon a pedestal.

Not only does the song comment on the overused slander of feminine properties as insults, but it also acknowledges victim-blaming and rape culture. No, women aren’t the only victims of sexual abuse, but in mainstream culture it’s not uncommon to hear “What was she wearing?” in reply to a situation of violation. Urban replies “Is that how it works?” to mock the insane justification that a woman’s attire, no matter how revealing, is an invitation for sexual conduct. Clothing isn’t the problem, rather the separate standardsof accountability is the culprit to blame.

My dad has always repeated to me that it’s a man’s world, which means you will have to work twice as hard to get what you want in life. I was never shaken by that, but rather it only made me more determined. Looking back, I should have been questionative; I should have said something more than “okay.” But what exactly can you say? He wasn’t wrong.

Women have lived in the shadows of men for the endurance of history, but times are changing. Despite the overcast being heavy, women haven’t stopped working toward equality, and they haven’t sat back in the corner waiting to be directed. Joan of Arc, Clara Barton, Maya Angelou and so many more have proven that women are capable. They are capable of possessing a fiery heart, a healing hand and a poetic, intelligent mind, all the while demonstrating that they are the cultivators of life itself. Women are the “hands of time”; they are the cogs and wheels that keep this world spinning and thriving.

To ignore that notion is ignorance, and I absolutely applaud Keith Urban and the songwriters who brought this issue to the forefront of country music.