After 9/11, the conservative radio and TV host Sean Hannity began using the rousing chorus for his Premiere Radio Networks talk show, thinking the song was about nationalist patriotism. Peters could not legally stop him from sampling her song, so she collects royalties every time it is played, and then donates them to non-profits that help survivors of abuse.

“I know that he’s using it, I know he’s completely disregarding what the song’s about,” she told Songfacts in 2007. “It has nothing to do with patriotism or anything like that.” (Carrie Underwood has also performed the song, and has continued the tradition of advocating for domestic abuse awareness with chart topping songs like “Church Bells.”)

In 2012, the bro country icons Florida Georgia Line released “Cruise,” an extraordinarily catchy song that, as Ian Crouch The New Yorker notes, was the most influential and bestselling country song for two entire years. The frat boys at my university cheered when the song came on at their sloppy parties, and it is, indeed, great for pretending you’re having a good time when you’re really drinking cheap liquor in a crowded moldy basement. “Lyrically, it’s ass-backwards,” Crouch adds. There is one woman mentioned in the song, and she is described as having “long tanned legs” and her only action in the song is jumping into the truck and saying, “Fire it up, let’s go get this thing stuck.”

The band made millions from this song and it sparked years of copycats, but the women of country weren’t going to let them get away with it. In 2014, the duo Maddie & Tae released their debut song, “Girl in Your Country Song” as a response to bro country’s denigration of women as objects: “Well, I wish I had some shoes on my two bare feet / And it’s gettin’ kinda cold in these painted on cut-off jeans / I hate the way this bikini top chafes / Do I really have to wear it all day?” The song went platinum and peaked as number one on the Billboard Country charts, anointing them the second female duo to ever top that chart with a debut single, and the first since 2006.

This paved the way for Kelsea Ballerini, whose platinum single “Love Me Like You Mean It” demands respect from potential lovers: “Oh hey, I’ve had my share of losers, liars and users / Looking for a heart to break / So if you’re like that well, take a step back.”

When Kacey Musgraves released her single “Biscuits” in 2015, she faced criticism from the conservative country industry for singing about marijuana, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and questioning Christianity. And when she did go traditional and sang about small-town American life, a favorite theme in country songs (look to Sugarland’s “Everyday America” for comparison), the lyrics were depressing, not celebratory.

(There are plenty of other incredible country music legends who should get credit—including Miranda Lambert, Faith Hill, and Reba McIntyre—but I had to cut myself off somewhere.)

Meanwhile, some of the men of country music are known for racism as well as sexism—Brad Paisley’s notorious “Accidental Racist” single, for example, explains that the Confederate flag on his t-shirt means he’s a “Skynyrd fan” who is celebrating “Southern pride,” not “Southern blame.”

Men still dominate the country charts and win the most CMAs. (Last week, all five nominees for Entertainment of the Year were men.) Those who display sexism and racism don’t get called to account  for it, as the Dixie Chicks did.

In 2016, Beyoncé invited the Dixie Chicks, ostracized from the industry since 2011, back to the CMAs as her guests to perform her Lemonade single, “Daddy Lessons,” a country-blues song that forces listeners to reckon with country music’s history of whitewashing its African American influences. That act was a stronger show of support for women than Urban’s performance last night.

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