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Michigan professor discusses music, culture

Abigail Forney | Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The lyrics to country artist Gretchen Wilson’s song “Redneck Woman” could be a solution to modern tension between gender and class, a University of Michigan professor said during a guest lecture Monday.

Nadine Hubbs, associate professor of women’s studies and music at the University of Michigan, spoke at Saint Mary’s about popular music’s role in culture and used female country singers to demonstrate issues facing women, particularly those who come from the lower class.

Wilson, who grew up in a trailer park and comes from a working class family, sends a very specific message to her listeners with the song, Hubb said.

“In the song where she defines herself and her position in society, she says that being who she is, is cool, and being that kind of person has not always been cool.” she said.

Hubbs said women in working-class households are expected to cultivate “middle-class manners” in their families, but Wilson’s song is a good example for working-class women struggling to assert themselves against negative stereotypes.

She said the singer has a vision of women being proud of where they come from, which shows how popular music can be used as a statement about class misconceptions that often victimize women.

“I look at this song ‘Redneck Woman’ as a solution or a detour around that tough predicament [between gender and class,]” Hubbs said. “It’s quite a trick to pull off.”