Sexism in Popular Music: Drunk Girl

It’s been bugging me for a while now. Every single time “Drunk Girl” by Chris Janson, a hit country song, comes on the radio or Bluetooth in the car, my mom and both of my sisters sing along because they find it so “gentlemanly.” They cannot understand how I could possibly be offended or annoyed by the lyrics. Sure, most songs use whatever lyrics fit the beat, but for a song that is primarily popular because of its lyrics, the actual message of this song irks me.

The song begins describing a woman out bar-hopping who is presumably hammered “bouncing like a pinball” and “falling out of that dress.” Okay, fine. That’s valid, I guess; we all have our moments. But then Chris Janson sings the chorus:

 

“Take a drunk girl home

Let her sleep all alone

Leave her keys on the counter your number by the phone

Pick up her life she threw on the floor

Leave the hall lights on walk out and lock the door

That's how she knows the difference between a boy and a man

Take a drunk girl home.”

 

First off, a woman going bar-hopping does not automatically mean that she is “throwing her life on the floor,” for multiple reasons. One: even with the consideration that most women are not safe when they are drunk and out alone, women are not responsible for the actions of predators. Therefore, the predator is throwing her life on the floor, not the woman. By referring to a woman partying as “throwing her life on the floor,” Janson seems to imply that by going out alone, a woman knowingly puts herself in harm’s way and accepts the consequences. In the first verse, Chris Janson states that “she’s either a bachelorette or coming off a breakup.” Even if the woman in the song was coming off of a breakup, I would still argue that rather than throwing her own life on the floor, whoever made her feel small and meaningless enough that the possibility of danger is unimportant is ultimately responsible. 

While I’m on the topic of responsibility, let’s discuss why only the woman going out to party is “throwing her life on the floor,” while the man in the song is probably doing the exact same thing, but he’s not disrespecting himself. It’s a sad, sexist world that we live in for a woman to do the exact same as a man and be treated so differently for it. That’s not Chris Janson’s fault, but I thought I would mention why, in specific, I find that verse so frustrating.

Chris Janson goes on to sing, “that’s how she knows the difference between a boy and a man.” I beg to disagree. More broadly, that’s how a woman knows the difference between a decent human and a predator.I’ll also mention that if you think a woman is “throwing her life on the floor,” it is only decent to wonder why and not take advantage of her. 

In shorter terms, I’m saying that taking advantage of a drunk girl is simply being an… well, I’ll let you finish that sentence yourself. By not taking advantage of the woman in the song, this guy is not automatically promoted to anything other than a decent human being with sensitivity for her wellbeing over his own sex drive.

Finally, there is a later lyric that I’d like to address. Janson mentions the man leaving his number for the woman and the second chorus states, “she left you a message; she thanked you on the phone, ‘cause you picked up her life she threw on the floor.” No woman should ever have to thank a man for not taking advantage of her while she was drunk. Sure, he drove her home, but that’s all that she needs to be grateful for. The whole verse makes the man of the story sound very heroic while the woman is a damsel in distress. For the man to assume that he has enough influence and power over her that he can “pick up her life” is poorly mistaken and ego-inflated. Most importantly, because as I explained earlier, going out is not throwing your life on the floor. Who is he to determine that she didn’t want to just have fun? As Hailee Steinfeld said, “some girls kiss new lips every single night, they’re staying up late ‘cause they’re just celebrating life.”