The disappointing disempowerment of women by the Country Music Awards of 2019

By Dottie Laster

I love and often listen to many artists of country music. I believe it is up to us to help the leaders of the Country Music Awards (CMA) to make a needed course correction. The Country Music genre has a heavy male spin on songs that receive airtime on radio stations across the United States. Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland wore an outfit at the Country Music Awards that addressed the lack of female artists getting airtime. 

The CMA responded to the years long ongoing issue by having three women hosts, who made jokes about their older ages and then a song about prostitution was the highlight of the program. Not very empowering or even respectful. 

Sometimes women are kept from the seat at the table for so long they do not recognize that when they are finally allowed to participate they are being put in the position of reinforcing the very reason they are being marginalized. A research project of the study of commercial sex buyers found that commercial sex was marketed solely to men, and when looking for a control group of 100 men who had not bought sex, the researchers could not find 100 men who had not consumed stripping, pornography, phone sex  or prostitution. 

The 2019 CMA awards which had the theme of celebrating legendary women aired on Nov. 13, 2019 on ABC. The crescendo of the evening was Reba Mcentire singing Fancy, a song written by Bobbie Gentry in 1969, about a teen being sold into prostitution by her mother. Reba was stripping to the song, and while her outfits were not risqué the message was still clear.

The artists in the audience clapping and rocking to the beat - ended with a standing ovation.

I urge  calls and emails to the CMA  to explain how their performance hurts all victims of trafficking and their families.

I rescue human trafficking victimsdaily and the only Georgia mansion they see is prison, mental institutions or death. If they escape, they go through years of recovery and restoration for 1000s of rapes, assaults, forced abortions, and other traumas. Every sex trafficked victim and their families were slapped in the face by the CMA. Currently, there are more people enslaved for forced labor/commercial sex than when slavery was legal. Stripping, porn and prostitution with coercion are considered sex trafficking, and if a minor is in stripping, porn or prostitution there is no need to show coercion, they are a trafficked victim, according to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

In the year of Epstein, the lyrics of a benevolent man selling a teen  to aristocrats is harmful to every child in the US and directly to ALL of the victims of Jeffery Epstein.

This is why sex traffickers like Epstein flourish and operate openly in every state and every community. He is not rare except that he was known.

My phone rings everyday, even on Christmas, with parents whose children, minor and adult, have been lured and groomed by predators for commercial sex trafficking. I have served many victims sold by their parents, there is nothing glamorous or financially empowering that comes from this, only pain, death and destruction. One victim had medical bills of $1,000,000 when rescued, all this was medical, none was mental health or recovery in that amount. We all pay the cost of a society that supports sex trafficking.

The planners of the awards show knew they were putting the  legendary women of country back in their place as prostituted objects when they planned the evening. As long as women are considered as objects of commercial sex, they will never see equal pay or respect, or air time on the radio.

I ask that the CMA be called and told that this was hurtful to our community and to the many victims of sex trafficking in the U.S. 615-244-2840 or email

Video commentary:

Copyright 2019 by Dottie Laster. All Rights Reserved.

Dottie Laster is the  founder of  She has rescued and served victims of human trafficking in the United States for 16 years. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Discovery Investigates and many other networks in documentaries about human trafficking in the United States.

3 thoughts on “The disappointing disempowerment of women by the Country Music Awards of 2019

  1. So true! I have tired of country music in part because every other song seems to be about drinking and being drunk and women in skimpy clothing. Many of these are sing by women. While some women feel empowered by doing this, because they think they are “in control of their sexuality”. Consuming alcohol has rarely left a person “in control” and it is one of many ways predators lure, entice, and trap their victims. If there was ever a bigger tone dead group of individuals in one room, it was at the 2019 CMA’s. Thank you for the hard work you do to save humans from those who lack all sense of humanity.

    1. I meant tone deaf, but maybe if they don’t start to recognize what they are contributing to, my previous slip of the thumbs may be more accurate.

  2. I agree !! I was disappointed to see that Reba McEntire saying the song about prostitution when she had so many others to choose from. What an opportunity that was missed! It could’ve been a great night for women all over the world. Thank you for all that you do! I work for Las Vegas Fire and Rescue. I teach human trafficking awareness to our first responders. So I appreciate your post

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