What Is It Like To Grow Up Country?

I grew up in the absolute middle of nowhere. Dirt roads, fields of corn and soybeans as far as the eye can see. Hotter than hell during the summer and colder than shit during the winter months.

Let me dispel some myths about the country in America.

1. There is no patriarchy in the country

This one is a common meme in the media and liberals. Take note: fat, white women rule the country and the small towns. Men still usually make up the formal leadership in small towns and rural power structures, but women pull the strings of power.

I made the argument in a political science class about sex and politics that men have the authority (formal power) in the country, but women exert the power (they have the ability to influence the authority). This was back in my blue-pill days. It did not go over well. Like the frustrating arguments I had in Family Law about whether being the primary wage-earner gives you the power in a relationship, I could not have a true discussion about power and how it works – which led me to this corner of the web. I was supremely frustrated with people who refused to care about understanding the world around them.

The country and rural areas are ruled by obese Caucasian women. It doesn’t matter if she is Christian, secular or anything else. Women have the upper hand. Some of the most pussy-whipped motherfuckers I know are the most “conservative.” The women do their utmost to front their man as the head of the household,  to socially present him as the “man,” when she is actually in control.

I argued with a woman about a “controlling” husband who limited his wife’s autonomy. I pointed out that clearly the wife is in control and is manipulating your perception of the relationship because she needs you to see her in a certain way. The woman was completely offended by my assertion. I pushed further, asking her to really consider the husband – do you really think this man is a controlling asshole? She laid down her arms because the social script of the dominating male didn’t fit here because she knew the husband was a bitch.

2. Rural areas are not hotbeds for conservative Christians

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While this stereotype may or may not apply to the South, it isn’t true in rural areas of the Midwest.

It is absolutely true that Christianity has a strong influence over society and politics in the country, but it isn’t as controlling as portrayed. Part of this conception stems from who is consuming, reading or viewing media coverage of rural areas – city folk. Part of the mis-characterization is narcissism – they need to feel superior to those ignorant Bible-thumpers. It’s also political – they need to feel that there is a strong backlash to liberal politics festering in the hotbeds of reactionary America.

There isn’t.

As usual, reality is more boring than fiction and that applies to rural areas and the country. Isolated areas attract a diversity of folk, many of whom are seeking to exist outside the mainstream. As such, you get many conservative Christians. You also get inordinate amounts of atheists, radical liberals, gay women (haven’t figured that one out), libertarians and all manner of folk who are not long for mainstream American society.

In many rural communities, the breakdown is as such: Christian conservatives, Big Union Democrats (Blue Dog Democrats) and libertarians. There are many, many conservative Christian conservatives in rural areas. The twist is that a good bit of them are Democrats – Democrats that abhor social liberalism but are strong fans of unionism and Keynesian economics (whether they know it or not). While they may be completely against gay marriage, abortion, feminism or whatever, their livelihood depends on their union membership and vote as such. These voters strongly preferred Hillary to Obama in 2008. Such voting was chalked up to racism, but that was very off-base. Hillary specifically targeted these sorts of voters with her strong pro-union credentials. Sometimes I wonder about the so-called “political” experts in the media.

Still, there are a good bit of strong liberals in rural communities. Sure, they rarely make up more than 25% of any local electorate, but they most assuredly exist. Political debates are far more robust in the country than urban areas – I have found big cities are thoroughly liberal. Voting patterns show this well, but my life has also reflect this. The most vigorous debates I had were often over hookah, weed and booze in a backyard of some farm house or living room of a rural apartment.

I think part of this is the fact the media presence is much more omnipresent in urban areas. It is tough to think for yourself when confronted with endless pleas to conform from the media. Only in the country can you sit back in your yard, enjoy the sky strewn with beautiful constellations of stars and just enjoy your beer. Alone. With just your thoughts.

Still, given the economic stress most rural communities experience, the debates often focus over approaches to economics. That is why both rural Republicans and Democrats spar primarily over economics. The sleight of hand the media engages in is that we are fighting over abortion or whatever. We aren’t. Conservative Christians sometimes use social issues as ways to politically organize, but the most passionate debates are over economic issues. Leave it to Starbucks liberals to bitch about gender roles. There are no debates about what sex does such and such when you have a hog farm to police, fields to walk and siding to mend on your house. The privileged get to bitch and moan about whether buying the groceries is gendered.

3. The country is not violent.

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A common trope in mainstream media is that the country is highly violent, especially towards women.

It isn’t true.

My hometown hasn’t had a murder since Lyndon Johnson was President. Batteries and assaults have almost exclusively happened at the local bars, between high schools kids and young, adult males. Domestic violence isn’t as much as a concern in the country precisely because you can’t just exist in rural areas, everybody is obvious.

The idea that domestic violence is openly tolerated in society is blown wide open by rural America. I would surmise that urban areas are more susceptible to domestic violence just because it is easier to slip away into a crowd, but in the country it’s impossible.

City folk regard rural folk with such suspicion because the country deals with violence differently. Urban folk are far, far more likely to take a pure authoritarian approach and leave it to the police and the courts to deal with violence. In rural areas, where people actually know each other, there exist real human ways to deal with others.

I have known local cops to take a perp to his local pastor, where the pastor admonished the man for his violence at the local bar. I have know a guy who was known for beating women to be taken to his grandmother’s house over jail, where he got a verbal licking so bad it became a local legend. Is it more effective than police intervention? Maybe not, but considering the failure of rehabilitating offenders in our criminal injustice system, maybe it is a good approach. Reinforcing family or social ties in order to engender better behavior out of somebody is probably more effective then some random judge telling you need to get your shit together.

For the record, suicide is a huge issue in rural areas. There are suicides every year in a sizable community. Murders, rapes, serious batteries and the like are rare. Yet, taking your life is common.

4. Growing up country can be a great life experience

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Growing up in the middle of nowhere is a truly unique life experience. When all you know, as a child, is a home surrounded by corn fields and dense woods it truly is a different experience. Biking hours in the punishing July sun just to see a friend and, for when you get there, they don’t have AC so you bake in the 104 degree steam playing PS1 is just strange to most people.

I have seen and done it all – driving around remote roads slinging back Bud Light as foolish youths, watching some depressed and poor farmer torch his barn and lighting off highly illegal fireworks with absolutely no worry about police action. In the country, a man can truly exist as he wishes. Sure, it isn’t pure independence from society and its ridiculous expectations, but the leash is so much longer.

The great amenities, culture and lifestyle urban areas afford are counter-balanced by the looming presence of government and the lack of anonymity. In the country, you can truly live life as you see fit. Policing is very light, prying eyes are far fewer and the social expectations are far different. The appearance of rural areas being hyper-conservative is off-base, as the country is more libertarian than anything else.

Still, the social ties you do have are deeper and more meaningful. The collective sense of community is so much greater because the isolation and lack of available governmental services. People learn to take care of one another, instead of letting disinterested government bureaucrats tend to the needs of their neighbors. You may hate the people around you, but you will always matter. It is a cardinal sin to not care about your neighbor in the country.

You may point out that this means that people’s autonomy is limited in the country and you would be right in a sense, but the biggest weirdos I have met were all country. Deviance is more tolerated in rural areas. Don’t listen to the propaganda in the media about  rural intolerance. People come to and stay in the country because of the freedom of thought and action afforded by the geographical isolation.

With all that said, I hope you come away from this piece with a greater understanding of the flyover areas of America. They aren’t even close to being the bigoted, gun-toting rednecks media liberals desperately want them to be. They are hard-working citizens who provide great value to society at the expense of enjoying the pleasures a city affords.

Read More: Why The Past Is Best Left In The Past

63 thoughts on “What Is It Like To Grow Up Country?”

  1. Oddly there might be some big differences in growing up in the country in the South East, vs the Mid-West vs the North West. I have not found the country to be ruled by fat obese women in the North West, where patriarchy is still alive and kicking in a more traditional sense. However, I’d argue that you find the blue collar union democrats in towns that had factory & mining industries that are either drying up or totally gone. Oddly enough, these folks often don’t understand the ones they turn to are the ones who are creating their circumstances.

  2. Its also far less expensive to grow up in the country. Growing up in the city and all the usual drinking, weed smoking etc can be very expensive for a young guy. Big city = lots of cops. Lots of tickets, DWI’s, lawyers fees. A lot of setbacks can befall a young guy growing up in a big city.

  3. 1st paragraph actually perfectly describes the situation in my home country Ukraine.A country where men assume formal leadership positions,but it is completely 150% ruled by women…99% of men are completely pussy whipped

    1. And it may soon be 200% ruled by Vladimir Putin if things continue as they are.

  4. “The country and rural areas are ruled by obese Caucasian women.”
    Obese Caucasian women rule the entire United States of America.

        1. You look an obese Chaz Bono type, so that would explain why you’re not ruled by one. you are one.

        2. “You are one”? “Touched a nerve”. Well I am likely better lookin this you. Also, you would not say the same for yourself? That these bitches don’t rule over you? I would hope you’d say the same thing.

        3. “Eheh…he touched a nerrrrve?” “Eeeh….you aarrree one” LOL for a place for masculine men it sure has som guys saying some pretty bitch-made shit here at times. That IS shit women say, lol quips like that. Lol

        4. Dunno bro, that was 3 years ago, lost quite a bit since then with BJJ and stuff…seriously bro you don’t have it, good insult power I mean. Now go on shoo…don’t try to fight with yer betters.

        5. No … no, it worries you. It worries you to the extent that you proclaim to complete strangers, who had no previous knowledge of your existence, that you are an exception.
          The blanket generalization “Obese Caucasian women rule the entire United States could be interpreted different ways, or even refuted outright, but you took it personally right out of the gate. Bit of a feminine characteristic, that. So is competitive judging of looks (“Well I am likely better looking then you.”) and shrillness.
          The “fact” you stated is known only to you. The rest of us are meant to take this, and your obvious insistence on your masculinity, on faith. I am experiencing a crisis of faith, and have turned to cheap amusement for consolation.
          Did you expect to utter something amusing, and not have someone be amused? I’m ashamed of myself, I was taught it’s not sporting to shoot them on the branch like that. I feel just awful.
          The family’s going to think I’m going out of my way to show poor manners. I promise to trod no more on your poor exposed nerves.

        6. Eesh, that was supposed to be a reply to Oliver Bingham’s calm, steady, masculine and not-at-all-shrill reply to my first comment. Me stupid.

        7. You know somethin? The truth is, I quit smoking a few weeks ago, I admittedly have been a bit batshit about it lastly..cause I am not using a vapor or pills..hey maybe I did feel a little nasty about hearing that ..I I know that I do get pretty disgusted because things like what was mentioned in this article are so apparent,yet feminists and thier ilk still insist that we live in a goddamn patriarchy. Yep, I do get pissed.

        8. “Bit of a feminine characteristic, that. So is competitive judging of looks…”
          You’re the dipsh!t who called him fat. Get a life.
          Is that masculine enough for your pitiful hating self?

        9. Good for you, Oli, but don’t regret quitting. Pity is better applied to those still smoking. Using substitutes would have been a bad idea btw.

      1. Yep, an “expert” on “masculinity” truly befitting Salon. Sadly, from what I can tell, there’s no (intentional) irony in his… output. See John_Salt’s astute comment above.

  5. “I have found big cities are thoroughly liberal.”
    As a city fucker all my life, I can say that this is entirely true.
    I recall reading some studies that show that, paradoxically, social circles are smaller in large urban areas. This is a disadvantage I myself have to fight. I believe this contributes to the leftism of big cities- you’re bored and with less human contact, so you tend to think abstractly about shit to keep your mind occupied, despite no human beings actually ever acting that way in the real world.
    Is it any surprise why feminists talk about “consent being sexy” and having to ask about each step of the process (“may I take your shirt off?”), otherwise it’s “rape?” This happens because they probably haven’t had many actual sexual encounters, because they are isolated and bored (and well, the way they generally look wouldn’t make it a remote possibility in any sense either).
    People need to stop objectifying everything and start living.

    1. “Is it any surprise why feminists talk about “consent being sexy” and having to ask about each step of the process (“may I take your shirt off?”), otherwise it’s “rape?””
      Indeed, logic is often limited. Rationality and common sense are supreme.

    2. It’s not because they haven’t had any sexual encounters. It’s because their sexual encounters sucked and were with men they found repulsive.

  6. Populism has long been a rural crutch when it comes to politics. Think William Jennings Bryan. Being so often the “pointy end of the stick” economically, they seem to not have an understanding of who is pointing and driving the stick and why.
    I spent my summers on a farm in Indiana and I agree with the author on most of his observations about social life there.

  7. Good one. When i was in USA, i was stuck in Wisconsin. So much higher quality conversations and understanding i had with “conservative” country people, then with progressive liberal crowd in NYC. As much as i love city, being a stranger coming first time in an inhospitable area, i couldn’t wait to leave the place.
    Main difference between country and city people seems to be, that when you disagree with country people, you can still live with each other and be friends and cooperate. City people become frustrating and annoying when you are not 100% ideologically fit to their ideas and views of the world.

    1. Good point about country folk being more tolerant of differences of opinions, while I also find city liberals to be short fused intolerant assholes and bigoted hypocrites to boot.

  8. I like this article. I’m guessing Indiana from soybean/corn reference and the picture of the deputy sheriff? Too much of this site is targeted to big city and suburban types and our red state experience is often overlooked.
    I agree with the other commenter about the midwestern, northwest, southern, and I would add appalachian differences. I grew up in southern Appalachia and while women are more powerful now than they were 30 yrs ago (mostly because divorce is more prevalent) it is still a 100% patriarchal society. The first question you ask a younger person during an introduction is “who is your dad?”. A surname is a very important part of who you are because you can’t be “anonymous” in a small town.
    While your first two points are not exactly on the mark for my country experience (my country votes about 80% republican and the churches are so packed they need police to direct traffic after church is over) the second two are spot on. Once outside of the small town PD’s watchful eyes and in the jurisdiction of the county Sheriff one can mostly do as they please and the traditional Christian upbringing along with the personal freedom/privacy create a unique adolescent experience.

  9. Heartland America is indeed not as portrayed by city people but it is a bit saddening that the Patriarchy has become done with. Still though without rural farms society doesn’t exist, yet it seems the farmer is last on the list that today’s female wants to get with. Farmers are the backbone of society.
    It is also true that rural living makes a man stronger both physically and mentally because such a life one is required to use common sense as opposed to whatever mental excrement that gets spewed from the city colleges and universities these days.

  10. Good article. I didn’t grow up in the country, but my parents, aunts and uncles did, and my grandparents are some of the few remaining independent farmers over in central Illinois. I spent a lot of time on the farm growing up.
    I had a conversation similar to this with my uncle recently, a natural red-pill guy. He was going on about how women are a domineering force in his small town. Apparently, a big reason for this is the fact that in “the old days” (not too long ago, even), the man would spend his time in the field and tending livestock from sunrise to sunset, and the women needed to tend the house, the kids and do the shopping and cooking, etc. Unfortunately, those times are gone as big agro-corporations have bought almost everything and use government force to drive out the independent farmers. Yet the women, so long used to having almost absolute control over the household, haven’t been willing to give up that control and be “equals”, even when the men are much more present in the house these days. So much for gender equality.
    And yes, there is a wide spectrum of ideologies out there, and plenty of various weirdos. I’d say this article is right on point.

  11. On # 2:
    “I argued with a woman about a “controlling” husband who limited his wife’s
    autonomy. I pointed out that clearly the wife is in control and is
    manipulating your perception of the relationship because she needs you
    to see her in a certain way. The woman was completely offended by my
    Women know damn well they have, and have always had — all the power they have ever needed inside the framework of men and women’s relationships. Women always try very hard to, and almost always do control the relationship.
    Power out in the rest of the world is for men.
    This is why fathers gave away their daughters to men and the husbands were then responsible for them and pretty much “owned” them. This is why in so many places there are still arranged marriages (one reason anyway). Men instinctively knew that women HAD to be controlled…or else. As we all know, unattached women are good at pretty much one thing. Screwing up their lives, and the lives of others around them.

    1. Power in the WHOLE world is women’s. History supports the spell women have over men… Helen of Troy, Anne Boleyn, Cleopatra. Many things become possible when a man wants a woman.

  12. How common is drunk driving in the country? Since there really aren’t any taxis or public transportation, it seems to me that anyone who goes out to a restaurant, bar, or a friend’s house and has a few is going to be driving back home. So, is the stererotype of rampant drunk driving in rural areas true?

    1. I grew up in the middle of nowhere VA. We had many parties in high school with drinking. Everyone either camped out, spent the night with a friend, called their parents or had a DD. Lots of parents practiced tolerance to drinking as long as no one drove.

  13. Wasn’t Family Law a hoot? I swear, that was the scariest class I ever took in law school. An entire semester devoted to reading hundreds of cases of men getting screwed and raped by divorce court rulings, getting passports confiscated, wages garnished, etc. My hornbook gave me nightmares. To this day, I believe my fear of marriage stems from sitting through that class

    1. I’m certain rural men do not have the market cornered on the white knight game. I would imagine urban and suburban white males (i.e. hipsters and frat boys) hold their own in the white knight olympics.

      1. True, soccer dads are the lowest losers there are. I don’t weep when they are ruined by divorce.

  14. Yep—great article. In rural areas you have to work things out. You can’t make a federal case of everything. The sheriff /police can’t be everywhere so folks tend to use community to keep order. In my small town there were no child protective services. No army of social worker do-gooders. There was a young boy in grade school who was being beat up /abused by his single mom’s ( natch) white trash boyfriend. Well some dad’s (my pop included) got together for an “intervention” and lo and behold this fella suddenly skipped town. I heard later that the cops knew about this but turned a blind eye.

  15. I remember a small-town sheriff in the Southeastern US telling me not to waste his time “unless there was a body” …
    There were multiple interpretations of that statement, and I considered them all to be valid.

  16. Alright some of this is just very Midwest values, not just in the rural parts. I’m from a city in Iowa and I can still say this is part of how I grew up

  17. Excellent piece. Mirrors my existence in the rural west coast. I have increasingly thought the ongoing divide in this country isn’t left/right, conservative/liberal… it’s rural/urban. I postulate we “hicks” hold the upper hand as when this bloated system finally collapses, it won’t be us running to the cities… they will come running to us. And they’ll be shit out of luck.

  18. Kings — it’s time to reveal yourself behind the masks of your “pen names.” How can you dominate while hiding your true identity?

  19. Good Post.
    I grew up in Rural New Zealand in the 80s, pretty much sums up my experiences too.
    Largely, Men at work for long hours on the farm and Women ruling the home, and being the backbone of any Church/community based organisation, but not always.
    Gret deal of crime but quite a lot of drinking and suicide. I knew at least of tow neighbours who killed themselves, alcohol abuse largley to blame.
    There is a freedom to rural living that you cant get in the city, in fact the very idea of living in a large city fills me with horror.

  20. Um, I’m female am I allowed to comment? Sorry, long time reader of this blog, but I genuinely enjoyed this article so much I wanted to comment. I spent a significant part of my childhood growing up in the Appalachian mountains and I agree wholeheartedly. There are certain things that you learn growing up country. Sense of community, sense of self and a general competence.

  21. My own life and upbringing too. Nice to see my own experiences and views shared with a broader audience who will, hopefully, be able to see through the rank ignorance and associated arrogance of urbanite reporters drivel. Both the sickeningly sweet happy-talk about the noble rustics tending nature, and the nasty condemnations of bible-clinging, gun-hugging, knuckle-dragging racists. Thanks, 2wycked.

  22. Some of the most pussy-whipped motherfuckers I know are the most “conservative.”

    I grew up in Oklahoma and could not agree more.

  23. I have lived in small-town Texas my entire life, and in my blue pill days I thought it was the source of all my misery. Now that I’m older and have been all over this great land of ours, I’m proud of being from a small town in the middle of nowhere. From what I’ve noticed, most people who bitch about how “backwards” and “inbred” their small, country hometown is are usually so douchebaggedly (to coin a term) liberal that nobody in their hometown likes them anymore.

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