What’s wrong with a video that shows images of a woman in 50s garb cooking and cleaning while looking for a man? That seems to be the question that everyone is asking about Meghan Trainor’s video “Dear Future Husband,” and the shit is flying in all directions in the quest for an answer. After the amazing reception that “All About That Bass” got for being a body positive anthem, people are decrying Trainor for promoting tired stereotypes of relationships and gender roles.
Trainor doesn’t think anything she said is sexist. “Everyone’s going to say something,” the singer told ET at the Kids’ Choice Awards Saturday. “I don’t think it’s sexist. I just wrote a song for my particular future husband out there, wherever he is. I’m just preparing him. Lettin’ him know what’s up.”
Sure, Trainor is allowed to set whatever rules or preferences she wants for her future husband, but as someone who’s in the spotlight, especially among young girls, it’s not out of line for people to question the messages she’s sending when she lays out what she wants in a relationship. And there are some extremely troubling things in this song, most of them worse than her floor scrubbing and jokes about baking.
There are some good things in this song. Trainor says she’ll be working 9-5, not at home baking, and she happily welcomes a guy with a pizza rather than someone who tries to give her a tiny meal she’s not interested in. But the way that she sets up the relationship is worrying in that she treats herself like a prize that her man needs to win by performing the right set of actions.
She tells him she expects flowers regularly, that he needs to admit that she’s always right (even if she’s not right…that doesn’t sound healthy), and relies on the tired trope of the “crazy woman” to say that he has to “put up” with her no matter what. She says “if you’ll treat me right, I’ll be the perfect wife, buying groceries, buy-buying what you need,” as if the role of a woman is shopping. The worst line in my mind was “I’ll be sleeping on the left side of the bed/open up some doors for me and you might get some…kisses.” No one should have to earn sex acts, and no one should feel that the only way they’ll “give out” sex is if someone else does the right combination of things. It seems to me that if someone wants to sing about sexing up their partner, they should sing about doing it because they want to.
Beyond the weird relationship dynamics the song seems to promote, the video also shows Trainor rejecting a man for not being strong enough. There’s already enough people who think that feminism and female empowerment come at the expense of men, or that women just want alpha males. We really don’t need any more images to add fuel to that fire.
I personally am completely sick of the idea that a man has to earn a woman, and most particularly a woman’s body. This reeks of nice guy logic that says the right number of flowers and presents is the key to opening up a lady’s womanparts for sex, and yet also seems to insult men by implying that only the alpha menfolks are good enough. Relationships should probably be about mutual enjoyment of each other’s company, respect, and actually feeling that your life is improved by the other person. This song just seems to reiterate that relationships are a transactional interaction, in which one party buys and the other sells.
The problem to me doesn’t seem to be that Trainor cooks and cleans in the video. It’s everything else. Watch and decide for yourself.