I will be the first to admit that I have a self-professed love-hate relationship with Meghan Trainor. This opinion originally stemmed from the fact that she considers herself a symbol for female empowerment, though she does not consider herself to be a feminist (Hampp, “Meghan Trainor”). Another reason for my negative bias is that she has a tendency to both uplift and oppress women in her songs.
Meghan Trainer herself combats both the media’s and the public’s unhealthy obsession with women being “thin”, but it is not without a cost. In her most popular song, “All About That Bass”, she promotes a curvier body style, but conversely excludes those women who have a slimmer body shape. This exclusion of a good portion of the female population is understandable considering that the topic of different, healthy body sizes is still fresh and the execution will obviously not be perfect. But what is less understandable is the issue presented in her newer song, “Dear Future Husband”. The song leaves the average feminist with mixed feelings as the lyrics both promote and reject the patriarchy all at once.
The term patriarchy is characterized as “any culture that privileges men by promoting traditional gender roles” (Tyson 80). We live in a patriarchal society that is a fact that no one would be able to deny. We value sports over homemaking, war over knitting, and any traditional “feminine” behavior as less respected. The motif of the stay at home wife is a perfect example of one of the many products of our patriarchal society. Typically when we think of the historical model of the “perfect wife”, we think of a women who cooks, cleans, and desires to please her husband. Meghan Trainor at first combats the notion of the societal idealization of the “perfect wife” by singing:
You got that 9 to 5
But, baby, so do I
So don’t be thinking I’ll be home and baking apple pies
I never learned to cook
But I can write a hook
While she asserts that she has a job, and therefore provides at least some part of the household income, she inadvertently falls back into the traditional notion of the “perfect wife” by numerously referencing the exchange of goods and services for either sexual or submissive behaviors. Some of the lines are as follows:
And don’t forget the flowers every anniversary
‘Cause if you’ll treat me right
I’ll be the perfect wife
Buy-buying what you need
And later goes on to sing:
Just be a classy guy
Buy me a ring
Buy-buy me a ring (babe)
In both of these examples, Meghan Trainor asserts that she will conform to the patriarchal ideals of the “perfect wife” if her future husband fulfills his role as the provider, even though she makes money and has a job of on her own. This implies that money and flowers will buy her affection and her submissiveness toward her husband.
The exchange of goods for services is not the only issue that is presented in this song that combats feminist ideology, but also that of women being termed “hysterical”. Tyson, in her critical theory book, reiterates that hysteria is diagnosed almost exclusively to women characterized as “over emotional” while male counterparts are given a less severe diagnosis, such as “shortness of temper” instead (82). The idea that women tend to be more emotional and are consequently less logical than men is also endorsed in this song when she sings:
You gotta know how to treat me like a lady
Even when I’m acting crazy
Tell me everything’s alright
This presents that her future husband, the logical and rational one, would be the one who would have to endure Meghan Trainor’s “hysterics” because she is unable to do so herself as she is the emotional, irrational one in the relationship.
While this song presents more issues than I would be able to address in this blog post, there are certain songs of Meghan Trainor’s that positively represent women, such as “NO” and “Lips Are Moving”. If you would like an introduction to Meghan Trainor’s music, I would recommend those songs over the more popular ones I have written about today as they have a better message.