Meghan Trainor’s Songs are Not Empowering

Since the idea for this blog arose from discussing Meghan Trainor’s songs with a friend, it seems only fitting to make that the topic of the first post. If you’d like to know more about what this blog will be about or my general feelings about pop culture, view the “About” tab up top. Though, if you’re reading now, I hope you stick around and leave a comment below.

With that out of the way, on to the show.

Meghan Trainor is the bubbly pop singer who rocketed to stardom with the “body-acceptance” anthem “All About the Bass.”

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She’s all about the pastels, too.

The song is incredibly catchy and dance-worthy, but it’s…well…problematic as well. It both denigrates skinny body types while continuing to base the worth of a female’s body on whether it appeals sexually to a man.  More than that, there are some race implications that suck hard-core. Namely, a white woman should not be singing about “bringing booty back” while  using black women as marginalized accessories in her video. Black and latino women, by the way, actually did bring booty back.

But that song has been talked about enough (and analyzed much better than I could). I’d like to talk about another Meghan Trainor song that should finally cement her as completely uninterested in female empowerment. This song is unimaginatively titled “Dear Future Husband” and tells her future husband how he should treat her if he ever wants to have sex again.

And that’s the first major problem with the song: Trainor’s only collateral in this hypothetical marriage is sex and, oddly enough, her ability to purchase groceries. For example:

Take me on a date
I deserve a break
And don’t forget the flowers every anniversary
‘Cause if you’ll treat me right
I’ll be the perfect wife
Buying groceries
Buy-buying what you need

Dear future husband,
Here’s a few things you’ll need to know if you want to be
My one and only all my life
Dear future husband,
If you wanna get that special lovin’
Tell me I’m beautiful each and every night

It continues in that vein, with Trainor essentially trading “appropriate” behaviors for “special lovin.'” At one point she even suggests that a blow job will be her husband’s reward for letting her sleep on the left side of the bed. It’s implying that the only thing a woman brings to a marriage is sex and that the only way to keep a man “in line” is by using that as a reward. So, men are dogs and sex is a bone. Do a trick, get a bone(r)!

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See what I did there?

My other problem with this song is that it’s addressed specifically to her future husband rather than a prospective boyfriend. Presumably, there will be a significant amount of time between meeting this future husband and actually getting married. So, why wait until you actually get married to tell him what you want? It gives the impression that her marriage to this future husband is not her choice. That, combined with the retro style of the song, makes it sound deliberately regressive.

Also, just to nitpick some more, one of Trainor’s requirements from her future husband is for him to buy her a ring. Again, doesn’t that come BEFORE you call him your husband?

This genre has also been done before, and better, by Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine.” That one at least 1) never threatened to withhold sex as punishment, and 2) is addressing any man, not just a husband.

And in case you weren’t convinced that Trainor should not be your feminist idol, here are some body-acceptance anthems that are better than “All About That Bass:” Mary Lambert’s “Body Love Part 1 & 2” and India Arie’s “Video.” Get those stuck in your head instead.

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