By: Jenna A
Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” has put her at the top of basically every music chart, everywhere. Her catchy lyrics and bubblegum 50s-esque melodies are quickly making her a household name. And while, the thought of a female artist achieving major success somewhat excites, the prospect of Meghan gaining a widespread following is scary considering the insidious nature of her songs. No, playing her music backwards does not reveal a message from the Illuminati (at least, not to my knowledge). But her lyrics are as misogynistic as they are snappy, and I find it disheartening that the western world is alight with the phrase “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night” and is readily associating it with body positivity.
We’ve long since come to the conclusion that, despite what mainstream media might tell you, Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” is far from empowering, albeit fun to sing along to. Not only does it tell girls that the way they feel about their bodies should be dependent upon what men think about it, a la the aforementioned quote, but also pits women against each other. The world is not separated into those with “bass” and “skinny bitches”. Women should not be vying for body shape superiority, should not be tossing things like “boys like meat, bones are for dogs” and, comparatively, “boys like girls who look strong and healthy and fertile” back and forth because truthfully, who gives a shit what boys like. And while I get that it is not Meghan’s responsibility to lead young girls into the promise land of self-confidence and unicorns and sisterhood, it sure would be nice if she could, at the very least, not perpetuate old-as-dirt ideas that turn a bouncy pop song into a sandstorm of internalized misogyny and girl hate.
Meghan’s newest music video “Dear Future Husband” is a mess of cliches, stereotypes, and sexism wrapped up in pastel packaging and sealed with a kiss. Bedecked in determinedly-edgy housewife dresses and aprons, Meghan insists that her future husband “treat her like a lady” even when “she’s acting crazy”. She then goes on to demand that “after every fight” he “apologize” and know that even if she was wrong, she wasn’t, because she never is. Yeah, I’m lost too. The whole “placating husband consoles irrational wife” trope is boring at best. At worst, it plays straight into the hands of misogynists who attempt to discredit women by invalidating their emotions. It is not an ideal to strive for; it’s not even healthy. She tries to acknowledge her career when she sings “You got that 9 to 5, but, baby, so do I, so don’t think I’ll be home and baking apple pies”, and if that had been that, I would have been thrilled, However, she attempts to validate her demands by stating that “she’ll be the perfect wife”, “buy groceries” and, if she gets to “sleep on the left side of the bed”, even give some “kisses”. Ahem. It’s clear, both by the previous lyrics and the various types housework she does in the video that she has assigned herself the role of housewife and her husband the role of provider, stereotypes that are constricting and not the least bit romantic.
When MTV News asked her about the blatant sexism the video portrays, Trainor responded, “No, I don’t think I was (being sexist). I was just writing my song to my future husband out there, wherever he is.” And perhaps to her, that’s all it was. A fun song in response to the body hate she may have experienced in the past. A fun song about the lover she hopes to find. It’s true that it’s not Meghan’s responsibility to write songs about female liberation; to suggest that it is would be a form of sexism in itself, as it’s not something we demand of her male counterparts. That being said, it would be nice to see a woman with as much influence as she is rapidly gaining write songs that encourage women to live their lives as sentient, brilliant, confident human beings that exist by themselves, not just in relation to men. Hopefully, in time, she’ll learn to use her impressive songwriting ability to set the world on fire with music that doesn’t tear down and discredit her fellow girls, but rather empowers and inspires them.