With 'Dear Future Husband,' Meghan Trainor proves she's all about that traditional gender role

It's not a man's job to open doors for women or a woman's role to always be right in arguments.

I first heard Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" when an excited coworker at a former job sent me the link to the video, which she believed to be the best thing to have happened in pop music in recent history.

I waited for the inevitable revelation that she was being sarcastic — there was no way anyone could think that annoyingly childish voice and grating beat were good music — but it never came. Over the next few months, it was impossible to avoid, showing up everywhere from grocery stores to a Republican Party election night gala from which I reported.

The problems with "All About That Bass," from its skinny-shaming to stress placed on what men think of women's bodies, are enumerated in great detail, but the revelation of lyrical minefields in Trainor's breakout hit weren't enough to stop her from revisiting her own particular brand of misogyny in her newest single, "Dear Future Husband."

The video calls back to a romanticized version of the 1950s or '60s, featuring a yellow version of a little pink house, complete with gramophone and groovy colors. But it's not just the setting that's reminiscent of an idealized version of the mid-20th century, the lyrics resurrect '50s-era gender roles.

"Take me on a date / I deserve it, babe / 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," Trainor, for lack of a better word, sings. She goes on to tell her future husband to just apologize after every fight and to open doors if he wants to get a little more of that booty to hold at night.

JuliaShumway3-22The video calls back to a romanticized version of the 1950s or '60s, featuring a yellow version of a little pink house, complete with gramophone and groovy colors. But it's not just the setting that's reminiscent of an idealized version of the mid-20th century, the lyrics resurrect '50s-era gender roles.

Trainor told Rolling Stone last year that a central theme of her album is coming to the realization that she deserves to be taken out on dates and treated with respect by potential romantic partners, not relegated to texts and booty calls. It's an admirable theme — there's nothing wrong with wanting to be treated well.

But respect isn't gendered. It's not a man's job to open doors for women or a woman's role to always be right in arguments. Instead of calling on her future husband to perform basic acts of human decency in exchange for kisses, Trainor could write her song to meet modern-day standards of gender equality.

Songs like "Dear Future Husband" are worse than a throwback to Snow White's "Someday My Prince Will Come." They force unhealthy relationships and the ideal of a woman whose sole duty is to please her man, while his only job is to keep her in jewelry and pretty dresses.

There's no problem with a woman opting to live as a wife or homemaker. My own mother left her job at a daycare to raise my younger brothers and me, and while I'm too into my chosen career to imagine not working, I respect the hard work she did. My parents, like most healthy couples I know, are inherently equal, and the relationship they modeled for us relies on mutual respect.

That respect, whether from a significant other or an unknown stranger, is not demanded but earned. "Dear Future Husband" doesn't earn it.

Reach the editor-in-chief at julia.shumway@asu.edu or follow @JMShumway on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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