Posted by: mvweast | March 26, 2015

Media and Women’s Image: Meghan Trainor

I’m sure a lot of you have read some of the controversy surrounding Meghan Trainor’s new song “Dear Future Husband”, but I thought it fit perfectly into our discussion about how media portrays women, as well as how celebrities can bring light to certain issues.

A few lyrics that stuck out to me were:

First, the seemingly anti-feminist lyrics:

‘Cause if you’ll treat me right
I’ll be the perfect wife
Buying groceries
Buy-buying what you need

This seems to say that being a good wife means buying groceries and doing other typical housewife duties.

After every fight
Just apologize
And maybe then I’ll let you try and rock my body right

and

I’ll be sleeping on the left side of the bed (hey)
Open doors for me and you might get some (pause) kisses
Don’t have a dirty mind

In both instances above, she could be viewed as sexualizing women, and herself, to get a guy to do what she wants him to do.

Second, the more feminist lyrics:

You got that 9 to 5
But, baby, so do I
So don’t be thinking I’ll be home and baking apple pies

Here, she seems to contradict everything else that she has been saying by stating that she will not be a housewife, that she wants to have a career too.

In addition to references to female roles, she also makes references to masculine roles and appearances as well. For example, there is one scene in the music video where her date is not strong enough to ring the bell at the carnival, so she dumps him. Could this be showing guys that they have to be strong in order to be found attractive by women?

Whether you agree with the controversy surrounding the song or think it’s all bent out of proportion, do you think little girls could take her references and imagery from the music video in a negative way (for example, how she is wearing an apron and sitting on the floor scrubbing the kitchen tiles)? As an up-and-coming celebrity, do you think she should be more careful about the lyrics she writes and the content of her music videos? Do you think the music video caters to the stereotype that women are simply after finding a husband? Do you think it’s as anti-feminist as people say?

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Responses

  1. I was so sad when this controversy started because this song is so darn catchy and I couldn’t stop singing it no matter what. I do think that this song was began with good intentions and was meant to portray women’s strength in being able to stand up for themselves and tell men how things are. However, I can see where some of the arguments are coming from. Meghan Trainor has received a lot of attention from the media about her songs and the internet in particular has been quick to point out the flaws in her feminist ideology. I think it is good to have a popular celebrity standing on the side of feminism who regularly makes public remarks about equality. Now, her songs may say something a little different, but it is still a positive thing to get people talking about.
    Overall, I think that Meghan could have made some better choices in her lyrics in so far as depicting gender equality. This song in particular is extremely hetero-normative and implies that women are better than men in certain respects. I do agree that she implies that men should look/act a certain way to be considered “manly” and therefore desirable which is not a positive message to present to young male fans.
    Another thing to take into account is that this video is based on a very 1950’s aesthetic and could be parodying these stereotypical roles that it portrays. Having the men be the strong bread winners and having the women stay home and cook an apple pie is the definition of the “American family” of the golden age.
    Either way, I think that she is a positive face for women’s empowerment and hopefully will make some better choices with her songs in the future.

  2. I was very intrigued by this because I initially thought it was satirical (I’m not very up on pop culture, so I hadn’t heard about the controversy surrounding this). I do think all celebrities and those in the public eye have a requirement to stand up for what they believe in (whatever that might be) and to be an advocate for making a better world. After listening to this song a few times now, it doesn’t exactly sit right with me because it does seem as though she is perpetuating the stereotype of women staying at home and expecting men also to act and look a certain way. As an influential person, especially for young women, I think even if she created this song and music video in a satirical nature it is still her responsibility as a leader to steer women in the correct direction and this doesn’t do that. While it was incredibly catchy and the music video was incredibly pleasing to watch, it isn’t portraying a good message for both men and women.

  3. I think this song is brilliant. She appeals to the still persistent view of the 50’s housewife that society seems to possess, as well as giving confidence to women that they shouldn’t settle. Honestly the contradiction is a jab at society and it’s contradiction on the subject. Society expects us to be one thing then scolds us for being that way. That’s where the “women can’t have it all” theory comes in. But I think the underlying message is about feminism and equality. She is saying women can still be the sweet housewife if they want, and still have the 9-5 job. I think as an up-and-coming celebrity she is doing a great job. Her songs empower women to not have the need to feel skinny and to appreciate their “bass” and to not settle for a man who lies or doesn’t treat her right. Women have the natural instinct to be communal and housewife-like and that’s not a bad thing so long as you balance it out with time for yourself whether that be work, community service, or personal time. Wilson says that we can’t wait to the culture to change so we should empower women any chance we get. Leaders go against the grain and that’s what makes them stand out. The media is what makes everything go hay-wire but that’s a story for another blog post.

  4. I definitely think that this video could be misconstrued VERY poorly. It could show her as a housewifely girl that’s looking for a perfect Prince Charming to wed. However paying attention it seems to me that the lyrics and some parts of the video suggest that shes looking for an equal, not some romantic super man. But again this isn’t the clearest message and some sections make this confusing. I don’t think she needs to be more careful with what she writes, shes allowed to write what she wants, however if shes looking to send a certain message she definitely needs to take a bit more thought into what she writes.

  5. I think what Trainor is portraying is absolutely brilliant. Similar to what Sarah said, I think she is poking fun at and mocking society about this controversially subject. Trainor is trying to show young girls that women can have it all. They can work “9-5” and still bake the “apple pie”. As a new celebrity, Meagan has been a great role model; at least she seems like one to me. For example; I know the media has commented on and made fun of her weight. However, Trainor ignores it 1) because she is NOT overweight, and 2) she is a role model for young girls, trying to teach them to love their body and not stress about how they should look a certain way due to social media and expectations (refer to her song “All About that Bass”). I think Trainor is trying to convey the message to young girls, and women to be their authentic selves, and not give in and comply to what the media expects of them.
    As a leader, Trainor takes her own spin on feminism through her lyrics. I will say, I’m unsure of what she is trying to say about men. If she is for gender equality, maybe she could have portrayed men in the music video NOT trying to live up to societal expectations (i.e. being strong, a breadwinner, and hyper masculine). Either she is poking fun at society through this, or she is falling into gender expectations

  6. I have mixed feelings about the controversy surrounding this song. I think that Meghan Trainor has incredible talent and that she has the opportunity to use her lyrics as a way to reach out to young women. However I do agree with you that as an upcoming artist she needs to be a bit more careful with her lyrics. I find myself almost hypocritical saying that because the other half of me wants to say, “Just let her write what ever she wants! You go girl! Sing it out loud!” This song sort of strikes me as one of those songs that is super catchy so it becomes popular quickly before anyone truly realizes what the lyrics are saying. Like that hip hop or rap song you kind of mumble along to and then realize that they are basically talking about something you wouldn’t be dead talking about. While I think that Meghan is going in the right direction with a song like this I don’t think she hit it on the nail with this one. The lyrics are very contradicting and while I am all for strong and independent women I am not a fan of her bashing men in order to present that image of herself. She should use her talent to show that women should expect a high standard of respect from men and not that they should focus on physical strength and a gage of their ‘manhood.’ She needs to focus her energy on positive femininity instead of man-crushing feminism. Because man-crushing feminism does not help women advance any where, in fact it makes us even less approachable.

  7. I don’t think this video is anti-feminist at all, but could actually be empowering to the more traditionally feminine women who choose to uphold gender stereotypes and norms. I think the message of this video is that women can buy groceries for their husbands and do other household chores while maintaining a career and that she needs to find a man who can keep up with her standards for a husband. I didn’t get the feeling that this video and song were entirely about finding a husband, but were more about letting them come to her and not settling for a man who couldn’t balance his own life like she could. I can see how some people might view the video in a different way, but I don’t necessarily believe that she needs to change anything about her music. I don’t think this video should be under such scrutiny when so many male musicians make music that directly and blatantly degrade and objectify women.

  8. I wouldn’t take it to be anti-feminist but show another example how a woman can have that balance within her life, between having a family and maintaining a career. Just because a wife want to cook for the husband or provide certain things to the household, they shouldn’t be look down upon either because they made the choice that suited them. However, Meghan Trainor as an singer has song that do combat a different issue that is present in today world like her song “all about the bass” which talked about celebrating a normal women’s body and not some barbie doll. So her influence on young teenagers is not a bad thing and isn’t teaching them that life is all about finding a husband.

  9. I think the controversy surrounding the song is ridiculous. I think it is completely satirical. Yes, she does reject a boy who tries to impress her with his muscles but maybe that is because she is rejecting the shallow attempt of a man to entice her with his looks instead of his personality. In the end, she accepts a boy who wanted to eat pizza and spend time in with her, possibly to get to know her better. I just think everyone makes a lit of assumptions about this song. She has a mix of satirical lyrics and feminist lyrics. If anyone has heard Pink’s song Stupid Girls, her entire song at a glance would seem extremely anti feminist but in truth she is expressing her concern for the state of women in popular culture. I think Meghan is just expressing that women should be able to do what they want. Yes, some women may be fulfilled by scrubbing floors or want a man for something different than his muscular abilities and that is okay. I think the focus should be on women leadership and not what women choose to do beyond that.

  10. I think the controversy surrounding the song is ridiculous. I think it is completely satirical. Yes, she does reject a boy who tries to impress her with his muscles but maybe that is because she is rejecting the shallow attempt of a man to entice her with his looks instead of his personality. In the end, she accepts a boy who wanted to eat pizza and spend time in with her, possibly to get to know her better. I just think everyone makes a lot of assumptions about this song. She has a mix of satirical lyrics and feminist lyrics. If anyone has heard Pink’s song Stupid Girls, her entire song at a glance would seem extremely anti feminist but in truth she is expressing her concern for the state of women in popular culture. I think Meghan is just expressing that women should be able to do what they want. Yes, some women may be fulfilled by scrubbing floors or want a man for something different than his muscular abilities and that is okay. I think the focus should be on women leadership and not what women choose to do beyond that.

  11. It is a slippery slope when we go around and apply feminist logic to everything. Sometimes things don’t need to be analyzed. I think that Trainor’s song is just a song. Her lyrics are a reflection of how she feels and what you will like her future husband to know. I don’t think that she is an anyway telling young girls what to look for in a husband or how they need to act. If we as a culture are going to take songs and turn them into life-lessons or singer into our life coaches then according to Usher’s song “I Don’t Mind”, all women should be strippers if they want to date a multimillionaire music mogul. I understand that pop culture influences the young and penetrates all of our minds but sometimes a song is just a song. It is a piece of self-expression about the artist’s personal views.
    There is another point I want to make about applying “feminist” logic. How is buying groceries anti-feminist? I hear the argument that she implies buying groceries is the only way to be a good wife. Let’s take a step off our high horses and think: we, as human beings need food to survive and where does this food come from in modern day America? The grocery store. She is being a good wife and a good person, frankly, by not letting her husband and herself starve to death. Does it say in the song the husband will never have to buy food? No. The problem with going on an anti-feminist witch hunt is, especially, in songs and art is we never truly know the intent of the artist, the hidden meaning between a lyrics or a brush stroke. So more often than not, people read between the lines, imply a stance or political statement, and present it as intent. Although I respect all points of views, I acknowledge the bias.


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