When Meghan Trainor came up with her new song, “Dear Future Husband,” she thought she was writing an empowering song for young girls. But she accidentally became the champion of “an obnoxiously high-maintenance, heteronormative pipe nightmare poorly disguised as a swirly rainbow lollipop of girl power.” Oops. I hate it when that happens.
“Dear Future Husband” is a song with a title that instills eye rolls. It’s an open letter to the fictional man Trainor plans to marry, which sounds like an adolescent girl’s fantasy. But it has inspired a kind of blind rage from the op-ed corners of the internet. Young girls in 2015 aren’t supposed to want to be a part of a heteronormative, monogamous union. Or if they are, they’re supposed to be subtle about it. And there isn’t much subtle about Trainor at all.
Trainor has big, blonde hair and tends to wear brightly colored pleather skirts and animal prints. She is most well-known for a song called “All About That Bass”—the kind of earwig that gets caught in your head on repeat when you hear a snippet on the radio or in a store, even if (like me before writing this) you can’t retain anything beyond the titular lyrics and neglect to take notice that it is actually a song about body acceptance.
Maybe Meghan Trainor’s ’50s Getup Is the Real Problem
If you can listen closely enough to “Dear Future Husband” to notice that Meghan is more interested in her future mate understanding her priorities and needs than fitting into his idea of a picture-perfect wife, it would be easy to forget when watching the video that was released last week. It relies heavily on the throwback elements of the song, complete with white picket fences and Meghan in a 1950s housewife getup, cleaning the floors and playing in the kitchen. It seems this aesthetic is what has really set people off.
The video was released on Monday and quickly met some girl-on-girl violence. Kate Beaudoin at Mic.com called it “the Most Sexist Thing You’ll See Today.” Meanwhile, Salon’s Anna Silman has already dubbed it “The worst song of 2015” (here’s hoping that declaration can last her the next nine and a half months). According to Mic.com, the problem with the song is that “Trainor bases her self-worth on male acceptance.”
But music videos are an imperfect narration device, and Trainor’s lyrics don’t match the imagery on the screen. Unlike the 1960s R&B and gospel songs “Dear Future Husband” echoes, Meghan isn’t singing about the ways she’s going to please her man. She isn’t pulling a Dusty Springfield, advising women to “do the things he likes to do / Wear your hair just for him, ‘cause You won’t get him/ Thinkin’ and a-prayin’ / Wishin’ and hopin’.”
How Dare Women Be Honest Or Decisive
Instead, she’s letting this fictional person (or anyone who wants to fill that slot) know what her expectations are:
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
Sing along with me
Weirdly, setting her own expectations for a relationship seems to be exactly what bothers Mic’s Beaudoin, who goes on to write: “God forbid men should have a say in matters of marriage, be thin or wish to disagree with Meghan Trainor when she is, so clearly, so very wrong.”
So now Meghan doesn’t care ENOUGH about male acceptance? Weird.
In an interview with Billboard, last fall Trainor said she did “Dear Future Husband” because she believes “girls need to be treated better. I never got that growing up…In high school, I didn’t date awesome dudes.” How disgusting! What a terrible motive for writing a song. Do little girls really deserve to be treated better in relationships? Isn’t that a little…high-maintenance?
It seems almost restrained that Salon would deem something that despicable: “a literal garbage pile of horrible retrograde gender stereotypes.” At xojane, the title of the song is enough to cause an aneurism:
The title and first line of the song are hugely problematic. This premise is upsetting, to say the least. The assumption that she’s going to get married (I mean, it’s just what normal people do, right?), the impersonality, the putting-the-cart-before-the-horse-ness of it all — it doesn’t sit well with me.
How DARE a woman want to get married? I mean, she can want to get married, but she shouldn’t say that out loud. Like, if you want to actually get married one day and…ugh, if it has to be in a heterosexual relationship…can you just be a little quiet about it?
We’re Not Really Sure Why, But It’s Wrong
The xojane article devolves further, as they are wont to do. Trainor’s lyrics about wanting to go on a date are particularly infuriating to this writer. She says, “Take me on a date / I deserve it, babe,” and at xojane, those are fighting words: “Wait — are we talking about dating or marriage? And you deserve a date? You’re not owed a date, especially not with that presumptuous attitude.”
It’s 2015. Have we decided that a woman who wants to be asked on a date by someone interested in her is scum? Okay, thanks, just checking.
“Dear Future Husband” is not an anthem telling girls how they should act to get a man. It’s not a sermon about how only heterosexuals should have the right to get married. In theory, it is a song by one girl to the hypothetical man she may marry one day. But it has hit a nerve.
Trainor’s critics have gone from decrying her heteronormativity to pingponging back into cutting her down for being female and expressing preferences for her own life. This particular line from xojane sounds like it could have been written by the president of the men’s rights movement: “Did someone tell Meghan Trainor that feminism is unchecked, unconditionally rewarded female chauvinism and disrespect for men?”
Never in this song does Meghan Trainor slam men. Nor does she badmouth another female or generalize that her opinions should speak for all #allwomen. Yet it met an apoplectic response around the web (by mostly women) who jumped at the chance to knock her down a peg for presumptuously assuming that someone would want to take her on a date.
Good work, Internet.