Dear Future Husband

Alright, alright. So Meghan Trainor released this music video and people have very strong feelings about it. As someone with very strong feelings, I was surprised that mine differed.

Trainor explains, "I want to make sure guys take me on a date and treat me right because I didn't do that in the past," but critics have blamed her for "basing her self-worth on male acceptance." I really don't think that's true, she's not desperate for any approval. She knows she's awesome (remember last summer's body-loving anthem?), and she won't settle for someone who doesn't recognize that.

The video creates an an interesting role reversal (it's not necessarily good, but it's certainly refreshing) to see a 50s style throwback without the women being submissive. Rather, it's the men being objectified.

Yes, work it, you sexy red headed backup dancer.
Trainor makes it clear that she's turning the 50s stereotype around: "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." She's independent. It's nice to see a song where the woman gets to call the shots in her perfect relationship. 

Admittedly, there are a lot of lyrics I don't like as well. It's a little concerning that she's marginalizing her partner's needs. She promises to buy groceries and kiss him, but will she tell him he's handsome as often as she demands he call her beautiful? Will she support him and respect him as much as he'll do for her? We may never know.

The lyrics may be all about her, but honestly, for this song, that's ok. Trainor has every right to look for specific things in a relationship. She's not claiming that all relationships should be like this, or that every woman should get married. By accusing this video of being so wrong, I worry that people step uncomfortably close to the very sexism they think they're criticizing; implying that women should be docile, submissive, and accept whatever their man gives them. Trainor refuses to settle, and there's nothing wrong with fighting to get what you want and deserve. 

Again, would I want the type of relationship she's describing? No. I don't want a partner to tell me I'm always right. I won't do all the grocery shopping, and I'm not really a flowers-every-anniversary-girl. But I would want to be with someone who respects me and treats me well, and I think that's the point. 

So let's talk about the actual video. The plot is pretty simple, she meets four different guys who fail to impress her in a variety of ways. A lot of the blowback has been about how she's being sexist with all these heteronormative stereotypes (men should be strong, etc), so let's meet the suitors.

1. The Cook 

Maybe she's just not a seafood person. Back off, man.

This guy shows up with a giant box of chocolates, creepily eyeing the peephole. He makes her a super fancy, gourmet style single scallop (That's what that is, right? A scallop? Is that what I'm looking at?), but she shakes her head and pushes it away. He insists, puts it on a fork and literally tries to feed her as she makes gross faces. The guy can't take a "no", and yet, he's surprised when she leaves.

2. The Strong Man

This one brings flowers and then tries to impress her at a carnival. He keeps trying the strength tester but landing on "sad sack". Eventually, she just walks away. This one is admittedly the most questionable, and I think it can go two ways, based on how you interpret her reaction.

Option 1: He's not strong enough for her. I don't totally buy this, the song isn't about finding a "strong man" as much as it is finding someone to treat her well. But alright, let's say it is. It's pretty shallow, and a sexist way to measure worth, but she's allowed to have preferences. If she wants a strong man, he's not the guy for her. She's doesn't insult him, question his worth, or shame him, she just leaves, and that's fine.

Dude, seriously, you're gonna do this? Ugh, we were having such a good time.
Option 2: Like the first guy, this one just isn't listening. Her "disappointed" reaction comes right after he takes off his jacket to try to show off. She's not making him do this, he's the one who won't stop. He keeps trying to prove to her, over and over, that he's strong. It's like a guy that brags about how much he can bench, all the babes he can get, or how much money he has.

3. The Sailor

Sit the fuck down. 
He brings her a little blue gift box and takes her out on a boat. It seems fun, until he tries to stand up. She tells him to sit down, she gets sea-sick, and he doesn't listen. They capsize. She leaves.

4. The winner!

What a cutie.
He just brings her pizza. Thats it. He didnt cook for her, didn't try to woo her, and isn't muscular, but he comes off as casual and comfortable, like he just wants to get to know her and have a good time, and she immediately pulls him inside. Ding ding ding. We have a winner.

The first three guys all embodied some "typical, idealized, romantic quality". A gourmet chef, a romantic sailor, a wannabe macho strong man. But none of them suited her. They didn't listen to what she wanted, they just kept trying to impress her. She's well within her rights to turn them all down, they're not entitled to anything. 

That's why I think this song is so much more about being able to ask for what you want and say no to what you don't, instead of being about finding a "perfect man" to marry and be subservient to.

Being treated the way you deserve? I can totally get behind that.

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