The most disturbing thing about “Dear Future Husband” is that Meghan Trainor perpetuates the dangerous notion that relationships are founded on shallow exchanges. She demonstrates this perspective through the lyrics “If you treat me right, I’ll be the perfect wife, buying groceries”” buying what you need,” and particularly when saying “if you wanna get that special lovin’ tell me that i’m beautiful each and every night.”
The suggestion that compliments related to beauty can be exchanged for sexual interest or favors is an enormously pervasive idea and currently one of the most damaging misconceptions of romance and relationships. This perpetuates the extremely untrue notion that women want to be complimented on their appearances more than anything else, and once these compliments are paid, the women become obligated, through no choice of their own, to thank the person in some way.
Secretly debilitating expressions in the media, such as “Dear Future Husband” can train men to believe that complimenting a woman’s appearance is the ultimate validation, or source of confidence and happiness, that a woman can achieve. Once this belief is understood as an underlying truth, it is simple and even logical for these same men to conclude that after this compliment is given, if romantic interactions go the way that people like Trainor promise, the women should owe them sex to some degree.
It suggests that sex in return for ego-boosting should be the norm, that women should have no qualms about engaging in this behavior, and that a women’s decision to have sex is equally as valuable as lackluster, cookie-cutter compliments. The lyrics promote a template that women are easily placated, insecure, gold-digging robots who are eager to exchange sex for rings, flowers and compliments. This is dangerous because, if a woman with any amount of complexity is viewed as a malfunctioning machine, U.S. society will become a more dangerous place for women who are ever unwilling to engage in these transactions.
This attitude is detrimental to all people who aren’t routinely wooed into a sexual or romantic relationship by a compliment that could essentially be a catcall (e.g. most people, except, apparently, Trainor). Although this may sound like abstraction and theory, the belief in the trade that Trainor promotes manifests daily in cases of rape and sexual assault that occur because of confusion of what behavior guarantees sex (incase there’s still confusion, there is no such behavior).
The irony in Trainor’s video is laughable as she glamorizes the oppressive standard for women from the 1940s-50s, and then purports a rejection of this insulting perspective when saying, “Don’t be thinking I’ll be home and baking apple pies.” This makes it seem like Trainor rejects the feminized act of baking to make the claim of being a modern, educated woman, which allows her to continue to have extremely heteronormative, restrictive views of relationships.
Trainor also exhibits a clear misunderstanding of how equality and communication work in healthy relationships, demanding that her partner apologize after every fight, no matter what the fight is about… that’s some flawless logic. She perpetuates the still-prevalent medieval perception of women as hysterical when saying, “treat me like a lady, even when I’m acting crazy.” Not to mention her dismissal of her husband’s need to retain a healthy familial support system (in a clearly manipulative relationship, nonetheless) when saying “Don’t leave me lonely, and know we’ll never see your family more than mine”. Rude.
While the lyrics to “Dear Future Husband” are detrimental to nearly every demographic involved, the video can be particularly upsetting to people who don’t fit perfectly into the gender roles that Trainor glamorizes (which might be progressing toward moving on their way out if it weren’t for fatal reminders like Trainor’s videos). In general, Trainor demands to be on the receiving end of actions rooted in gender inequality that are beneficial for her (men opening doors for her), in exchange for sexual favors.
In doing these small actions, like insisting on unequal gender behaviors, Trainor sustains an incorrect perception of women’s rights advocacy. “Dear Future Husband” will forever be available for opponents of women’s rights to point to and say “You say you want men and women to be treated equally, but if that happens, you’ll lose all these benefits that women clearly enjoy!”
Trainor also supports cutthroat rigid boundaries of masculinity by dismissing men for being unable to hit the maximum on the test-your-strength machine. The confused and dismayed face the guy made after Trainor dismisses him for this reason could not demonstrate more accurately my face while watching this entire music video. Generally, the notion that men have to be machismo in order to be legitimate as human beings is extremely poisonous (and, it should be obvious, incorrect).
Not only is this a hurtful and damaging perspective to and instilling in boys and men, but this is a deadly notion to promote because desperate attempts to prove masculinity in the understanding that this is the way to win respect (and attractiveness) can manifest in very real, explosive, violent results.
The perpetuation of this gender ideal supplements rape culture conditions men to believe that they should do anything possible in order to be “man enough” to win the prize of the ideal woman (which I guess, in this situation, is Meghan Trainor… okay).
Generally, Trainor’s video demonstrates the same pervasive, detrimental gender perceptions and relationship understandings that have always had resounding negative impacts.
However, “Dear Future Husband” is painful to watch flourish as a popular song and video because it promotes the idea that sex is an obligation, that men must match up to herculean ideals or perish, and that “special treatment” or unequal gender behaviors are okay as long as they’re rewarded. The more “Dear Future Husband” is dissected, the more it becomes apparent that Trainor seems to have chosen the most damaging themes to be displayed to U.S. society and both exploited and glamorized them in one overall depressing song.
Guest columns should be arranged with managing editor Megan Julian (firstname.lastname@example.org) at least one week prior to publication.