—By Elise Gorberg—
Music is a forum for social issues, and the subject of feminism in music has become anything but uncommon. Breakout pop singer Meghan Trainor is one of many artists who have tried to join the girl-power movement, but she doesn’t quite make the cut.
I’m sure you’ve heard “All About That Bass” by now, and maybe even had it stuck in your head a few times. Admittedly, it’s a catchy song, but its lyrics warrant a second look. In using the word “bass,” Trainor is obviously referring to a larger physical shape for girls, assuring them that this body type is nothing to be ashamed of.
This would be perfectly acceptable, if it weren’t for the explanation that follows. She justifies having a fuller figure by claiming that it is appealing to men. While this may seem like a refreshing break from the ever-present expectation for girls to be skinny, Trainor is continuing to promote the objectification of women, just from a new angle.
Her emphasis on the importance of male judgment is ultimately a setback for feminism, and frankly, I don’t want to see society exhuming ancient, antifeminist values from 50 years ago. Being in the spotlight gives Trainor a tremendous amount of influence, so rather than prompting girls to base their self-worth off of male opinion, she should be encouraging them to find their own self-respect first.
And it gets worse.
Within the songs on Trainor’s debut album, Title, are a slew of lyrics containing misogynistic connotations. On a track titled “Dear Future Husband,” Trainor outlines the unreasonably high standards she holds for the man she will eventually marry, telling him to care for her and treat her “like a lady.” Just like the song’s undoubtedly 50s vibe, these words are anything but progressive. They provide a stereotype, a cookie-cutter shape into which every female should supposedly fit.
Why is this a problem? Because with each girl comes a different depiction of a woman’s societal role, and no one wants to be told where they belong, myself included. As a female on the verge of adulthood, I would like to think that I am not expected to be an object of male possession, but rather a substantial contributor to society.
Furthermore, the song “Title” sums up the theme of Trainor’s album in one line—“treat me like a trophy, put me on the shelf.” She is literally asking to be seen as an object, not a person. Disguised as a feminist, Trainor is inconspicuously tearing down girls’ aspirations to be more than just housewives.
Gender equality is on the rise, but it’s also in a precarious position. In this year alone, we’ve seen numerous acts of feminism, and to call Trainor a feminist is to give her so-called feminist action the same credit as those who have actually managed to spread a positive message. Trainor is damaging the progress made by women in the long-standing struggle for gender equality by telling them to assume the roles that men have wanted them to fill for decades.
If Meghan Trainor has an ounce of feminism in her body, then she is completely misguided in her representation of it. If you are trying to empower your female listeners, try writing a song containing a message that is actually feminist. After all, how influential can a person be if her number one song is about nothing more than her butt?