Critics have dubbed Meghan Trainor’s new song “Dear Future Husband” the worst song of 2015 and—while I fault no one for rocking out to this addictive tune—I completely agree. Musical Pringles it may be, but the message Trainor’s song sends about what makes a man husband material is straight-up poison.
OK, I'll give Trainor the benefit of the doubt. She was likely aiming forsatire or else intended to challenge women to set a higher bar for the men who woo them. Sure, the more commitment-focused lyrics are a refreshing break from the “just one night” anthems we are accustomed to. But, all that said, the stipulations Trainor lays out for a future husband leave me wondering if she prefer a really obedient dog instead.
Not all of Trainor’s lyrics are toxic—for instance, finding a man who respects the fact that you have a job and won’t be able to cook dinner every night is all well and good. But the rest is pretty unsound relationship advice if you ask me.
Dear future husband,
Make time for me
Don't leave me lonely
And know we'll never see your family more than mine.
This one-sided arrangement doesn’t sound like the kind of agreement any person would want to enter into, but it gets worse.
After every fight
And maybe then I'll let you try and rock my body right.
You know I'm never wrong.
Why, why disagree?
These are the most egregious verses; the rest follows along a similar strain. Buy us rings, flatter us, and cower before us, and everything will be all right. Is this really the kind of relationship that will make us happy?
Unfortunately, where Trainor succeeded in T-Swift pop beat addiction, she failed in originality. Trainor is not the first female singer to idealize the idea of a groveling and a servile life partner. Back in 1995, Shania Twain’s hit song “Any Man of Mine” encouraged women to hold out for a man who is gaga for her even when she's inconsiderately late for a date, can’t commit to a “yes” or “no,” ornery, and plays mind games. Tainor’s “Dear Future Husband” reminds me how, 20 years later, women are still looking. Shocker.
This song would be more amusing than obnoxious to me were it not for the reality that many women really do think of their future husbands this way. We write men off for their little—and sometimes big—blunders everyday. Maybe he was late for your first date or said the wrong thing. Maybe he texted instead of called or maybe he wasn’t even that crazy about you right away? Yet, truthfully, women who hold men to the same standards as Shania Twain and Meghan Trainor are only setting themselves up for romantic dissatisfaction. Having high standards shouldn't be about holding out for a man who props us up in an ivory tower. High standards means desiring a man who actually tries to love you every day—that means calling you out when you need it and telling you how beautiful you are all the same. A man who is content to appease you so he can "rock your body right"—as Trainor puts it—is not man enough to really love you.
The idea that men should idolize women is a toxic one for both sexes. Instead of understanding our relationship with the opposite sex as a partnership, men and women can begin to see one another as pawns to be manipulated for our own self-serving purposes. There is no growth without being called to be something better and no passion without being loved just as you are, flawed and imperfect—and that is what can be found in the complementary nature of a loving husband. Nothing makes us aware of our flaws and vulnerabilities like a healthy, loving relationship. Women should desire men who challenge us and who seek to be challenged in return, this way we can grow closer to one another and—in partnership—closer to the people we want to be.
At the end of the day, I’m not advocating one more chance for the guy who can’t get it right (or messed up big one time). But I do think women should do a bit of soul-searching and make sure that what we expect from men is really what we want, and at the very least, that we have the same high standards for ourselves as we do for our future husbands.