It’s hard to choose just five of the most sexist parts to the song with the overall video’s imagery an eerie portrayal of 1950s housewife life where men are the hard-earning brains and muscle, and women the hard-to-impress maids and cooks. But I’ve broken down the sexism to analyze how this song sets the feminist movement years backwards.
"You gotta know how to treat me like a lady / Even when I'm acting crazy / Tell me everything's alright."
The song’s bridge reigns in the stereotype of emotional bitch, assuming that women are crazy because, you know, periods, hormones and all makes us go out of control. Even worse than her perpetuating this negative stereotype is the very idea we need a man to calm us down. As if we don’t have a good handle on our emotions unless a man puts us in our place.
On how to treat a woman…
Trainor’s idea of treating a woman right is buying her flowers, opening doors and ‘putting a ring on it.’ These sexist interpretations put in young girls’ heads that superficial gestures like flowers and chocolates are enough for man to show he cares (and enough to put out as Trainor so poignantly chimes, “Open doors for me and you might get some kisses”). The ignorant reasoning here ignores that it takes more than a box of candy and calling someone beautiful to make a relationship work. Commitment is not based on buying someone a ring (in actuality engagement rings were traditionally symbols of property), but mutual respect, trust and love — something that goes amiss with Trainor.
“'Cause if you'll treat me right
I'll be the perfect wife
Buy-buying what you need”
Really? The perfect wife is boiled down to serving your husband? I can literally see waves of progress being erased with Trainor’s lyrics.
“Even if I was wrong
You know I'm never wrong
Why, why disagree?”
Again, Trainor is not one to give relationship advice. The heteronormative assumption (and tired joke) that women are right and men are wrong negates the equal respect and understanding necessary to have a successful relationship. Women and men are allowed to voice their opinions and disagree with each other! Silently complying does not establish effective communication — a primary component in any healthy relationship.
Strict gender roles
Trainor scrubbing the floors, baking pies and being seemingly unsatisfied when her date can’t hit the bell on a carnival’s strength tester demonstrates the caveman notion that men must be strong and women are meant to be in the kitchen. These gender roles defining what it means to be a woman and a man places masculinity and femininity into rigid categories our society refuses to break away from. We have to acknowledge that a man wearing makeup or a woman with a buff body does not mean either is less of their identity. Gender goes beyond those traditional norms.
Read more: These Celebrities Got Feminism Right