Sunday, March 22, 2015

Meghan Trainor’s Contradictory Messages

Meghan Trainor’s recent single “Dear Future Husband” has sparked a minor outbreak across the internet; people are ranting about the fact that the song (and the song’s music video) are deeply sexist. The song has a few lines that made me raise my eyebrows, but there was also some pro-feminist language in there. To give an example of the former, here is a short clip of Trainor in her new music video:

In case you couldn't catch the lyrics, she is singing "cause if you treat me right, I’ll be the perfect wife, buyin’ groceries, buy, buy what you need” while cleaning the kitchen floor. Trainor is essentially giving us a definition of the “perfect wife,” and in 6 seconds has managed to reduce women down to the person who does the shopping and the cleaning in the house. Her definition of a perfect wife seems to be all about pleasing her husband. The music video seems to be reminiscent of the 1950’s, with the costumes and the set, but the actual lyrics sound about as sexist as many people were in those days. The story her song is laying out is heteronormative and only reinforces gender roles. However, the line directly after this one was one that was pretty clearly trying to break gender stereotypes…

Trainor uses the phrase “9 to 5” and claims that both she and her husband will be in the workforce, and that he shouldn’t expect her to be cooking for him. This showed more empowerment of women, that the perfect wife is not defined by whether or not she’s at home baking pies all day. But then why did she just give us this basically opposite idea 1 second before, with her very retro definition of what it means to be the perfect wife?

This isn't the first time it's been unclear to me whether Trainor is trying to promote feminism or not. In her song "All About That Bass," she offered even more contradictory lines, saying "don't worry about your size" and "every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top" but then proceeds to talk about "skinny bitches." So is the song really about accepting yourself and loving your body? Or is she really just putting down all body types in her attempt to celebrate one? If Trainor is aiming to empower women, she might need to take a better look at her lyric choices.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Shocking SAE Chant

While watching a Daily Show clip regarding the recent SAE University of Oklahoma fraternity chant scandal, I was in awe when I saw some of the media's reactions. A video was recently leaked of a chant that SAE fraternity members at University of Oklahoma were singing. The chant describes their rush policy, and goes, "You can hang them from a tree, but they will never sign with me. There will never be a n***** SAE."

The chant was so shocking to me; it brings into question just how far we really have come from the racism that existed about 100 years ago. The chanters refer to the atrocious, primitive times of racial terror lynchings that went on, saying you "can hang them from a tree." I found this word "can" to be a particularly unpleasant. The chant is implying that you (as a white male SAE member) are not only capable, but are being permitted to hang a black person. This chant is unbelievably backwards.

While some media coverage has called the video "racist" and "disgusting," there are a lot of commenters who think otherwise. USA Today broadcasters blamed the situation on "hip-hop," since the listeners hear this word over and over, will obviously start repeating it. Not true. This is one of the most naive and ignorant conclusions to draw, that racism today is a product of the music we listen to... Here's a clip of John Stewart's reaction to this.

There is just no excuse for the racism that is going on here. When the leader of the chant finally apologized for the incident, he said that "alcohol" had something to do with his decision-making that night, which I still feel is an entirely unreasonable excuse. The chant wasn't made up on the spot. So whether or not alcohol was hindering the chanter's judgement, these racist words existed before the incident, but this was the first time it was brought to the public's attention.

This whole situation is also relating to what we've been talking about regarding who is "allowed" to say the "N" word, and I think it was certainly inappropriate in this case because not only are the chanters saying this word, but the actual intent and message they're getting across is that they will never allow black people to join SAE, and that they condone the atrocities that occurred during the racial terror lynchings. And the media making excuses for this indisputable racism is only furthering the problem. This is the kind of backwards thinking that is pushing America in the opposite direction it needs to be going.