The Feminist Round Up
This last week or so has brought about both highs and lows for feminism. With popular music icons promoting gender stereotypes through film clips, to women taking a stance that clothing should not be a characteristic to be judged.
It’s not hard to tell that the meaning Meghan Trainor’s Dear Future Husband is well intentioned. Without thinking about the lyrics too hard, it’s about a woman who refuses to settle for someone who treats her any less than she deserves. It’s about the excitement and prospect of spending the rest of your life married to your equal.
Trainor includes lyrics like, “I’ll be sleeping on the left side of the bed / Open the doors for me and you might get some, kisses.” I see nothing wrong with this. Chivalry isn’t gendered in my mind – and just because someone is chivalrous towards you, does not mean they believe you are incapable because you are a girl.
If you do find that worrying, however, Meghan Trainor does counter it with lyrics like, “You got that nine to five, but baby so do I / So don’t be thinking I’ll be home and baking apple pies.” She has a job – she is a very capable and successful woman in her field. That has to balance it out
There is nothing wrong with the intentioned message in the slightest. I have stayed up many a night texting my friend about what we imagine our ideal partner to be like, what kind of wedding we’ll have. This is not the problem.
It’s the music video that is the problem – for both men and women.
It’s a flashback straight to the 1960’s. Trainor lives in a white picket fence home, dancing around doing homely duties. She mostly fails at them. This could be interpreted, as either women are so hopeless that they can’t even do the jobs they’re “supposed” to do, or mocking women that do these things and do them well. Either way, it’s insulting. It promotes gender stereotypes to the casual viewer, and even more so teaches that women are to be objectified as they do house keeping. Trainor is rolling around in water scrubbing the floor, for crying out loud!
Back to the point, Trainor completes these duties while she is taken on a series of dates by different men, each of them failing to meet her standard. This, again, is okay. Dating around so you can find someone that you’re compatible with is completely natural and people who question this, or even worse call you a harlot because of this, aren’t worth your time.
No, it’s the reasons she breaks up with them that are worrying. One candidate takes her to a fair, and when his attempt on the strength tester game goes dismally, she walks away. This here is the problem for men. Physical strength should not be a deal breaker in a relationship. I mean, for it to be that way just promotes the masculine stereotype that man can’t be weak. This is damaging for both men and women.
If men don’t think they can be “weak” then they begin to associate femininity as weakness, which just promotes negative female stereotypes. It’s an ongoing circle that will spiral out of control, especially if popular musicians don’t take a step back and think about the message that they are conveying.
On a more triumphant note, Theresa Wkokka, Frida Regeheim and the Miami Ad School Hamburg have released a campaign titled “Don’t Measure a Woman’s Worth by her Clothes.”
The campaign isn’t an original idea (that was Pamona Lake in 2013) but takes the concept and promotes it to a larger scale.
It must be noted that whilst it does use the logo of “Terre Des Femme”, a Swiss human rights group, they are in no way affiliated with the campaign. Terre Des Femme did release a statement in regards to the images however, saying:
‘Don’t Measure A Woman’s Worth By Her Clothes’ is a campaign well done, and in principle we support the message the campaign is spreading: No matter what a woman is wearing, she will be judged by it.”
I believe the idea behind the campaign is brilliant, I have lost track of the times I have gone out with my friends and asked the question, “Do I look skanky in this?” This was because I was worried what other people would think when they saw me, how people would react and how I’d get treated.
There is the flip side of it as well. If I’m bundled up in winter with a high neckline, long pants and layers upon layers I say, “I feel like a nun.”
I just can’t win – and isn’t terrible that I think of these things myself? It isn’t someone on the street saying it to me, it’s things that have been said about women that dress a certain way and these ideas have stayed in my head.
I think that illustrates just how deeply these ideals are ingrained within our society – that a woman has to dress just right to be taken seriously. That is the triumph of the video, which is that these everyday problems are finally being called out for what they are.
Maybe, soon, women will be able to dress how they want without being called a lady or a tramp. The Madonna/Whore dichotomy will fade and women won’t be called names for how they dress.
The triumph is a small one, but small victories put together is what wins the feminist battle.