Sexism In Pastel Shades – Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ – Susannah Dickey

By Susannah Dickey, Contributor

It has been just over a year since UK universities tripped over themselves to see who could be first to ban ‘Blurred Lines’ from playing on campuses. Of course, the institutions that took a little longer to follow suit did so with rapidly depleting supplies of integrity, but eventually the song became a bass-heavy figurehead for everything wrong with society.

The underlying message of the song was undoubtedly reprehensible, but with an accompanying video that featured three idiots wielding wide-eyed taxidermy at some derisive-looking women, it was hard to take the malevolent undercurrents entirely seriously.

Fast forward to November 2014, on a night out in The Bot. Sticky limbs are flailing, familiar faces are lost in an infinite sea of checked shirts, and somebody is subtly trying to swallow down a mouthful of tequila-flavoured bile. On the dance floor, people are tunelessly hollering lyrics: ‘Boys like a little more booty to hold at night!”.

It’s ‘All About That Bass’, an offering by a candy-floss haired Meghan Trainor, who proves that a repetitive hook, a voice that sounds like an overtly-sexualised toddler and some outdated opinions about femininity are all you need to secure a number one single. However, this is a song that ought to be tarred with the same brush as that which smeared scandal all over the bewildered Robin Thicke, in that it promotes some messages that are, for want of a better word, dodgy.

The lyrics supposedly promote body-confidence, in the form of easily understood, clichéd sound bites. It’s pretty clear that Meghan “ain’t no size two”, but she can “shake it, shake it” (twice, for emphasis) like she’s supposed to do. The lyrics raise three issues for the discerning listener: One, should we draw our own self-worth through the diminishing of other, equally valid body shapes? Two, is our physical attractiveness really so tenuous a concept as to depend solely on whether we can appeal to the opposite gender? And finally, why does nobody write songs about learning to play the violin, or being praised by the dentist for diligent flossing habits?

The last ten years have seen a snowballing of feminist ideas among young people (I blame hashtags), and it seems irritating that this is all a twenty-year old woman can think to write about.

What makes a successful song these days rarely comes down to insights contained within the lyrics, but it really ought to be about more than recycled 20th century ideas about self-worth. Women in the music industry should be striving to create something that doesn’t quite so blatantly reduce the gender to sex organs encased in pink, fleshy mounds.

Meghan Trainor herself, when asked if she considered herself a feminist, said no, and proceeded to lisp and giggle her way through the following statement: “I don’t know, man! I just wrote a fun song about loving your booty and loving your body! I never had a problem getting boys.” I bet Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidency manifesto carried a similar message.

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