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Yes! Meghan Trainor’s ‘No’ is an anthem for all women, a lesson for all men

By Jeneé Osterheldt • Mar 25, 2016 at 5:30 PM

Meghan Trainor didn’t just drop a video Monday morning. She made a statement about the power of “No.”

Her new single, a girl-centric anthem about refusing a guy’s advances, is catchy cotton-candy-sweet pop music, but it’s not fluff. It sticks to your ribs (and gets stuck in your head) with good reason. Meghan is normalizing a woman’s right to say no. And she’s doing it in a sexy way.

You can watch it in the video player below. 

The video has throwback ’90s vibes. Meghan is giving all kinds of Britney Spears hair-flips and Beyoncé dance attempts. Listen, the song is better than the video. But the sexiness of it all makes the message that much stronger. Too often men think a woman’s clothes or demeanor mean that she is asking for it, that they are entitled to her body.

We’re used to seeing Meghan as cheeky and cute (I mean, she sang the “Peanuts” anthem). In this video she rocks fishnets and a bustier, singing, “My name is no/ My sign is no/ My number is no/ You need to let it go/ … Nah to the ah to the no, no, no.” Pop poetry. And then: “I’m feeling untouchable.”

It reminds me of the many SlutWalks formed in response to a Canadian cop saying, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Recently, model Amber Rose, who hosted her own walk in Los Angeles last fall, was on “It’s Not You, It’s Men,” where hosts Tyrese and Rev Run implied the same thing. Yep, on Oprah’s OWN channel two men told her, “Dress how you want to be addressed.”

Amber made it clear: It doesn’t matter what she is wearing, it doesn’t matter if she’s naked and the condoms are out. Consent is everything. No means no.

Men have gone unchecked too long, their egos fed on the belief that women should submit to them. It’s this kind of thinking that led to the January killing of 29-year-old Janese Talton Jackson. The Pennsylvania woman was shot to death in a Pittsburgh street for refusing the advances of a man at a bar. Police say 41-year-old Charles McKinney tried to get with her, she said no, and he then followed her outside and shot her in the chest.

It’s not an isolated incident. Mary Spears, 27, died for not giving a man her phone number in a Detroit club two years ago. And 1 out of every 6 American women has survived an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Not only do women have to be encouraged to say no, men have to be taught to respect it. Saying no should not endanger our lives.

Beyond the issue of consent and sexual harassment, women aren’t encouraged to say no professionally or in their families and friend circles, either. We are paid less than men and expected to do just as much or more. Why? Because women are supposed to be polite. Women are supposed to be natural nurturers, the caregivers. And women have been made to believe they have to say yes to be liked.

In TV guru Shonda Rhimes’ book, “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person,” there is a chapter titled “Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.”

“Everybody knows how difficult it is to say no,” she writes. “It’s one of the reasons why people seem so comfortable asking you for favors they have no business asking you for. They know how hard it is to say no.”

She goes on to talk about the importance of invoking your rights to refuse and doing so without the need to explain yourself. “No is a complete sentence,” a friend told her. More importantly, no is not a bad word. Stop guilting yourself for saying it.

It’s time we give ourselves permission to say it, to write it, to sing it loud like Meghan Trainor: Nah to the ah to the, no, no, no.

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