I have a confession to make: I love R&B. Like, LOVE. Something about the relaxed beats, the men’s soulful voices, the incredible high notes they can hit… Right now, R&B is my jam.
Mostly I’ve been listening Frank Ocean radio on Pandora, which hits me with a perfect mix of Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and other mellow, sexy songs. One song in particular has got my attention, and that’s Usher’s “Trading Places.”
On its face, the song is a simple reversal of gender roles for sexual reasons. The chorus says, “You get on top, tonight I’m on the bottom, cause we trading places.”
But the verses delve more into the gender roles of the day-to-day lives of heterosexual couples. Usher makes his partner breakfast in bed, cleans up after her, does the laundry, and she puts the moves on him sexually, as well as takes him shopping and buys him what he wants.
What I like about this song, even though on its surface it reinforces stereotypical gender roles, Dad, is that it raises the question of why we need to adhere to them. Usher is obviously happy at the thought of his partner buying him things, and he takes pleasure from pressing her shirts. In an egalitarian relationship, partners do what they can and what they enjoy for the partnership, and these actions don’t have to be rooted in gender roles.
My hope is that couples who hear this song might have the same realization. “Trading places” can be fun, and more importantly, beneficial to the relationship when we allow ourselves to break free from traditional roles and create our own role in the relationship.