Pop music today panders to the Abusive Husband stereotype

I’ve been thinking about this issue for quite some time now. Well over a year, in fact. It seems to me like popular songs that stick around on the radio often times are sung by young adult men, from the perspective of an abusive husband.

Case and point: Shawn Mendes – Stiches. Here’s part of the chorus

I’m tripping over myself
I’m aching begging you to come help
And now that I’m without your kisses
I’ll be needing stitches

The only way this makes logical sense to me is if he’s telling his significant other to take him back, or he’s going to hurt himself. “Baby, please come back. If you leave now, I think I’m going to cut my wrists. I’m serious this time!” Using suicide as a emotional blackmail is a common trait among abusive spouses.

Another case: Justin Bieber – Love Yourself

‘Cause if you like the way you look that much
Oh, baby, you should go and love yourself
And if you think that I’m still holdin’ on to somethin’
You should go and love yourself

Here he’s telling his girlfriend to not try to look nice, while saying he doesn’t care about her at all. Love in this case is obviously not referring to the emotion, but rather the physical act, a PG way of sneaking in an F bomb. “Why are you putting on makeup? And is that ‘OUR’ dress? Who are you seeing? Nobody? Well, f**** you. F*** right off!” Constant and repeated verbal abuse, as well as a commanding attitude are traits commonly found in abusive spouses.

Bieber goes on to show his disregard for women’s emotions in another song: Sorry

You gotta go and get angry at all of my honesty
You know I try but I don’t do too well with apologies
I hope I don’t run out of time, could someone call a referee?
Cause I just need one more shot at forgiveness

First line attacks her for his own mistakes, and it is obvious by context that we’re talking way more than one mistake here. The apology feels empty, when we consider other passages in the song, for example:

Yeah, is it too late now to say sorry?
Cause I’m missing more than just your body

Probably meant to be overly generic to match every girl listening, but with those first few lines of the song it feels more like someone who is attached to a girl just for her appearance, but can’t even bother to come up with any personality traits he likes about her. Even more so when you consider that “sorry” and “body” doesn’t even rhyme, and the previous song where he obviously cared a lot about how his significant other looks.

Here we see someone who repeatedly hurts their significant other and then tries to apologize for it when she’s about to leave. “Please baby, don’t leave. You know I get angry when you talk back to me.” Another tell-tale sign of abusive spouses.


These songs are still playing on the radio, well after other hits like All About That Base or Work has stopped playing. The songs that last the longest in the 2010’s seem to be those sung from the perspective of an abusive husband, and this is not just something kids listen to. Many, many adults have encouraged the songs, even going so far as to say “Justin Bieber redeemed himself” with the two songs mentioned. If this is the kind of message people like listening to and identifies themselves with, what does that teach the young people around us? Is this really what we want to teach our children?


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