The Sexist

Stealth Anal Sex Anthem: Usher’s “Trading Places”


The first time I heard Usher's new gender-bending single, "Trading Places," the D.J. introduced it as a "backseat jam"—a track that's very conducive to fucking. "Trading Places," which follows Usher and his lady-friend as they trade gender roles in the bedroom for an evening, presents gender transgression as a one-off sexual novelty. It's also not very sexy (in one verse, Usher's girlfriend orders Chinese food and demands that Usher not wash his hands before they do it. Thrilling). Needless to say, it wasn't really a jam I was willing to climb into the backseat for—and that was before I knew that the song is also a stealth anal sex anthem!

Let's analyze the male/female dichotomy through the lens of Usher, shall we?

Now we gonna do this thing a lil different tonight
You gonna come over and pick me up in your ride
You gon knock and then you gon wait
Ooo you gon take me on a date
You gonna open my door and I'ma reach over and open yours
Gon pay for dinner take me to see a movie
And whisper in my ear I bet you really wanna do me
Girl now take me home and get up in my Benz
Pour me up a shot and force me to the bed

Things men do: drive cars, take people on dates, open doors, pay for dinner, pay for a movie, voice their desire for sex, pour liquor, force people into bed.

Things women do: ride in cars, go on dates, eat dinner, watch movies, get propositioned, drink liquor, go to bed.

I'm always on the top tonight I'm on the bottom
Cause we trading places
When I cant take no more, tell me you ain't stopping
Cause we trading places
Now put it on me baby till I say "oooo weee"
And tell me to shut up before the neighbors hear me
This is how it feels when you do it like me
We trading places

Things men do: Be on top, not stop, put it on people, tell people to shut up.

Things women do: Be on the bottom, not be able to take things anymore, be loud.

I'll be waking you up to a cup of Folgers
Pancakes and eggs I owe ya breakfast in bed, oh baby
And your orange juice sitting on the coaster
Toast on the side baby strawberry and grape jelly
You finished let me get that drink,
Pull the curtain from the window
Time to get up baby let me make this bed up
Today we going shopping blow 30 on me
Make it 60, spend it like u really love me
Skip dinner and we gon rent a movie
You order chinese food right before u do me
You coming on strong baby let me wash me hands
She said hurry up then get your ass to bed

Things men do: Drink coffee, eat pancakes, drink orange juice, eat toast, get out of bed, spend money, rent movies, order Chinese food, do people, come on strong, tell people to hurry up.

Things women do: Make coffee, make pancakes, pour orange juice, butter toast, make the bed, receive gifts, wash their hands, go to bed.

(yeah) Wash the car
(yeah) I'm gonna walk the dog
(yeah) Take out the trash
(yeah) With nothing but your t-shirt on
(yeah) I'm gonna press your shirt
(yeah) I'm gonna wrinkle mines up
(yeah) In the kitchen girl we crazy we don't give a—
Where you want me?

Things men do: Wash cars.

Things women do: Walk dogs, empty the trash, press shirts, do it wherever they want.

Stay tuned for part two
You been me, I been you
But we gon switch this thing back
I'ma put it on your ass.

Things men do: Force their girlfriends to play out comical male stereotypes while assuming the role of the subservient female. Then, in order to reclaim their masculinity, threaten to insert their dicks into their girlfriends' anuses.

Things women do: Play along with the gender stereotype game at the request of their boyfriends. Prepare hard, phallic objects to force it into their boyfriends' anuses at the height of the gender-bending sex. It's what men do!

  • jules


    Other things men do: write really shitty, unsexy songs.

  • Rae

    I'm not sure he means actually putting it IN her ass in that last excerpt. Putting it ON that ass is just slang for lay it down pretty hard/well. but yes, this song is preposterous.

  • Ron Mwangaguhunga

    The man has issues. His awkwardness in discussing colonics -- a perfectly fine procedure -- in the Dec/Jan 2006 Complez suggests that Usher's playing this outmoded, ridiculous 1950s guy role. Did he have a male role model?:

    "Dec/Jan 2006 Complex: I heard you get a monthly colonic to clean out your colon. Is that true?

    "Usher: Nah man. I mean yeah ... I had a colonic before but not no shit like that. Not no monthly thing. Hell no. Someone who travels alot like I do, while you're on the road, flying over to Africa and eating meats in certain places, you don't always eat the way you should and a lot of waste builds up in your body. That's why I did it."

    "Complex: Doesn't that procedure involve having a tube inserted into your rectum? It all sounds pretty painful, brother.

    "Usher: It aint no shit you're gonna be proud of, I'll tell you that."

  • G Money

    Love love love love this song, and I love that you deconstructed it. There's a couple things that I think were overlooked in your analysis:

    He doesn't say let me wash my hands, he says let me wash my hair - which is a nice touch since he doesn't have that much hair.

    The second thing is when he says "take out the trash with nothing but your t-shirt on" it actually invokes the idea of usher not only changing gender roles behaviorally, but also physically, through cross-dressing.

    One other great thing is that musically it's put together exactly like a prince song, from the syncopated drums, piano work and guitar solo. I like to think of it as a bit of an homage to Prince's controversial sexual identity.

  • Amanda Hess

    G Money. Thank you very much. This song can only get awesomer with time.

  • D

    @Ms. Hess,

    My sarcasm detector is broke... Do you actually believe what you wrote, or are you just THAT stupid?

    Dear God, people these days...

  • Lauren

    I see myself as a true feminist, but let me just say that I disagree with what I just read.. I think this is a very sexy song and one that shouldn't be read so literally

    I think that society still expects men to play this macho role of picking up the woman from her house, paying for her dinner and clothes, and taking control in the bedroom while women are expected to be taken control of.. (I know that I love a guy who takes control)

    However.. this song is a nice twist..
    It shows that (men think) it can be sexy for a woman to show her independence and not wait for her man to do everything..
    While I do understand the implications that exist in this song, I still think that the idea is very sexy and empowering to women..

    This song is the perfect example of how times are changing and a woman's independence is becoming more and more appreciated by both sexes..