This song is radical for something that came out of the Christian music scene in the mid ’90s. Hell, it’s still radical. I had never heard a Christian artist (and scarcely any Christians at all) question the expectation that the wife’s role was to serve the household. I’d never heard anyone point out the exploitation of that paradigm (tend the tables for free and it’s okay).
No one in my rural Kentucky, Southern Baptist upbringing questioned this paradigm. I remember when I was young, my mom taught me how to skin rabbits and cook them (my dad was a hunter). I asked why I had to know how to skin rabbits and she told me that someday I would have a husband and I would have to do these things for him (plot twist: I didn’t get a husband and have lived a life free of rabbit skinning). She didn’t even question it and she was a woman living in this paradigm and did not question it when she passed those expectations onto me.
But this Christian boy from California questioned it and that confirmed my suspicions that I was right to question it too. What my mom thought was a teenage rebellious streak in her daughter that would eventually even out when I found a man and had kids has become a way of being. I broom the rats out for no man; they can deal with their own rats as I deal with my own.
The music video captures this ’50s era ideal home setting with the wife bustling around the kitchen while the husband sits in quiet expectation to be served. The video begins with a closeup shot of a hand towel that says “Ever True”. But are they true to each other?
True to its ’50’s era imagery, the video is impressive with its Freudian snapshots. We see the wife chopping unwashed, unpeeled carrots. The wife replaces the burnout light bulb and restores the light even though the husband is sitting underneath it and could have done it. She aggressively shucks corn and breaks eggs as the husband watches home videos of children. There is already an undercurrent of violence even while the perfect household imagery persists. The wife shaves the husband in an act that is both intimate and potentially dangerous; what if the razor cuts too deep?
Then a rat shows up walking across the couch. She has not broomed the rats out for the man as the lyrics command her. “Broom the rats out” is such a strange lyric. It reminds me of the Robert Johnson line “I believe I’ll dust my broom” which was code for leaving an oppressive situation. Maybe instead of brooming the rats out, she will be dusting her broom.
We see images of her in a black dress with Medusa-like hair. Shots of her raging in her black dress are interspersed with shots of her in the kitchen with her Donna Reed attire. The husband sits alone watching a cartoons with a character wearing a hat that at first looks like a flaccid penis that suddenly becomes erect (ok dude, I get that this is your kink already….).
Is she dressed in black because she is bringing death like the Reaper? Perhaps it is the death of the illusion of the perfect, stereotypical home. The husband returns to the table where she, wearing her black dress now, is serving the meal she has prepared. Even the food is Freudian. We have a circle of deviled eggs, meat topped with pineapple rings with a side of short, stubby corn on the cob. You think she’s trying to tell him something about her unfulfillment? I mean, she did have to change her own light bulb after all.
She wraps the food and the husband up in that red Saran Wrap that was such a thing back in the mid ’90s. The rats come out to nibble at the food and the man. The wife’s not brooming the rats out anymore. She’s dusting her broom. She leaves the husband to his fate with his rats as she leaves alone in car in the middle of the night. If they couldn’t be ever true to each other, she can at least be ever true to herself.