Let’s get off … to some recent news.
Earlier this month, Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B released their first song together, “WAP.” And dear reader, “WAP” stands for “wet ass pussy.”
I assumed everyone would be on board with “WAP” — lyrically, physically, emotionally, spiritually — but not everyone has felt the same. The song catalyzed hysteria among conservative commentators and politicians, incensed at the song’s unapologetic female sexuality. Lines from the song demand a male lover to “get on his knees” and “swipe his nose like a credit card,” well, you know where.
Conservative commentator and not-at-all-a-doctor Ben Shapiro labeled a wet ass pussy the sign of an illness, while congressional candidate James Bradley seethed on Twitter after “accidentally” hearing “WAP.”
While I’m not sure “Dr. Shapiro” could diagnose whatever disease he associates with a “wet ass pussy” (considering he’s likely never seen one), I find his particular outrage at what he called a “p-word” ironic, considering his support for a president who once boasted about grabbing them as he pleased. And Mr. Bradley, did you really hear “WAP” accidentally, or did you just have to justify your search history again?
All jokes aside, while these reactions are somewhat laughable, I find comments from people such as Shapiro and Bradley actually quite disturbing. In fact, I find much of the outrage at “WAP” to be misogyny disguised as morality.
Sexualizing womxn only becomes a transgression, I suppose, when we reclaim that sexualization for ourselves. Would there be the same moral outrage from these men if, say, another tape of Donald Trump talking about pussies surfaced? Or is there a different set of rules for men — particularly white men?
I’d venture to say yes. The entertainment industry — and our culture — may be moving toward greater inclusivity, but it’s still deeply racist. We can’t forget that dismissing the impact of “WAP” also constitutes a dismissal of two talented and successful Black female artists.
Outrage over “WAP” demonstrates precisely why it’s so important as a song — it disrupts harmful norms that often exclude womxn from our own sexuality, unless it’s in the context of someone else’s consumption.
Hearing a song that directly links female arousal with a sexual encounter is empowering because it encourages womxn to prioritize their arousal in their sexual encounters. And that arousal is about more than just its physicality. It’s about the authority that comes with asserting autonomy over our bodies in the bedroom and beyond.
For many of us, myself included, claiming our sexuality is vital in reclaiming the parts of ourselves we often lose — the power, disruptiveness and indomitability that are labeled “bossy,” “intense” or any other casually misogynistic term that’s beaten into us in middle school locker rooms and at lunch tables, or even earlier, in the days when we first begin to comport ourselves.
That’s why I think a song such as “WAP” is especially important for young womxn to hear: It frames their arousal as non-negotiable as they begin their sexual journey. More than that, it implies that sex should be enjoyable for womxn too (shocker!).
Unfortunately, I did not know that when I began having sex myself. But if I had known, it probably would’ve saved me from some encounters that were, in polite terms, less than desirable.
Sex is just a fact of life, and young womxn should be empowered in those experiences from the very beginning. Embracing — and enjoying — our sexuality shouldn’t be a revolutionary act.
And that’s why “WAP” means so much to me.
“WAP” gives me words. In fact, I believe it gives all womxn the words to speak about their arousal in their own terms. It’s a language we aren’t taught — and when we finally come into our sexuality, the words we do have are so rusted and coated in a thick layer of shame that they can’t even come out, much less make sense. And soon enough, we are lost in translation with our own bodies.
While “WAP” is a step forward, it’s not a cure-all. We didn’t construct the patriarchy and we aren’t responsible for fixing it. “WAP” is not a perfect salve for the wounds each and every womxn lives with simply for being a womxn, but I do know that for three minutes and eight seconds, it gives us a chance to bask in our power. At the very least, it is a really good song.
But as I near the end of this column, I’m nervous. I find myself shrinking. I’m worried I’ve offended you. I didn’t want to offend you; I didn’t want to be suggestive. I didn’t want to come off as “wrong.” I know if someone misperceives this piece of work, they might call me a whore or promiscuous or immoral or maybe some other worse words, too.
But I know I’m not any of those words.
I know who I am, why “WAP” is important and why I wrote this — and even as I feel myself shrinking from these words, I’m reminded why I needed to write them in the first place.
So if you are offended, reader, rest assured: I really don’t care at all.