WAP, which stands for wet-ass-pussy, debuted at #1 in US iTunes sales and currently has over 85 million views on YouTube. The song was also #1 on Spotify and Apple Music charts, with over 2 million streams on Spotify on the first day.
Upon its initial release, WAP faced harsh criticism for its explicit language and visualization. Conservative political commentator, Ben Shapiro mocked the feminist praise for the song while also seemingly implying that vaginal lubrication is a medical problem, which is just not true at all. James Bradley, a Republican congressional candidate, commented on the song saying it made him want to “pour holy water in his ears.”
However, WAP is actually an empowering and important song in today’s time. It’s an incredible piece and contrary to Bradley and Shapiro, I’m glad to have heard and seen it. It’s a rare demonstration of sex-positivity through the feminine lens.
Cardi B has always been open about sexuality, often being vocal about her past as a stripper, but WAP takes sex-positivity to new heights.
For one, the explicit lyrics that have stirred so much controversy are entirely centered on female pleasure and desire. Rather than having women at the whim of male sexual desire, the lyrics focus on the sexual needs and wants of women.
These two powerful rappers aren’t ashamed to admit what they need: “Look, I need a hard hitter, need a deep stroker”.
Not only do the lyrics convey an important theme, but the music video reflects the same values. The music video for WAP is visually stunning for several reasons and empowering in one major way. Focused entirely on women, the video clearly centers women as autonomous in their own sexual narratives. Aside from Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, the video also features cameos from Normani, Kylie Jenner, Rosalía, Rubi Rose, Mulatto, and Sukihana, all of whom are powerful women in their own right.
Like it or not, WAP is powerful and liberating for many women.
Even the lyrics, “I don’t cook, I don’t clean but lemme tell you I got this ring,” are out there stating that the preconceived notions about a woman’s role in the house are here to be broken.
For the exact reason that WAP is so strongly condemned is why it’s so important. It’s not just a great piece of music, it’s an urgently needed one. Sure it may not be the most family-friendly music video in the world, but that doesn’t mean that we should be writing it off. Women have spent too long hiding their sexual desires, but they have them too – and it’s time to start talking (rapping) about it.
When asked about the criticism towards the song, Cardi B responded that she didn’t expect the backlash and didn’t even think the song was that vulgar. It’s especially interesting that people seem so outraged at WAP when male artists rarely face the same intense scrutiny for the same topics. There’s no shortage of songs, of all genres, that both subtly and explicitly discuss sex. The song and the entire production is candid, fierce and it is SLAYING!
The music industry, and media platforms at large, have long gotten away with the hyper-sexualization of women, especially Black women. But when Black women are owning their sexuality, everyone’s upset about it? I think the double standard is embarrassingly clear.
Maybe instead of being scandalized, we should consider why we’re so torn about listening to lyrics that center female pleasure and so openly embrace sexuality. We live in a world where we’re so afraid to open up about sexuality, especially female sexuality, that when we do see it on display, our instinct is outrage or disgust.
Our discomfort with songs like WAP proves only one thing – we need more music like it. Especially from marginalized groups who have long been outsiders to their own sexual narrative.
We’re lucky to have artists like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion who are championing sex-positivity. Unfortunately, not everyone understands that yet, and that is the true tragedy of WAP.
As for the rest of us, we’re here for it. We honor these absolute queens. And we’ll be jamming to WAP, no questions asked.