Updated: Sep 13, 2020
By Haylee Thorson
Female pleasure has a way of making people uncomfortable. From the moment girls become teenagers, they’re immediately told what is and isn’t okay. It’s okay to date, but it’s not okay to have casual hookups. It’s okay to kiss, but it’s not okay to talk about it. It’s okay to have a relationship, but it’s not okay to have sex. Women are constantly shamed for everything they do. Whether it’s the way they dress, the way they talk, or the way they act—if it doesn’t align with what the societal expectation of what a woman should be, it’s considered taboo. With that in mind, you can only imagine the response that Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s latest single “WAP” garnered. A rather explicit song about female pleasure at its core, people were absolutely losing their minds over the raunchy lyrics and the fact that they are coming from the mouths of women.
But the funny thing is, songs about sex aren’t new.
For years, male rappers have been objectifying women with their own lyrics and no one has ever batted an eye. And while the content in “WAP” is provocative, it is nothing compared to the countless other songs released by some of the most notable men in the rap industry. Take Dr. Dre’s 1992 hit song “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” for example. Despite the demeaning title and vulgar lyrics, it never came close to receiving the same level of hatred that “WAP” is experiencing in 2020. And that’s not even the worst one. “U.O.E.N.O.” by Rocko featuring Rick Ross and Future manages to surpass Dre’s demoralizing lyrics by lightheartedly rapping about date rape. “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home and enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.” And people think Cardi and Megan’s song is appalling? Male rappers have come to rely so heavily on the sexualization of women in their songs that no one is even shocked when they hear lyrics like that anymore. But heaven forbid female rappers write songs about their own sexual wants and desires—that’s a right reserved specifically for men!
Men always say they want a strong woman. But I don’t think that’s true. Their egos are far too fragile to handle a woman who is smarter than them, stronger than them, wealthier than them, etc. The rampant misogyny in our country constantly tries to tear down any woman who is her unapologetic self. Whether it’s an outspoken female artist, celebrity or politician, it seems like a man always has something to say about the way she carries herself. “Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion are what happens when children are raised without God and without a strong father figure,” said Republican politician, James P. Bradley. Comments like this make it very clear that a lot of men think it’s their place to ridicule the actions of women. But let’s get one thing straight. It will never be a man’s place to tell a woman what she can and can’t do—especially when it comes to her own body.
And it’s not just men. A huge amount of the hatred towards “WAP” is coming from the mouths of women themselves. Conservative politician DeAnna Lorraine even went as far as to say, “Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion just set the entire female gender back by 100 years with their disgusting & vile ‘WAP’ song” when the single dropped. Sure, because the patriarchal oppression of women is so much better than the sheer thought of them being sexually liberated, DeAnna. It’s one thing for men to tear women down for being “promiscuous,” because it (unfortunately) happens all the time. But when other women come after their own, it’s absolutely infuriating. It doesn’t matter where you stand on the political spectrum; if you’re a woman, you know what it feels like to be belittled by men. And the fact that you would take their side on matters pertaining to your own sexual identity and freedom is disgraceful.
Here’s the thing that really bothers me. Girls and women are sexualized constantly. It’s the reason why young girls can’t wear tank tops to school. It’s the reason why nearly one in five women are raped at some point in their lives. It’s the reason why girls are told they were “asking for it” if they were wearing a short skirt. Women are viewed as nothing but objects and it’s blatantly obvious in films, music, school, television, work, you name it. And this is never seen as an issue until a woman decides that she wants to sexualize herself before a man decides to. Then men will get upset and be like, “Oh, you want to sexualize yourself? That’s our job. How dare you take that right away from us!” When a woman chooses to take back that power, it’s suddenly a problem.
The fact that so many women are finally feeling confident enough to express themselves freely is inspiring. While there was a lot of backlash towards Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s song this month, the positive response truly outweighs the negative. “WAP” is currently number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 and has garnered over 93 million streams in the U.S. since it was released. Not only that, but the single inspired it’s very own TikTok dance challenge. Women around the world are paying homage to this hot girl anthem by performing incredibly difficult, yet powerful choreography. Even though this song isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it’s opening up the conversation about female sexuality in ways never before seen. “WAP” lets women know that it’s okay to ask for what we want. That it’s normal to feel proud of our bodies and the things we use them for. That it’s perfectly fine to feel sexually empowered despite what we’ve been told all of these years. This song is so much more than risqué lyrics and a catchy tune. It’s a reminder that women have all the power in the world—all they need to do is recognize it.
Haylee Thorson is an editorial writer who specializes in beauty, culture, and travel. Follow her on Instagram.