The taboo yet universally practiced act of pleasure which is essential to the preservation of our species has yet again been glorified through art – and has yet again come under fire for it. Rappers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion in their newly released single “WAP” (a.k.a. “Wet-Ass Pussy”) tackle the subject of sex and female pleasure head-on in a way which has seldom been done before.
At face value, the song has been the subject of controversy due to its use of explicit and overtly sexual language. However, “WAP” is more than just a song about sex. It carries important underlying messages and principals that likely make critics more uncomfortable than the vulgarity of it. It challenges traditional gender dynamics as it pertains to sex, destigmatizes female (especially black female) pleasure, and empowers female artists to exercise the same creative freedoms that male artists do. It can be argued that those who disapprove of the song also may stand in opposition to female sexual agency and artistic license.
The song in its totality plays out a scenario where two women plainly communicate what they want in the bedroom, which for Cardi and Megan, ranges anywhere from roleplay to BDSM. They discuss all the creative ways a man can bring a woman to climax, a refreshing break from the traditional narrative that women must prioritize male pleasure. It illustrates an exciting, reciprocal, and consensual relationship that leaves both parties feeling satisfied – an important takeaway for young women entering intimate partnerships.
It also works to normalize contribution by female artists to the broader musical discourse on sex. Everyday male rappers get away with releasing blatantly profane and misogynistic songs to the general public. Men will be men, one might say, or it’s excused because their songs are “catchy”. When women strong language to demonstrate their feelings, however, their character is attacked. Such is the case for Cardi and Megan, who have been called filthy, disgusting, and vile for daring to speak openly about their wants and desires, freedom that men get to enjoy every day without censure.
The argument that sex shouldn’t be talked about, period, is also misguided. An open conversation about healthy sexual practices is important to demonstrate what is acceptable, and what isn’t. Music is a viable way to do this. I, for one, learned a lot about relationships growing up through music that I would never have come by through school or church alone. Sex is something that was just never discussed unless to say that it was bad and wrong. Many states don’t require sex education, which leaves many to simply figure it out for themselves. If sex in music and the arts is an outlawed topic, many may never learn what a positive, realistic, and fulfilling intimate relationship is supposed to look like.
Overall, “WAP” is a groundbreaking celebration of female desire that is essential to the continuation of positive discourse about sex. Normalization of these kinds of conversations can lead to a much-needed change in the way we approach the topic of sex in our schools and everyday lives, making it safer and more enjoyable for us all.