This is what happens when women flaunt their sexuality for no one’s pleasure but their own.
The internet has been going off since the premiere of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP.”
In case you weren’t sure, that stands for “Wet-Ass P*ssy.”
The two rappers are no strangers to the sexually explicit, and their fans love them for it. They disappointed no one with this latest video, where they’re unapologetic in their positions (no pun intended) on money, pleasure, and sex.
Some are critical of “WAP” as nothing more than yet another hedonistic, over-the-top music video that sexualizes women of color (WOC). That’s not the case.
It has a completely different purpose.
While “WAP” does contain many of the ingredients of the classic booty-popping dance jam, it does something else that very few videos have ever done.
It shows what happens when women flaunt their sexuality for no one’s pleasure but their own.
“WAP” doesn’t front. It’s all about heterosexual sex and having fun while doing it. It seems safe to assume that Cardi and Megan had a blast while making this video too.
Women of color are often sexualized from a male perspective in music videos, but “WAP” does things differently.
First off, Cardi B and Megan are in the driver’s seat.
They’re at the center of their own extravagant sex mansion, shown both by the bold nude statues of the rappers that welcome the viewer inside, as well as the fact that they’re calling the shots once the doors close.
They aren’t background dancers to make a male rapper look good. It’s all them.
The mansion itself is like taking a trip into Megan and Cardi’s personal sexual fantasies, complete with sexy outfits, exotic animals, and plenty of not-so-subtle nods to the power of raw, vulva-having sexuality.
One thing is glaringly absent: men.
For Cardi and Megan, this is about celebrating their arousal, their pleasure, their bodies, and their sexuality for their own sake. They aren’t asking for approval, opinions, or permission.
Instead, they’re sending a strong message to anyone who identifies as a woman.
Cardi and Megan are asserting their desire, their arousal, and their pleasure with pride.
And they’re really, really enjoying it.
It’s no surprise that such a bold and refreshing message has been met with criticism.
Republican Congressional Candidate DeAnna Lorraine tweeted that Cardi and Megan “set the entire female gender back by 100 years with their disgusting and vile ‘WAP’ song.”
“Disgusting” and “vile” are pretty strong, inappropriate words to use to describe a song about pleasure, sexual arousal, and the biological processes that go along with it.
Sure, they aren’t using the most delicate terms, but this song isn’t about being polite.
Cardi and Megan aren’t having that.
Women don’t get empowered when the world pretends that they don’t get turned on, that they don’t get wet, and they don’t want sex just as bad as men.
Cardi and Megan aren’t just aroused — they’re voracious. And they’re making that OK.
On top of making pleasure OK, Cardi and Megan are showing listeners that their sexual anatomy is not something to hide or be shy about.
Instead, they’re encouraging listeners to put their sexuality in their partner’s face, literally.
They’re celebrating how wet their vaginas are with graphic visuals, larger-than-life statues, and seriously creative metaphors.
It might not be high-brow, but Cardi and Megan aren’t trying to be. Pleasure doesn’t have to be “ladylike.”
While “WAP” may be graphic, this kind of explicit language is a tool to help us talk more openly about sex.
Healthy sexual relationships are built on clearly communicating desires, curiosities, and boundaries. And frankly, sexy metaphors make for fabulous foreplay.
Interpretations of the song as vulgar show just how uncomfortable people get when talking about female body parts outside a medical context.
The vagina itself has a history of negative associations, leading to self-consciousness and reduced satisfaction for some women.
One older study noted several negative perceptions of the vagina, including the vagina as inferior to the penis, disgusting, and dangerous.
On top of negative myths, the false standard of the “perfect vagina,” involving size, shape, and tightness, has historically been used to control and abuse women.
Ben Shapiro shared that his “doctor wife” suggests Cardi and Megan might have bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, or trichomoniasis. Apparently, when women talk openly about wetness, they must be diseased.
Shapiro also felt the need to point out Cardi B’s “checkered” past before diving into his dismissive review of her work. This isn’t surprising, considering that provocative women have often been dismissed as pathological, deviant, or insane throughout history.
During arousal, the vagina may become wet as the glands produce lubricating fluids. The clitoris and vulva swell up as blood vessels dilate.
This is a perfectly natural and healthy part of physiological functioning. Of course, not every body works exactly the same way. That’s where lube comes in.
Lubrication is a crucial part of sexual play, regardless of whether the body produces lubrication of its own. Either way, wetness is something to celebrate.
While needing a “bucket and a mop” is hyperbolic, it’s definitely showing an appreciation of wetness.
If there’s anything setting women back 100 years, it’s flippant accusations that being wet must equate to a sexually transmitted infection.
In the video, Cardi and Megan make a lot of references to oral sex, both giving and receiving.
Cardi B is brazen and unabashed about how much she enjoys oral sex and how much her partners enjoy giving it to her. She’s not trying to be coy.
This is really different, considering that receiving oral sex can trigger embarrassment, self-consciousness, and even shame for many. It can be a very vulnerable experience.
According to a
In 2017, Jamaican artist Ishawna released “Equal Rights” — a direct call for oral sex, making it clear that men have to give if they want to get from her.
These artists challenge misogyny, normalize oral sex, and glorify reciprocity.
While they call for receiving oral sex several times, Cardi and Megan also talk a big game about their own skills.
They don’t present being on the giving end as degrading, disgusting, or a favor they do for men, but as a power they expertly wield. How refreshing is it to hear women throw down about their head game?
They’re proud of their abilities, they enjoy performing them, and they aren’t apologizing about it.
Although the song refers to heterosexual sex, the “WAP” video makes some room for diversity.
It includes some homoerotic moments, like the scenes where Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are lying together and sensually touching and flicking their tongues at each other.
It also shows different personas taking the stage, giving viewers glimpses into different preferences along the spectrum of sexuality.
At one point, Megan Thee Stallion takes on a BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) persona while maintaining a strong, consent-focused stance.
On top of these diverse expressions of sexual desire, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion wander the hallways and peek into other rooms with plenty of interest.
A little healthy voyeurism, anyone?
These diverse portrayals of sexual expression show that no one is stuck in one “room” of sexuality. We are all free to roam.
Cardi and Megan are resisting the idea that sex needs to look, sound, or feel any one way.
They’re showing us that sex isn’t performed or endured by women for the pleasure of men. They’re the ones craving it, demanding it, enjoying it, and leading the way.
Sometimes they’re submissive, sometimes they’re dominating, sometimes it’s all about them getting off.
By making this clear to everyone, including the young people who are inevitably listening, we help disrupt the implicit acceptance that heterosexual sex is limited to the “needs” of a man and the “duty” of a woman.
With Cardi and Megan challenging some of the most basic cultural assumptions about what “good” sex looks like (i.e. male-centric, tame, and involving docile women), they were bound to make some waves.
What they’re doing is taking the metaphorical scarlet letter, slapping it on proudly, and saying, “Yeah, so what?”
No wonder it’s pissing people off.
They’re calling for a no-holds-barred celebration of female sexuality when it’s been denigrated for most of history. You can’t do that quietly, politely, and with gentle language.
You have to flaunt it.
You have to use the very same language that makes everyone believe vaginas, wetness, and women’s pleasure are vile, disgusting, diseased, and dangerous.
This is how you undo centuries of shame, objectification, and subjugation: by refusing to downplay the power of women’s sexuality.
Language has power, and few words have more power than “p*ssy”.
At several points in the song, Megan and Cardi talk about mixing money and sex.
They imply that sex with them is such a privilege that their partners are willing to pay for it. Their complete lack of shame or defensiveness around this issue is truly powerful.
Transactional sex is a contentious issue that women are so often told to feel shame for. For Cardi and Megan, accepting money and gifts for their stellar services seems like a no-brainer.
It simply means that their sexuality has value. It’s a sign of how desirable, sexy, and unstoppable they are.
Transactional sex is not degrading or coercive. From this perspective, it can be a source of empowerment. When the stigma is taken away from the concept of mixing money and sex, women have the agency to choose.
Cardi and Megan make it clear that sex is a transaction when they want it to be. They’re sending the message that it’s up to each of us to decide the terms of our sexual engagements.
We can have sex for pleasure, we can have sex for money, or we can have sex for both.
Cardi and Megan also reveal the reason that this is so threatening to the status quo. These women are powerful, fearless, and sexy AF.
The idea that women’s sexuality may no longer be controlled through shame, disgust, and gaslighting has the power to rock the foundations of the patriarchy.
Isn’t it about time women got to define how they choose to wield their sexuality?
There’s power in choice, whether that leads to rough play or watching from the sidelines. Still, Megan and Cardi go further than that.
They show everyone that we don’t have to play nice when it comes to sex. We don’t have to relinquish ownership of our bodies or our arousal. We can maintain dignity, autonomy, and control while maximizing our pleasure and getting raunchy about it.
We can take back our pleasure, our pride, our agency, and our power.
From roleplay to rough play, nude photos to transactional sex, they’re telling us we are free to choose and enjoy.
No shame, no filter. Just raw pleasure.
The men paying attention are learning as they listen, and the expectation that women will assume the position and take what they get is fading away.
In the end, what Cardi and Megan are saying is this: We’re powerful women, we love sex, and we’re good at it. If you can’t handle it, there’s the door.
Alicia A. Wallace is a queer Black feminist, women’s human rights defender, and writer. She’s passionate about social justice and community building. She enjoys cooking, baking, gardening, traveling, and talking to everyone and no one at the same time on Twitter.