Why WAP was so controversial; an analysis

Written by Grace Robinson

Warning: Explicit content

The music industry is and has been misogynistic for years, arguably decades. Women have been the subject of countless songs that include sexist language such as the 2013 song Blurred Lines including lyrics such as “I know you want it”, which indicates rape. The well-loved and known Gold Digger by Kanye West uses lyrics such as “met her at a beauty salon with a baby Louis Vuitton under her underarm” which subjects the woman caring only about materialism. Gold Digger can be inferred in different ways. Either that the women and subject of the song is doing what she has got to do to survive and being empowering whilst doing so, or that she is being mocked and belittled which is plausibly the intended meaning.  

When Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion released WAP in August 2020, there was two reactions: the empowerment of sexuality for anyone who identifies as a woman or non-binary, or that WAP was disgusting and that woman shouldn’t talk about sex in a liberating way. The latter was felt by mostly white conservative cis men, which could be said run the majority of the music industry.  Ben Shapiro, a Political pundit, believes that “this is what the feminist movement was all about. It’s not really about women being treated as independent, full rounded human beings. It’s about wet-ass p-word. And if you say anything different, you’re a misogynist.” What Ben Shapiro doesn’t realise is that this is exactly what WAP is, women are taking back the degrading nature of women in music and flipping it on its head, and people like Ben Shapiro are threatened by it. Here are some parallel examples of lyrics from well-known rappers such as Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and Kayne West and bring to light the subjection women have experienced for decades in the music industry.

Firstly, we have Do you like I do by Snoop Dogg, there’s a line that states “I only wanna f**k with you when a n-word need a little head”. Here, the lyrics portray that the woman that Snoop Dogg is talking about is only worth paying attention to when he wants to have sex or have her subject in sexual activity. This is only the first verse, the chorus is notably worst with lyrics such as “You so annoying, b**ch, you stay on my nerves”, inferring further that this woman is only good for sex. If we compare this to the lyrics to Cardi B’s WAP “Hop on top, I wanna ride, I do a kegel while it’s inside” we see the noticeable difference in the tone towards sex. Here, sex is consensual on both sides and demonstrates that we are seeing this from a woman’s perspective and suggests that she’s enjoying it. Comedian and Activist Russell Brand’s opinion on WAP gained a lot of attention for its (in my opinion) stupidity as he states, “women achieve equality to replicating the values that have been established by men.” This isn’t replicating values of men. In WAP, it appears that men are never subjected and only used as a sexual object. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion rap about what they enjoy doing during sex. Male values of sex in modern society seem to revolve around the innocence of women from having no body hair and a low body count, to name just a few. Women don’t hold these standards for men, the majority of women would want a consenting partner is the highest of the standard.  

Another song which shows misogynistic lyrics is Sister and B**ches by Jay-Z which includes the lyrics “Sisters get respect, bitches get what they deserve” “Don’t make say it thrice, you acting all up tight.” Jay-Z is obviously angry with his partner and by this he splits women into two categories. From this the only way women can get respect if they act like a sister and “cook up a meal and play their role with the kids” which adds further to the blatant misogyny but what really adds salt to the wound is Jay-Z acknowledges it in the song “Say Jay-Z why you gotta go disrespecting women for?” Lyrics such as these are why women get angry is because we are labelled as being a b**** when we get mad.

WAP shows a far different use of lyrics and treatment of men. “I’m a freak b**ch, handcuffs, leashes. Switch my wig, make him feel like he cheating.” This portrays the desire to add something different to the experience, not only for herself but for the male partner too showing the affection and intimacy of women during sex. Another issue that Ben Shapiro had with WAP was that Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion were “describing a gynaecological issue” which is very false. Here we see a man thinking he knows female anatomy and gynaecological issues and thus embarrassing himself, which some may argue is karma, but he “consulted with a doctor” who was his wife, which is even more worrying. Ultimately this highlights the increased need of more education in society.

Tweet from @benshapiro

WAP wasn’t the first song thought to be controversial with the female sexual experience. Back in 2014, Nicki Minaj released Anaconda , which received backlash as many people described the video as highly appropriate. Looking back, some might argue that the song is just women dancing and twerking whilst Nicki Minaj talks about having a big butt. However, for me it is much more than this, it is a representation of how women have always been scrutinised for expressing themselves, whether it be sexual or not. When WAP was released James P Bradley, a Republican candidate for US Representative, tweeted “Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion are what happens when children are raised without God and without a strong father figure. Their new ‘song’ The #WAP (which I heard accidentally) made me want to pour holy water in my ears and I feel sorry for future girls if this is their role model!” This just highlights the controversial nature towards this song. Is this appropriate for children? No of course not, due to the sexual nature and vast amount of profanities used throughout the song. But it shouldn’t stop those who are sexually liberated and embracing femininity to express how they feel. That’s what music is for, and if you don’t like the sound or the lyrics in a song, you don’t have to listen to it, but people should not face negative opinions for listening to it.

Grace Robinson is a first-year English Student. She is passionate about Feminism, Politics and Society. You can find her on instagram: @grace.lizz12

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