[dropcap]C[/dropcap]ardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP, released this month, is making juicy waves online and, unsurprisingly, fuelling conversation and debate in all corners of the internet.
The song itself is a catchy and provocative hit, with extremely explicit lyrics that the more conservative among us will have to try hard not to sing along to. New music videos are constantly being released, but every day since the release of the whimsical WAP (an acronym for Wet Ass P*ssy, in case you weren’t sure) music video, new articles have been popping up detailing the varying school of public opinion about it. We’ve compiled some of the key points that are being discussed, so that you decide which side of the debates you fall into. If you haven’t yet watched the fabulously extra music video, you can do so right now:
…And that’s the censored version.
Now that we’re all caught up and will never be able to look at cooked macaroni or a bucket and a mop the same way ever again, let’s discuss:
Kylie Jenner’s Controversial Cameo
The video blesses viewers with cameos from a number of other famous women. Normani, Mulatto, Rosalía, Sukihana, and Rubi Rose all wonder the walls of the whimsical sex manor. There’s one cameo, however that had fans in an uproar.
About one minute and 45 seconds in, Kylie Jenner, clad in an animal-print outfit like a sexy Carole Baskin slinks down a hallway in a scene that many fans are calling “unnecessary”.
— melanin fiona (@veryscaryspice) August 7, 2020
The anger of Jenner’s inclusion in the video stems less from the fact that the video seems interrupted by her long, slow walk down that hallway, and more from the fact that her inclusion marks the only break in a space otherwise filled with artists of colour.
a list of white women i would’ve preferred to see in the WAP video over kylie: pic.twitter.com/6hlUE7CYaV
— uchiha clan bbw🏅 (@yawningemoji) August 7, 2020
Jenner’s presence seems to mar the video which has otherwise been praised for the way it spotlights black women – especially since Jenner has been accused of appropriating black culture in the past. Not long after the video’s release, a Change.org petition had been created demanding the removal of the Jenner cameo entirely. The fan-led petition’s caption reads: “The video was perfect until we saw K and I wanted to throw my phone”.
Kylie Jenner didn’t have much to say about the petition, but Cardi B did send out this poorly written tweet, sweeping the Jenner issue deftly under the rug and advertising her serious need for a copy editor, or at the very least better spellcheck software.
I wanna say thank you to every woman that was apart of my video! The fact that you made time in your schedules means alot to me! It was so important to me to include different women,that are different races and come from different backgrounds but are so powerful and influential.
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) August 7, 2020
But let’s get back on the topic of Carole Baskin for a minute.
Carole Baskin’s Beef with Cardi B
Kylie Kenner isn’t the only thing roaming the halls of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP mansion. The rooms appear to be holding a number of big cats – a fact about which Baskin of Tiger King fame has a lot to say.
After the release of the video, the owner and CEO of Big Cat Rescue released a strongly worded statement in which she expressed her concerns about the tigers and leopards that appear throughout the video.
“My guess is that most people won’t even see the Photoshopped cats in the scenes because the rest of it is so lurid,” Baskin told Billboard. “I was happy to see that it does appear to all be Photoshopped. It didn’t look like the cats were really in the rooms with the singers. In fact, probably most of the rooms were Photoshopped in via green screen. That being said, you have to pose a wildcat in front of a green screen to get that image and that doesn’t happen in the wild.”
Baskin continues by saying that depicting big cats this way promotes the idea that they can be kept as pets. She also told Vice in an email that the videos creators “probably dealt with one of the big cat pimps, probably even one of the ones shown in Tiger King, Murder, Mayhem and Madness, who makes a living from beating, shocking and starving cats to make them stand on cue in front of a green screen in a studio”.
Ironically, none of the pussies Baskin is concerned about appear in water.
WAP is a Sexual Triumph for Womxn
The fetishisation and exploitation of black female bodies has strong roots in colonialism and the patriarchal societies we live in. With WAP, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion appear to be leading a wave of black, female sexual empowerment. In the words of Rhea Cartwright from Popsugar, “perhaps the only thing that could irk our patriarchal society more than seeing women unapologetically reclaim their sexuality is seeing not one but two Black women do so”.
Cartwright praises the way the openness in which female sexual pleasure is navigated and presented without being tainted by the all-assuming male gaze. She admires the way animal print is used in the video. Before animal prints were fashion, they were symbols of wealth and power in African cultures. After the colonisation of Africa, the prints became laced with sexual and erotic connotations by Europeans who portrayed women wearing animal print as the exotic savage.
“As Cardi and Megan bask in their Blackness, whilst steering the sexual conversation in custom leopard and white tiger outfits,” she writes, “we are reminded of what Black women have endured in a society that has silenced and taken ownership of their bodies”.
Not all have praised this quality in the WAP video, though. One women’s sexual liberation is another woman’s liberal erotic nightmare. Take former Congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine, for example:
Or take James P Bradley, who is running for a Congressional seat in California, and strongly believes that Cardi B may be the devil, who needs to be flushed out of his ear canals with Holy Water:
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!
— James Bradley For US Senate CA (@JamesBradleyCA) August 7, 2020
According to Cartwright: “As we struggle to understand how he listened ‘accidentally’, we are privy, once again, to the insufferable irony that the current president can claim that it’s OK to ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ but two women cannot discuss the moistness of their own.”
Alax Abad-Santos, writing for Vox, says that “on the surface, [these tweets are] performative pearl-clutching. But it’s also his attempt to take away Cardi and Megan’s power, painting them and their desires as unnatural affronts to God”, simply for revelling in perfectly a natural biological process.
This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, but wetness is a normal part of how vaginas work, and according to Abad-Santos, much of the backlash WAP has received is more about shaming women for being open about that, than anything else. Negative reactions and expressions of discomfort are more of an indication of our society’s damaged view of sex than an indication that theirs something wring with this musical erotic fantasy by women, for women.
Whichever side of the fence you’re on, it can’t be denied that, while women are taught to refrain from expressing their own sexuality – unless it be in order to serve the male gaze that dictates every situation – women can, in fact, take charge of their own sexuality without censoring themselves.
To those who have argued that WAP does in fact pander to the male gaze, Cartwright responds with “whilst there may be some truth to that, what could be more liberating than capitalising on the same construct built to suppress you? Profiting off male desires as she unashamedly spits her own, Cardi B is very clearly the driving force behind this work of art that sits proudly in the feminist canon”.
Furthermore, in a society that pits women against each other, and frequently encourages competition between them, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP video shows that women can support other women, spotlight them, and share their success with each other. This marks the beginning of a movement of women supporting women in creative industries that’s going to be very exciting to watch.