WAP outrage exemplifies gendered double standards in music

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion have ruffled a lot of feathers with the release of ‘WAP’, but where is the outrage when men release music with the same content? (Image source: Billboard)

By Mallory Bradley | @malbradley_

On August 7, Cardi B released WAP featuring Megan Thee Stallion, her first single of the year which has (at the time of writing) amassed over 93 million views on YouTube and nearly 40 million streams on Spotify.

Over a week later, the song still sits at the top of the Spotify Global Top 50 playlist with nearly six million streams daily. While the shock and outrage seem to be dying down, celebrities like Russell Brand are still giving their hypercritical takes.

A Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion collaboration showcasing women owning their sexuality was bound to rustle some feathers, but the song has sent more shockwaves through the Twitter-sphere than Megan getting shot last month.

The song is nothing if not forward, which isn’t shocking in itself when the title is an acronym for ‘wet ass pussy’. The repetition of the opening line “there’s some whores in this house” throughout the song leaves no room for subtlety, but considering the content of so much other popular and rap music the response seems over the top.

Regardless of how you feel about either of these women, the song is arguably no more sexual than songs produced and performed by men, the difference is that is about their own bodies. This begs the question: if they were men would we be having this conversation?

Yes, watching Ben Shapiro pick apart the lyrics to the song in disgust under the guise of ‘medical concern’—because natural vaginal lubrication is such an alien concept to him—will always be entertaining, but how many male artists work is he taking time out of his show to analyse?

We also cannot ignore that the artists he decided needed his opinion are black women and his condescending comparison of the song to the work of Black women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony as a work of female empowerment is not a coincidental choice.

This is the same for the hordes of criticism the song has attracted too, would the same lyrics have conservatives riled up if they were sung by white women?

But it’s accusations of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion “set[ting] the entire female gender back by 100 years” and labelling them as “trash” (but radio silence in response to Eminem’s entire career that is decorated with violent misogyny and homophobia) that really highlight just how prominent these double standards are.

Sure, no one blinks an eye when men release music about sex and objectifying women, but how can women doing just that get more of a reaction than music about abusing women?

When male rappers release new music, hypersexuality, and not to mention violence, are appreciated. We see these things as expected subjects, not something that needs justification.

We expect a higher ‘morality’ in the music of women – we expect women, regardless of their audience, to be a ‘good role model’. This is only amplified when female artists have children.

If Cardi B having a child is a reason to criticise her content, why is there not the same expectation on Offset, her husband and the father of her child? Just take Migos’ (Offset’s hip hop trio) 2016 hit Bad and Boujee which includes lyrics such as “fuckin’ on your bitch she a thot, thot, thot” and “beat the ho walls loose”.

If women are to make music about their sexuality it can’t be ‘vulgar’, because that would be setting back feminism. As a female artist you can take back your body, but only if the result is appropriate to be played at a women’s march.

But we don’t expect these things from male rappers, we don’t hound them for explanations on why they wanted to make music about sex. If anything, we just expect that they just will.

So, is the outrage just shock that women could talk about sex and celebrate their bodies without shame? Or is it the horror of women making music about sex that isn’t centred around men and their pleasure?

After all, if men can write and produce music about pussy with no questions asked, so can women.

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