WAP: Women Asserting Power
The Cultural Significance of Overt Female Sexuality in American Music
Did I purchase an OnlyFans membership for a month for the express purpose of watching Cardi B’s behind-the-scenes content for this music video? Yes. Was it worth it? 100%.
The latest in my series of Things No One Asked For (and a sequel to that TikTok deck) is an exploration of sexuality and power dynamics in music as it relates to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP”: the contextual significance of explicitness in rap music, the history of the word “pussy” in pop culture, the notability of French aristocratic design and Britney Spears’ influence on the video’s aesthetic, and how “WAP” represents the unapologetic reclamation of sexual agency and an alternate social hierarchy in which Black women are the reigning class.
I wrote this because I was interested in the onslaught of backlash the song received after it was released. And I had questions — why does rap use the word “pussy” so frequently? Why was it so offensive? Would the reaction to “WAP” be the same if it were two white female rappers or two black male rappers? I was primarily focused on contextualizing both the aesthetics and the lyrics of the music video, but I was also curious about what the use of the word “pussy” meant in the context of a patriarchal, relatively conservative society and how women use it as a tool of sexual liberation and agency.
Hot tip: Make sure you read my notes in the comments for context; just click the gear icon and select “view speaker notes”
Originally published at https://www.jayemsey.com on April 16, 2020.