in December, we had the pleasure of witnessing Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion in her enigmatic glory at Bomb Factory. In our glowing review, we were particularly astonished at her ability to be the life of an absolute rager just 24 hours after taking a final exam and accepting a Powerhouse Award at Billboard’s 2019 Women in Music event.
Artists with a hustle like Megan’s are rare, and with an array of bad-bitch anthems such as “Hot Girl Summer” and “Savage” under her belt, she's a fine example of the notion of “Work hard, play hard.”
The rapper's newest single “WAP” places bold emphasis on the latter part of the phrase in its unabashed raunchiness, which becomes even more apparent when you realize the acronym stands for “wet-ass pussy.” Even the radio edit of this hook (“wet and gushy”) is too lusty for many people's comfort, and in a video that attracted near-unanimous mockery across social media, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro clutched his pearls as he recited the lyrics.
ladies please contain your excitement pic.twitter.com/e8Lr5Np8yD— jordan (@JordanUhl) August 10, 2020
Of course, instead of “pussy,” Shapiro had to say “p-word” and clarify that it is, “You know, female genitalia.”
But in a follow-up tweet, he further engaged in what the kids call a “self-own” in saying: “My only real concern is that the women involved — who apparently require a ‘bucket and a mop’ — get the medical care they require…My doctor wife’s differential diagnosis: bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, or trichomonis [sic].”
Overlooking the fact that Shapiro essentially admitted to never being able to open the taps on his wife's, um, "p-word" (a euphemism for pussy, in case you forgot) his reaction was in no way an anomaly. Republican House candidate from California James P. Bradley tweeted Friday: “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!”
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 P. Bradley (@BradleyCongress) August 7, 2020
DeAnna Loraine, who unsuccessfully ran as the Republican opposition to Nancy Pelosi earlier this year, also took to Twitter to express her disapproval of the song, saying, “Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion just set the entire female gender back by 100 years with their disgusting & vile ‘WAP’ song.”
Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion just set the entire female gender back by 100 years with their disgusting & vile “WAP” song.— DeAnna Lorraine ???????? (@DeAnna4Congress) August 7, 2020
This conservative backlash is, of course, hilarious, but it’s also backed by decades of precedent. In 1985, Tipper Gore attempted to censor artists with vulgar or objectionable content, including Prince, Judas Priest, 2 Live Crew, Cyndi Lauper and Mercyful Fate. When Kitty Wells recorded “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” in 1952, the song was banned from the airwaves and the Grand Ole Opry for daring to insinuate that unfaithful husbands make their wives unfaithful in return. A similar level of ostracization occurred when Loretta Lynn came out with her 1975 pro-birth control anthem, “The Pill.”
“WAP” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the sheer vulgarity that has been explored in popular music. In 1924, Ma Rainey recorded a song called “Shave Em Dry,” and Lucille Bogan’s 1935 version kicks off with the lyrics, “I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb / I got something between my legs, that will make a dead man cum.”
And if you think the music video for “WAP” is offensive, you would have likely fainted from shock at Throbbing Gristle’s 1976 COUM Transmissions art show, which consisted of used tampons and pornographic images of guitarist Cosey Fanni Tutti.
If you’re upset at the idea of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion dressing scantily clad in a video with Kylie Jenner, you would never have been able to stomach Butthole Surfers’ 1986 show at New York’s Danceteria, where vocalist Gibby Haynes and touring dancer Kathleen Lynch just about had sex on stage (it’s unclear whether penetration actually happened) while a video of penis reconstruction surgery played.
Suffice it to say, there’s an entire plane of gut-wrenching depravity in music that can be explored, and even if it didn’t make “WAP” sound like a Mennonite hymn, the song’s suggestiveness is far from unparalleled.
Besides, history teaches us that if Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B wanted to evade conservative criticism for use of the word “pussy,” they should have talked about grabbing it instead.
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