I have the memory of a gnat, so I can name approximately two things that happened in 2020: the presidential election and the release of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s delightful single, “WAP,” along with its equally delightful, star-studded music video. On a new episode of Jason Lee’s “REVOLT” show on Wednesday, Cardi revealed that she had reservations about submitting “WAP” for Grammy consideration that year, considering all the backlash it received from outraged men and conservatives.
“I didn’t want to submit ‘WAP’ because I was afraid that if I win or if I… You know what’s so crazy? The internet got me even afraid of winning. That is insane,” Cardi told Lee. Ultimately, she said, she realized she needed to “stop letting the internet control my life.” Same, girl.
Cardi wound up not submitting “WAP” for Grammy consideration, but it still topped the charts and received five nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards. Her revelation this week that harassment from conservatives prompted her to hold herself back brings me right back to the summer of 2020, when we were all shut away in our homes and (even more) perennially online, thanks to the pandemic. Naturally, this gave men like conservative commentator Ben Shapiro all the time in the world to make “WAP” all about themselves—and their self-admitted inability to make their wives wet. It was simultaneously the best of times and the worst of times—let’s take a little walk down memory lane, shall we?
Shapiro, sarcastically, called the track “what feminists fought for” and proceeded to quite comically brag about his wife’s lack of attraction to him. The idea of being wet from sexual arousal, Shapiro said, was absolutely unthinkable to his wife: “As I also discussed on the show, 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,” he wrote in a tweet. In other words, the only explanation that he and his wife could even conceive of for a woman being wet in a sexual context is terminal illness.
Another critique of “WAP” from a conservative man began with a complaint that his Instagram algorithm (customized based on his browsing history) mysteriously, exclusively show posts of scantily clad women. The Republican congressional candidate, who declared that “WAP” shows “what happens when children are raised without God and without a strong father figure,” claimed he’d only “accidentally heard” the song. Sure, dude!
For Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, the concept of women being turned on and ready for sex was so foreign, so unheard of, that he told his audiences of the “WAP” acronym: “We can’t tell you what it stands for. We literally can’t tell you what the name of the song is, much less its lyrics.”
Yes, exactly; how could Tucker—who’s probably never personally witnessed a wet-ass pussy in his life— be expected to tell us what “WAP” stands for?
“That’s garbage. You don’t need to be a puritan to think so,” Carlson further complained of Cardi’s explanation that the song was teaching women about our bodies, our pleasure, even sexual hygiene. “It’s garbage. It’s aimed at young American girls—maybe your girls, your granddaughters, and what is it doing to them? Can you imagine what it’s doing to them?” Teaching little girls and young women that when they grow up, they should actually enjoy sexual encounters, as opposed to being pressured into them, or settling exclusively for bad, male pleasure-centric sex—how scandalous!
That, of course, was the core of conservative and hyper-masculine backlash to “WAP.” Rapper Cee Lo Green, notably accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, also weighed in, writing off “WAP” as “salacious gesturing.” This opinion, from a man who’s said that it isn’t rape if a woman is unconscious, to me, said the quiet part aloud: that anti-”WAP” backlash was a desperate play to weaponize faux-outrage and stigmatize women’s sexual agency.
In any case, I’m sad to hear that all of this bullshit ultimately prompted Cardi to clip her own wings, but I get it. The internet is fucking toxic, and I respect Cardi doing what she needed to do for her peace. With or without a Grammy, the cultural impact of “WAP” is indelible and surely has taught at least one woman (*ahem* Ben Shapiro’s wife) what a wet-ass pussy is.