The purpose of releasing a song for most is to garner traction and views, with the eventual goal of earning dollars and cents. To think that music has become provocative in the pursuit of this purpose as a result of a degradation of societal values is to diminish its history. Madonna, the Queen of Pop, was turning heads and taking names back in the 1980s with raunchy lyrics that pushed the envelope.
You’d be forgiven to think music began its shift towards popular music level explicitness then. Harry Roy & the Orchestra of British persuasion struck a catchy chord in 1931 with “My Girls Pussy”, as did African-American blues singer Lucille Bogan in 1924 with “Shave ’Em Dry”. Both qualify as proof that humans have expressed their raunchiest desires through music before the age of social media and the easily choreographed outrage it affords.
We’d also be remiss to exclude, from this proof by contradiction, the litany of sexually explicit tunes which stretches the boundaries of what has been deemed moral from just about every top dancehall artiste in the history of the genre.
The Art of Comparison
Now, then, must we wonder at the prekeh the collab between Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Wet Ass Pussy” has caused. There is a tendency, one which we’re all a bit guilty of, to isolate our generation as an extreme, whether it be the most corrupt, smartest, immoral, virtuous, or shallow. But it would be a good wager for us to believe that this too was the case centuries and millennia in the past.
“This generation is…This generation doesn’t…”
Humans have always been human, oddly enough, and our core impulses and desires, internally repressed or not, have been broadly the same. We love sex; and this is why it sells.
To foam at the mouth at two female rappers’ expression of their sexuality goes to a core, traditionally entrenched idea on the virtue of women. You see, sex is something done to women, or so the traditional pillars of society have conditioned us to think. This pillar of human life explains the double standard in how we treat women as it relates to sex and their expression thereof. A virgin is pure, but only is female. The sexually experienced is desirable, but only if male.
When sex is viewed in a vacuum as man’s reward for getting the girl by the means he chose to employ, her desires are muted. Her agency in deciding to accept this man’s advances, or make her own, because she too desires some level of satisfaction and euphoria, is ignored. It is that women don’t like sex, when, in fact, they may enjoy it more than men, that confuses those of us who believes only the woman’s body to be a prize.
The Art of Patriarchy
These conversations about the absolute weakness of the patriarchy always go both ways, because the outrage diminishes both sexes. It cheapens the worth of the woman’s mentality and of the man’s desirability. Men, in this scenario, go after the prize, and women are the recipient who accede to the charming, flashy ‘gyallis’.
The man with many women is a gyallis and the woman a whore, not a ‘mannis’ because she has been breached on several occasions. A key that opens many doors is ultimately more valuable than a lock that any key that is angular enough could open. Sexual liberation is a negative for Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, a blight on their value as women who aim to make a difference for the black race outside their profession.
And this is all within the bounds of society where two of the most recognizable forms of black music are hip hop and dancehall. It is acceptable for the hottest rapper or deejay to describe as vividly as is possible what he does to his women as a direct consequence of his wealth, but reprehensible for a woman to proclaim her power and flaunt her magnificence. Murder lyrics and reinforcements of materialism are little threat to the fabric of the black community in the US and, indeed, in Jamaica and are merely protestations of the upper, lighter classes that seek to undermine our culture and innate sexiness. We then abandon this logic as men when confronted with our own privilege because it is difficult for us to see women as our equals, or as humans who deserve to be love, satisfied and valued. Does this sound familiar when applied to the race argument?
How we view sexually experienced men and women is a paradox, if there ever was, because one does not exist without the other in majority heterosexual societies. That is, to say, all human societies and settlements. We want to have the cake and we want to eat it too. Truthfully, the only critiques of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP should be its middling quality as a standalone track, (and no, not the Kylie Jenner cameo) and the furtherance of the patriarchy hybrid which pits men and women in a competition to plunder the benefits while rejecting the pitfalls.
“I don’t cook, I don’t clean
But let me tell you how I got this ring (Ayy, ayy)”
There’s plenty of outrage to go around depending on how this lyric is interpreted. If we think of women rejecting the “I cook, clean, and wash” norm and still requiring the male’s end of the patriarchal contract to be fulfilled, then pitchforks out. This could easily be taken to sell a story of encouraging young women to feed into the patriarchy hybrid mentioned above. But then, when contextualized to account for the other tangibles women bring on an individual level, it could be interpreted as a limitation on what is valued by men. That is, housewife’s duties.
It’s the control for me.
“Put this pussy right in your face
Swipe your nose like a credit card”
It is further understood that the men are the dominant in the patriarchy. The video is not only an expression and homage to liberation away from the dictates of a man, which is particularly timely in the case of Megan Thee Stallion, but a statement which evinces the ability to have control.
At least 99% of the Jamaican man’s offense towards the above lyric are the apparent submissiveness and servitude required in the moment, and the mockery that is sure to abound if suspected to engage in these acts. For, you see, nobody loves men more than other men. And this is a central reason for the need to object to the song. It’s upside down. Not only the how, but the what.
In the aftermath of WAP, as the song continues to wap up those below it on YouTube’s ‘Trending’ list, we’re left to ponder another case of performative outrage to advance our own motives for the payoff of sadistic pleasure. There are serious questions for the male gender to ponder as to why policing of the woman’s story is so vital. There’s a collective agreement that needs to be made on the relinquishing of perceived control over a woman. It is hypocritical to protest injustices and biases on the basis on skin colour but gate-keep on the basis of gender.
WAP is truly phenomenal, inna real life, as is the accompanying video for the song, but unfortunately only on men’s terms and, even more unfortunately, when we say its appropriate.