When Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion Normalize Sexuality

Women of African Descent have faced too much scrutiny when expressing healthy sexuality.

Despite my not being a fan of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s music, I will stand behind their ability to engage in their sexuality and their freedom to express themselves creatively. Last week, the music video for “WAP” was released to some questionable resistance.

We can entertain the ideologies surrounding sexuality, femininity, and vulgarity all that we wish, but until we unpack the layers surrounding Black women, we’re never going to get to true understanding. Historically, sexuality and Black women have been public domain. Not only is a healthy sexuality natural, but it’s also a form of agency. Unfortunately, we forget the alternative that still reigns: rape culture. Recent statistics present that one in four Black girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Not to mention, one in five Black women are survivors of rape, but for every one rape that is reported, at least 15 Black women do not report their sexual assault experience. Even more detrimental is the looming presence of sexual assault within the LGBTQ+ community.

Not only is a healthy sexuality natural, but it’s also a form of agency.

Image Sourced from Teen Vogue

The lyrics behind “WAP” are descriptive, but the outrage surrounding women of African descent proclaiming how they enjoy their sexual relationships and have fun needs to stop. For far too long, societal dictations have expressed how Black women need to behave to be treated with respect when there are fewer examples of this actually happening. Americans had the most educated First Lady in American history during the Obama Administration, yet Michelle Obama was still equated with antiquated animal imagery and demeaned in ways that are completely unacceptable.

Black women have been objectified and dehumanized in the most damaging ways.

Upon the presidential election of Donald Trump, Melania was received with such commentary on her femininity and class despite her questionable past. Now, I’m not in the position to slander her, but isn’t it interesting that a former model is able to receive positive treatment for her transformation, yet Michelle is unable to receive the same. Aside from being without public blemish, Michelle’s femininity experienced scrutiny because she is Black.

Since the periods of enslavement and colonialism, Black women have been objectified and dehumanized in the most damaging ways. Sara Baartman, also known as The Venus Hottentot was a museum freak show exhibit for her “exaggerated features.” Yet, despite her being multilingual and intelligent, she served as a pawn in scientific racism by the very individuals who equally praised her. While on display, she was groped and raped before becoming dissected in her death in order to still maintain her genitalia as display items.

The puritanical weavings of American society still attempt to paint men as highly visual and women as incapable of the same feat. It’s as if they’ve never seen a woman focus on her appearance or anything that is aesthetically pleasing. The “temptation” of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion when it comes to causing good, honest men to “stumble” is damaging. It’s not damaging to men, but to Black women who wish to exude confidence in their authentic selves, whatever that personality should present itself to be. The monolithic treatment of Black women leads to a problematic dichotomy: either they are sexless, infallible leaders uplifting their community or they’re scandalous vixens bringing down their community. The weight of the Black community should not solely rest on Black women.

Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro responded that based on “WAP,” “This is what the feminist movement was all about. It’s not really about women being treated as independent, full, rounded human beings. It’s about wet a*s p-word. And if you say anything differently, it’s because you’re a misogynist.” In actuality, the very nature of his commentary is misogynistic. For some reason, the feminist movement’s mission appears to be forgotten. It was always about equality within one’s choices.

Rap and Hip Hop music have served as entities of rebellion, commentary, and oral storytelling. This includes sexual content. When male rappers have explicitly shared the details of their preferred sexual relations, they are met with less resistance because “boys will be boys.” Women are expected to not only raise them but to bring them into maturity in the same way that women are expected to raise themselves. It doesn’t work that way.

After all, the current president has a penchant for sexualizing his daughter and “grabbing women by the p*ssy.”

The double standard in what Ben Shapiro stated is that Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are “independent, full, rounded human beings.” They also enjoy having consenting sexual relations because they are human. Their ability to be fully present in these relationships so that it’s equally pleasurable for both parties involved is definitely not a crime. After all, the current president has a penchant for sexualizing his daughter and “grabbing women by the p*ssy.”

Then again, why do we even care for the blatant ignorance of Ben Shapiro when he doesn’t consider rap or hip hop to be “real music” based on his own racist and eurocentric standards? His response is that he has merit because his father is a music theorist. I’d personally rather avoid talking about how loaded and problematic that statement is as well.

Republican congressional candidate James P. Bradley took to Twitter to present his highly requested opinion. “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!” As a former practicing Catholic, I’m concerned that he’s pouring holy water in his ears. As a feminist, I’m even more bothered that despite the number of women in existence, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are the only two that constitute role models.

Mind you, Congressional Candidate Bradley ignores the philanthropic efforts that Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion engage in thanks to the profits from their careers. He, like many others, also appears to look upon celebrities as pseudo parents.

what can we truly expect from a person who “accidentally” listens to an entire song?

The upbringing of your children is dependent upon you and not celebrity culture. Such commentary also removes the ability for those of other religions and different familial structures to abide by morals and personhood. But, what can we truly expect from a person who “accidentally” listens to an entire song? It was only after a few hours of backlash that Bradley attempted to champion for their First Amendment rights. Once again, American women, especially those of African descent, do not need a White male to grant them freedoms that are already written in the U.S. Constitution.

if you don’t like “WAP,” you genuinely don’t have to listen to it

Regardless, one’s opinion on “WAP” should solely be rooted in the song itself and not place stress on its creators. Far too often, art is immediately seen as interchangeable with the artist. Art with all of its potential for critique and controversy should be treated fairly, regardless of the artist.

It’s rare to see the same attention given to non-African descent artists. Miley Cyrus only had a twerking phase and received forgiveness. Funnily enough, the entirety of white womanhood was not questioned or even trivialized by her actions in the same way the Black female community continually experiences. It’s only appropriate to want the same for Black womanhood.

In essence, if you don’t like “WAP,” you genuinely don’t have to listen to it. Then again, should your children approach you for “The Talk,” I honestly hope that you normalize healthy sexual relationships in your teachings to them as well instead of prudishly shaming them for something that is natural.

I explore the intersectionality of race and culture from a humanistic lens. Host of The Renegade Professor Podcast.

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