If Cardi B’s “W.A.P.” Is Female Empowerment, I Don’t Want It

Topping Number #1 on the iTunes charts, Cardi B’s newest song is being touted as the bold epitome of female empowerment. The X-rated lyrics and video provide nothing more than shock value in a piece of glorified porn that couldn’t be further from real femininity.

By Hayley Lewis3 min read

Just like the rest of our society, I’m fairly desensitized to the overly sexualized culture we live in today. I don’t believe it’s acceptable, but I’m no longer surprised when I see and hear various forms of media referencing or full-on displaying explicit acts. That being said, I couldn’t help but audibly gasp as I watched and listened to Cardi B’s latest “art” that reaches new heights of vulgarity as she and Megan Thee Stallion tell the world about their W.A.P.s, or “wet a** pu**ies.” My surprise didn’t end there however, as I continued to learn about the wide-scale praise this piece has received. 

The Graphic Lyrics

The song begins with repeated chants of “whores in this house,” the most mild lyrics of the song. The women then go on to describe how they’ll take their “wet a** pu**ies” that need a “bucket and a mop” and put them “right in a [nig***’s] face.” They continue to say they’ll use their pu**ies to “swipe your nose like a credit card” and encourage said nig*** to “come inside, take a dive.” Megan Thee Stallion calls to have someone “gobble me, swallow me, drip down inside of me, quick jump out ‘fore you let it get inside of me.” Together they conclude that “I don’t want to spit, I wanna gulp, I wanna gag, I wanna choke.” Combined with several “f” words, this is the polished version of the song that Cardi B said “was really hard for me to clean up.”

This is the polished version of the song that Cardi B said “was really hard for me to clean up.”

International Praise for the Song

In addition to topping various charts and breaking records on YouTube, the praise for the song doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Beyond the overwhelmingly positive responses from thousands on Twitter, Grammy describes the “juicy collaboration” that features “eye-catching outfits” as having the purpose to “celebrate sexual liberation but [also] highlight female empowerment.” Complex calls the women “powerhouses of female sexuality, independence, and dominance” and a “prime example of progressive womanhood and modern femininity.” NBC News said the video is “a joyful role reversal,” and Vulture claims it “is a vibrant celebration of women of color.” 

So this it, folks. The height of female empowerment, the toppling of the patriarchy, the liberation of black women, the ultimate example of femininity. Is this as good as it gets for women?

Grammy praises the song because it “celebrates sexual liberation” and “highlights female empowerment.”

I certainly hope not. In a society that’s obsessively concerned with offending and supposedly all about empowering women and people of color, it’s amazing that something like this, that repeatedly uses the “n” word and reduces women to their sexuality, is viewed as the pinnacle of liberation. I would like to find a man, who after watching these women wear next to nothing and top one another in vulgarity line after line, has gained a deeper respect for the inherent dignity that each one of these women inherently possesses (albeit deeply buried.) Does this video really have “a lot of strong women” in it, as Metro UK says, or does it fail to reference anything that truly defines a strong woman?

The True Strength of Women

Women are intelligent, complex, thoughtful, nurturing, talented, capable, and bring so much to the table. Of course they’re sexual beings, but to reduce a woman to her sex appeal is anything but empowering; in fact, I thought that was specifically an idea modern feminism wants to steer away from. As humans, we’re both intellectual and physical beings, clearly made for more than just physical pleasure. If the physical was all there was then meaningless sex and a life devoid of true love would be enough for everyone. It isn’t enough though, because people desire to be known and loved and to have a real purpose in this life. 

Women who exhibit true beauty and goodness exemplify genuine empowerment. 

Simply conflating unashamed promiscuity with confidence leaves out the myriad of other factors that lead to someone feeling powerful and sure of themselves. In fact, associating strength solely with sexuality is degrading, disrespectful, and entirely misses the beauty and grace that true femininity has to offer. When juxtaposed with truly virtuous heroines, it’s clear that this twisted idea of “female empowerment” immediately loses all substance. The courage of Rosa Parks, the grace of Eleanor Roosevelt, the determination of Bethany Hamilton, and the class of Kate Middleton show the many remarkable facets of femininity that exhibit real strength. 

In addition to the women who have left their mark on history, what about the everyday women who are remembered deep within our own hearts? The mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, teachers, and nurses that have so lovingly cared for others and remain unrecognized by most. The businesswomen who have pioneered innovations. The politicians who have spoken up for the truly oppressed. Do we view these women as unempowered because they’ve chosen not to laud their sexuality as the most important component of themselves? Of course not. It’s these women, the ones who exhibit true beauty and goodness, that exemplify genuine empowerment. 

Closing Thoughts: Women Define Civilization 

These are the women who lead by example, who encourage others, including men, to rise to greater standards. Fulton Sheen said, “When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.” 

The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.

Does anyone watching that video honestly feel that those women show a noble character that’s unwaveringly devoted to truth, justice, and goodness? Let’s hope that the level of women exemplified in “W.A.P.” is nothing more than a fleeting moment in the history of our civilization, rather than the defining one.