Pop Culture with Aminah: The Misogyny of the “WAP” Critique
Candace Owens and Cardi B have made headlines yet again. During an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, a Fox News show, Owens criticized Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s Grammys performance of their song “WAP.” She called it "a weakening of American society," even saying that the mere existence of the song signified “the end of the [American] empire.” Cardi B responded on Twitter by encouraging users to stream her song and sarcastically thanking Owens for the free promotion. The two exchanged several fiery tweets, ending with both threatening legal action against the other.
There’s a lot to be said about the underlying narrative behind Owens’ critiques. The “weakening” depictions that she attributes to “WAP” existed long before Cardi B’s career. In fact, they existed before women had control over their depictions in the music and entertainment industries. The most recent example is video vixens. Popularized in the late 90s/early 2000s, video vixens are female models (usually Black) in music videos, specifically videos for male hip-hop artists. The use of video vixens has been widely criticized for demeaning and sexual portrayals of Black women.
Over time, the concept of video vixens found its way into female artistry. They took control of the narrative behind their sexuality, choosing to make anthems like “WAP” as a reflection of this. It is important to note that not every female artist has embraced the adaptation. Rappers like Tierra Whack and NoName have found success in the industry using their own styles. They chose styles that made them comfortable and allowed them to express themselves how they wanted to — much like how Cardi B does. What empowers and uplifts one woman may not be the same for another. But all ways are completely valid.
With a large influx of women in the rap game, it’s fairly obvious that it’s not the message that people like Owens are concerned about. Women, especially Black women, have been openly sexualized for years in entertainment. But the moment they profit off of it and take hold of their own narrative, they are bashed for it. Despite Owens’ claims that this is an attack on American values, women are choosing to define their sexuality devoid of stigmas that have confined them for so long. And there’s nothing more American than independence.
By Aminah Jenkins, Staff Writer