Many people in this culture are intensely focused on rooting out “problematic” language and “toxic” messages. They insist that we must rename sports teams and objects in outer space, rebrand grocery items, ban books, and censor films, all for the sake of protecting society from the harm that inappropriate words and ideas may cause. Anyone who steps outside the perceived lines of decency is condemned with a hostility once reserved for rapists and murderers. It would be quite confusing, then, for any alien who lands on this planet, or any person who emerges after being lost in the rainforest for the past five decades, to discover just what sort of media these perpetually scandalized people enjoy.
Indeed, the very same people who were so traumatized by a fast food CEO’s comments that they boycotted his chicken restaurant for eight years, and the very same people who have tearfully denounced “offensive” Disney costumes worn by children, and the very same people who are liable to break into convulsions of anger if you say something really provocative like “men and women are different,” and the very same people who invented concepts like trigger warnings and safe spaces, are the ones who will listen to, appreciate, and celebrate the most vulgar and degrading television shows, films, and songs, made by some of the most loathsome people this country has produced. They are puritans about all that is innocuous, and libertines about all that is genuinely objectionable. They have everything backwards. And never has the contrast been clearer than with the reaction to the latest bit of audible sewage from the rapper Cardi B.
Before we get into the new song, we should note that Cardi B, a former stripper, has admitted publicly that she used to drug and take advantage of men. In her own words: “I had to go strip, I had to go, ‘Oh yeah, you want to f*** me? Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s go back to this hotel,’ and I drugged n****s up, and I robbed them. That’s what I used to do.”
Cardi B Cosby’s weak excuse for this behavior is that she had to do it to “survive.” Yet she has elsewhere bragged that she made up to $3,000 a night as a stripper and had $35,000 in singles saved by the time she turned 22. For comparison sake, a surgeon earns around $120 an hour, which means Cardi B, by her own testimony, was taking in substantially more than a surgeon just by taking off her clothes. And yet she needed to lure men back to her hotel room, drug them, and rob them, in order to stave off starvation? Somehow the story doesn’t add up. It seems more likely that she is a sociopath and predator.
But this fact does not seem to have troubled Reebok or Pepsi, who both signed million dollar endorsements with the confessed criminal. The cancel culture has ruined people’s lives over edgy tweets they posted as teenagers, yet Cardi B Cosby’s personal history involves drugging people and taking advantage of them, and she faces absolutely no consequence for it whatever.
Cardi’s newest song, topping the charts in the US, the UK, and across the world, is called “WAP” — an acronym I can’t spell out but which references female genitalia. In fact, I can’t reprint any of the lyrics, but suffice it to say that the song begins and ends with the refrain “there’s some whores in this house” and everything that happens in between would seem very much to confirm those declarations. The song wants to be extraordinarily vulgar, and it succeeds. It also wants to be shocking, but in that regard it fails. For an artist to truly shock, she must have wit, intelligence, and vision. There is a severe scarcity of those qualities among any of the people involved here, so they are reduced to being merely obnoxious instead. The entire song is like something that someone might have scrawled in red ink on a bathroom stall. I think a bathroom stall may have been given a writing credit, in fact.
The problem is less with the music itself, or the video accompanying it, than with the reaction to it. In saner times, if women rolled around on the floor and screamed about their genitals for three and a half minutes, we would just ignore them, or perhaps refer them to a counselor who specializes in that kind of mania. But we do not live in sane times, and so a song with a generic beat, mediocre production qualities, and semi-coherent lyrics encouraging young women to make prostitutes of themselves, is celebrated as, according to the LA Times, “a sex-positive triumph,” and, according to USA Today, an anthem of “female fierceness.”
An article on the website Complex hails WAP as a great cultural achievement, exclaiming, in part:
“WAP” is the epitome of female empowerment. Both Cardi and Megan are powerhouses of female sexuality, independence, and dominance. In a male-dominated genre that is often criticized for misogynistic wordplay toward women, the two rappers have never shied away from taking back the narrative of femininity in hip-hop. And during a time when Black women have taken to social media to advocate for their protection and support, while basking in their blackness, the music video couldn’t be more timely.
..Walking in the footsteps of iconic sex-positive female rappers like Trina, Lil Kim, and Khia, Cardi and Megan splash around in a pool of water (which we can assume is symbolism for… yup) and describe in detail what a night in bed with them might be like. Through cocky, self-assured lyrics, the duo own their sexuality and shine light on other prominent sex symbols and female musicians, including Normani, Rosalía, Mulatto, Sukihana, Rubi Rose and Kylie Jenner.
…“WAP” is a prime example of progressive womanhood and modern femininity. The theme of women prioritizing pleasure and joy runs from start to finish. Liberation and power are showcased in the lyrics, placing the track as the duos’ most forward and compelling expression yet. Also, the song slaps.
This is the real danger. There has always been stupid, degraded vulgarity in the world, but it becomes especially — to use the favorite term of gender studies majors — problematic when that degradation is presented to our children as something to aspire to. Self-debasement is not empowering, and it is rather important that we make this point, even if it does provide the people who were recently offended by a can of beans an opportunity to call someone else a snowflake.
The crucial difference between this criticism and leftist snowflakery is that the criticism here is actually warranted and the message being criticized is actually harmful. Young girls are explicitly encouraged — by this song and by so much else in pop culture — to embrace their own objectification, to offer themselves up to be used by men who see them as nothing more than a masturbatory device. They are told to choose emptiness over joy and to see stupidity and crassness as “feminine.” The frauds who cheer this on, and help to usher a generation of girls into a miserable life of whorishness and loneliness, will soon revert back to decrying the objectification of the female form and pinning the blame on the patriarchy and other phantoms. The point here is that even the people actively promoting the objectification of women and the commodification of sexuality know very well the harm that it causes, and will tell you, if you catch them on a day when they’re pretending to care about it.
Consider the words of a woman by the name of Suki Hana who appeared in the WAP music video and later joined Cardi and the gang for a discussion promoted and broadcast by Apple Music. Here’s what she had to say:
I feel like being, like, sexual and sh*t, like, I don’t see nothin’ wrong with that because, baby, I got three kids. And I mean I got these kids from suckin’ and f**kin’, at the end of the day… Honestly I liberate a lot of hos, you feel me? When I hear Cardi talk about poppin’ some p*ssy, me and my b*tches is with it. That liberate us because it’s like “F**ck you, self-respect ass hos.” How ya’ll got self-respect? Like, I don’t think ya’ll got self-respect like that, ’cause, first of all, you supposed to tax these n**gas. That’s self-respect.
Notice the question she poses: “How ya’ll got self-respect?” She quite literally doesn’t understand the concept. She goes from recoiling at the very idea that a woman would respect herself to suggesting that true self-respect is to be found in the payment a man renders after having sex with you.
People pay for goods and services. To get paid for your sexuality is to have it treated with the same reverence that one affords a hamburger or an oil change. You have reduced yourself, your body, your very person, to a commodity, and offered it to someone who doesn’t care about you, certainly doesn’t love you, and sees you only as a means to an end. This is the diametric opposite of self-respect. Why do you think drug abuse and suicide are so common among prostitutes?
Reducing yourself to the sum total of your body parts is not a path to a healthy life, or a long one. It is a road to disappointment and despair, where the fun, for whatever it’s worth, is sure to dissipate when your physical beauty wears away, if not long before. This is the road that Cardi B, her fellow pop stars, and her insidious cheerleaders in the media, would like your daughter to walk down. And as a man with two of them, I have no shame or hesitation in saying to these forces, no, and go to Hell. I’m sorry that you didn’t have a father who loved you. But my daughters do. And so they will know better. Go wallow in your own filth and misery. I will make sure that my girls do not follow you there.