On August 7, rappers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion released the single “WAP,” meeting great success online. At the time of this article's publication, the electrifying music video on YouTube, in which Cardi, Megan and, briefly, Kylie Jenner dance among snakes and tigers in a kaleidoscopic mansion setting, has amassed almost 100 million views.
At least one of those views was from conservative media personality and Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro. Naturally, Shapiro had a decidedly obnoxious, regressive opinion about the song, which he decided to share on his podcast "The Ben Shapiro Show."
In a monologue, Shapiro repeatedly denounced the song as “really vulgar,” mentioning sarcastically, “this is what feminists fought for.” The song is demeaning to women, he suggests, by failing to show them as “independent, full-rounded individuals.”
In a later tweet he asked that Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion “get the medical care they require,” having apparently consulted his doctor wife on the matter and concluded that vaginal wetness may be a cause for concern.
Putting aside the pathetic irony of a married father of three conflating a sign of female sexual arousal with the symptoms of venereal disease, it’s also telling that Shapiro believes that two sex-positive women can not also be “independent, full-rounded individuals.”
He excludes sexuality from the list of things that can, in his view, make a woman full-rounded, completely ignoring that the song is about women celebrating their independence through bodily autonomy and sexual freedom.
Countless male rappers have released songs boasting their sexual prowess and domination over women, yet few have received the same backlash as Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion have for “WAP.” Countless music videos are just as racy, yet go unnoticed because the naked or nearly-naked women feature as nameless extras rather than in the starring roles.
Shapiro’s targeted disdain for “WAP” and the women involved is a clear case of chauvinist hypocrisy, but it's far from unusual among conservative commentators. It reflects the wider regressive sexual attitudes of the modern conservative movement, a movement which has attempted and in some cases succeeded to criminalize abortion, cut funding for sex education in schools, block protections for sex workers and restrict women's access to birth control across the country.
The message is clear: women can have sex to procreate, but not for pleasure. Meanwhile, many of the same conservative lobbyists who demonize female sexuality have also made sure male enhancement drugs like Viagra remain widely attainable and relatively cheap — go figure.
Although I personally wouldn’t be comfortable performing like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion in the “WAP” music video I respect their work and will always defend their right to make it. The demonization of sexual women in the media does nothing but perpetuate the false dichotomy of the moral, repressed woman and the corrupt, sexual one, despite this split having no basis in reality. Women can be upstanding citizens while simultaneously being proud of their sexuality.
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are complex women whose love of sex represents only one dimension of their respective identities. As world-renowned artists with huge fan bases and a prominent role in pop culture, their legacies will surely extend much further than Shapiro’s own, regardless of how much skin they show online.
So please, Ben, instead of criticizing women online, go spend time with your wife and children.
Cécile Girard is a 20-year-old psychology junior from Lake Charles, LA.