Women Against Patriarchy within cultural representation
By Thobile Mahlangu
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 8 of VARSITY News.
Cardi B and Meg Thee Stallion might have just broken the Internet with their new collaboration,
W.A.P. It’s safe to say that the song along with the music video caused quite a stir online and
although controversial, sparked a conversation about hyper-sexuality, power and pleasure as it
relates to black women.
Black women’s bodies have historically been sexualised to the point of cultural commodification,
especially in music genres like rap and hip hop. To an extent, the song and video continue to push
these narrowed ideas of what sexuality and pleasure look like. And they are not the first to do it,
maybe one of the first to receive widespread coverage but definitely not the first to perform those
representations. There are countless examples of Black female artists that have had sexually explicit lyrics and imagery in their music. So, W.A.P in some ways contributes to this mould and archetype of what Black women in music look like, which in contemporary society has shown to be
financially and socially beneficial for those involved.
However, there is an empowering element I see within W.A.P specifically in that it does so much in
its reclaim of this archetype that undermines it. The song’s lyrics particularly emphasise Black
Women’s sexual prowess that it translates as an ironic shifting of power dynamics which subverts
objectification-centred representations of black femme bodies in mainstream media.
Rap is a genre of music that has long been associated with imagery and lyrics that view Black
Women as subordinates and has been credited with the spread of misogynoir. It’s a genre that was
in need of a cultural reset. W.A.P is a prime example of flipping power dynamics and subverting
tropes and ideas for the sake of progressive cultural representation and that’s why W.A.P makes
Controversial as it may be, as a 20-year-old black woman whose had a love for rap throughout my
life and grew up listening to mostly male rappers, seeing a Black woman use the craft to express her sexuality and pleasure outside of the framework where it primarily serves her male counterparts, was something I liked to see.
*This article was written as review of W.A.P. as it relates to black women because of the writer’s
personal reception of the work however there are acknowledgements of how the representation
presented in the cultural piece is relevant to all femme-bodied individuals and their autonomy
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