Note: this edition contains NSFW (not suitable for work) themes - explicit lyrics and content exploring sex, pleasure and porn.
With the release of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s new song and video ‘WAP’ (the first female rap collab to debut at No.1 on the hot 100), this week we got to exploring female sexuality’s increasing presence in pop culture and the growing world of OnlyFans. This 52INSIGHTS will address some of the cultural conversations sparked by WAP, and some of the current conversations around OnlyFans - a website where fans pay subscriptions to see content from creators (like a Patreon for porn).
“There's some whores in this house” is how the #1 song WAP opens. The lyrics get much more explicit… WAP is short for 'wet a*s p*ssy'. Cardi said: “The song is really nasty.” Paired with a loud, colourful music video (released on August 6th it has over 119 million views and counting) celebrating female pleasure/power and explicit hetero sex - and featuring Kylie Jenner - the conversation (and creative response) around its release has been relentless. It’s no surprise then, perhaps, that following its release there was general outrage (and much celebration) on the internet. Audiences young and old have been commenting on all of the below themes and much more as a result of the song and music video:
- Diversity (the backlash to Kylie Jenner’s presence in the video sparked Cardi B to explain how she “wanted different type of bad bitches in my video. Black, white, Latin, mix we all have WAPS!”
- Female pleasure, sex, expression, shame and sexual promiscuity (conservative politicans and commentators in the US did not appear to be happy about this. Many called for the song to be banned).
- Physical arousal in general and its presence in popular music (and double standards in the music industry ie. men singing or rapping about sex or sexualising women being a norm).
- Patriarchy and politics. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted “Women Against Patriarchy (WAP) 2020.”
- Animal rights (big cats feature in the video)
Young people on social media have been responding to the song in a variety of ways, using #WAP to signal a ‘mood’ (shorthand articulation of how they are feeling), referencing it as a feminist/empowering battle cry (que thirst traps) or just for expressing themselves in a physical way (eg. dancing the WAP challenge).
Following the video’s release, Megan and Cardi B garnered huge support for following up to celebrate powerful women with a cash giveaway: “To all everyone supporting #WAP we see you!! we’re partnering with Twitter and Cash App to celebrate all the powerful women out there by giving away a total of $1 million dollars. how can some $ help you or a woman you know right now? drop your $cashtag and use #WAPParty” Megan Thee Stallion on Twitter
Women can enter the giveaway by sharing how the money will help them or someone they know and the designated hashtag, people quickly shared their stories and screenshots of their new Cash App balances on Twitter. This campaign backs up the female empowerment message behind WAP in a tangible way for fans and critics.
It’s also worth noting the influence of rap music and female musicians to younger cohorts can be illustrated from a political perspective - Cardi B interviewed presidential candidate Joe Biden for Elle Magazine this week on a variety of issues, including the coronavirus pandemic, health care, higher education, racism and police brutality.
ONLYFANS: GROWING & NOT ALL PORN
Cardi B then made the internet explode all over again when she announced that she’s created an OnlyFans account: “Ok guys so now you can subscribe to my only fans! Yes I’ll be putting my BTS from WAP there ! And my day to day content. Also any rumors floating around.NO I WONT BE SHOWING P*SSY, T*TTIES AND A*S. LINK IN BIO...It will be a place for only me and my fans.”
You can read more in general about OnlyFans in a previous 52INSIGHTS here. What’s important to note now is that the app has surged during the pandemic. Despite the fact that celebrities like Cardi B are using the platform to make money for revealing more intimate sides of their lives (private moments they are choosing to share), for many young women, it’s serving as a fast-track to porn. Influencers, reality TV stars, YouTubers and TikTokers are all signing up looking for quick (and relatively easy) cash. But now, supply is starting to outstrip the demand and younger girls are creating more explicit content ‘more quickly for less money’. Read this Sunday Times piece for more.
- We’re not suggesting that you create a brand channel on OnlyFans and have your team perform the WAP dance (are we?)…but there’s a lot to take from this that can help you connect and understand youth online culture and conversation better. Even the name ‘WAP’ reflects how quickly shorthand codes and signals can take off online creating a language that is not easily translated for those out of the loop. This is a key way that young people are communicating in the digital realm. The language you use can be really powerful in driving conversation and cultural relevance.
- From the perspective of economics, health and education, young women have been widely cited as one of the hardest cohorts hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the context of the ongoing battle for gender equality, it’s fascinating to observe the WAP backlash and outrage. If young women are an audience you engage with, how could you approach empowering or supporting individuals or communities
- Sexuality is a rich area for cultural discussion and debate - and conversations specifically around female sexuality and pleasure only seem to be getting louder. Has the female pleasure renaissance arrived?