When Cardi B’s song “WAP” came out in 2020 the media was unhappy. The public thought Cardi B’s song was completely criminal and should have never been allowed to be released because of its explicit content. News outlets like Fox News called Cardi B a “bad role model for children, promoting the sexualization of women.” Tucker Carlson, a prominent Fox News reporter, even said that Cardi B was intentionally trying to “degrade our culture.” Not only did Fox News show their displeasure but millions of parents took to Facebook writing about how this song should not be around and the negative effects it has on children. This was a never before seen kind of outrage over a single song. This is ironic however, considering the songs of the past that have been on the top charts.
In 2006, Eminem’s song titled, “Shake That” went #1 on the Billboard charts. A verse in the popular song reads, “I’m a menace, a dentist, an oral hygienist, Open your mouth for about four or five minutes, Take a little bit of this fluoride rinse, Swish but don’t spit it, swallow it now finish.” Though this song topped the charts there were no Facebook forums or Fox News articles of raging parents going on about how this song is destroying culture.
So what was the difference between these explicit songs and the outrage they caused? Their content is the same in explicit nature, the only difference being who sings the song. Emineme is a white man while Cardi B is a woman of color. Could this be the reason for the large disparity in the public’s reaction? The previously mentioned lyrics from Eminem’s hit song is only one example of countless songs sung by men that sexualize women. Cardi B’s song “WAP” was not a revolutionary song nor was it the naughtiest song to top charts yet because she is a woman singing about such topics she received extensive backlash. Cardi B was sexualizing herself in a way that made her feel empowered and this was seen as something criminal.
Why is it okay for men to sexualize women but the moment a woman reclaims this sexualization, it’s considered detrimental to society? Outdated and sexist ideals of how a woman should act are largely to blame for this disparity. Men are applauded for their desires they write about in songs while women are crucified for their self expression and empowering views. Cardi B’s song is encouraging women to not follow traditional values and because of this it makes the public uncomfortable and was the reason for the backlash.