The WAP uproar shows conservatives are fine with female sexuality – as long as men control it | Arwa Mahdawi

The same conservatives who dismiss Trump’s ‘pussy-grabbing’ comments want women to think that it’s immoral to enjoy themselves

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Ben Shapiro DESTROYS himself in bizarre self-own

Uh oh, it looks like Ben Shapiro has been triggered. The rightwing troll, who many conservatives seem to regard as one of the leading public intellectuals of our time, had a meltdown this week over the contents of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s new hit single WAP. You can watch the self-proclaimed free speech advocate sanctimoniously squeal over the song lyrics here; I warn you, however, that the secondhand embarrassment might make you cringe so hard your face permanently changes shape.

As Shapiro helpfully explains in his video, WAP is an acronym for “Wet-ass P-word, P-word is female genitalia.” The song, which has become the first-ever female rap collaboration to reach number one on Spotify, is an unabashed celebration of female sexuality. Specifically, it celebrates the vagina and its advanced Self-Lubricating Technology™, which is activated by sexual arousal.

Vagina lubrication isn’t gross or vulgar or risqué – it’s just a basic biological process. Shapiro, alas, doesn’t seem particularly well acquainted with female anatomy or the concept of hyperbole. After being mocked online for his WAP rant he tweeted: “[M]y only real concern is that the women involved – who apparently require a “bucket and a mop’ – get the medical care they require. My doctor wife’s differential diagnosis: bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, or trichomonis.”

Oh dear. I don’t think that quipping “vaginal wetness is a medical condition!” is quite the “gotcha” you think it is, Ben.

There is nothing particularly notable about Shapiro making a fool of himself; he does it a lot. However, this latest WAPisode is a reminder of how little the men who seek to regulate and police women’s reproductive rights (Shapiro is extremely anti-abortion) know about women’s bodies. Last year, for example, Ohio legislators introduced a bill requiring doctors to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus – which is medically impossible – or face charges of “abortion murder.” And who can forget the anti-abortion Idaho Republican who wondered whether women could swallow tiny cameras for remote gynecological exams? No, a doctor told him: when you swallow something it doesn’t end up in your vagina. “Fascinating,” the lawmaker replied.

Shapiro is far from the only conservative clutching his pearls over WAP. Republican congressional candidate James P Bradley is also enraged about the song which he says he “heard accidentally” and which makes him want to “pour holy water” in his ears. The reaction has amused Cardi B, who tweeted: “I can’t believe conservatives soo mad about WAP.”

I can certainly believe it. There’s something about women (black women to boot!) taking charge of their sexuality that drives conservatives up the wall. The same people who dismiss Donald Trump’s “pussy-grabbing” comments as just “locker-room talk” want women to think that it’s immoral to enjoy themselves.

It’s not just conservatives who stigmatize female sexuality: double standards are everywhere. A couple of years ago the New York subway rejected ads by female-owned women’s sexual health company Unbound for being too sexual – even though they didn’t feature any nudity or mention the word “sex”. THINX, the period underwear company, also had trouble getting their ads approved: shockingly these featured pictures of grapefruits as visual metaphors for the vagina.

You know who didn’t have any trouble advertising their business? Hims and Ro (formerly called Roman), two erectile dysfunction medication brands. Their ads, which talked explicitly about erectile dysfunction and featured large hard cacti and eggplants as playful visual metaphors for penises, went up with no problem. They were also allowed to advertise on Facebook; indeed, the social media company uses Ro as a best-in-case example of Facebook advertising. Meanwhile, Unbound and other female-focused sex-tech startups have said that the social media giants have banned them from running ads, which has prevented them from growing their business.

It’s worth nothing that Ro, whose three founders are men, was recently valued at $1.5bn, and has expanded into women’s sexual health. It now sells vaginal lubricants. Yet another reminder that the world has absolutely no problem with female sexuality – just as long as men are in charge of regulating it and profiting from it.

Bias in medicine is making women sick

Women are more likely to be overmedicated and suffer adverse side-effects from medication because drug dosages are based on male-dominated clinical trials, a new study has found. Women were excluded from clinic drug trials for decades because of concerns that all those hormones raging around women’s bodies made them difficult to study. Men’s bodies, of course, are far more calm and rational.

Women are all thighs, men are all thumbs

An analysis of 2000 books, ranging from Pulitzer-winners to pulp fiction, found that women are more likely to be defined by physical traits like their hair, waist, and thighs than men. Descriptions of men are more likely to contain references to their backs, thumb, knuckles, and feet.

Donald Trump calls Kamala Harris a ‘nasty woman’

Utterly predictable.

Women are at the forefronts of Belarus protests

Flower-bearing women are taking to the streets of Minsk to protest a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Middlemarch by Mary Ann Evans to hit bookshelves

The Reclaim Her Name project is reissuing historic works by women whose writing has only been in print under their male pseudonyms – including ‘George Eliot’s’ Middlemarch.

The week in piggyarchy

The London Zoo is now home to two hairless babirusas, sometimes called “demon pigs” or the “ugliest pigs on earth.” According to a zookeeper, they got this rather nasty nickname because of their long tusks, which are “actually teeth growing through their noses that curl backwards”. How metal is that?


Arwa Mahdawi

The GuardianTramp

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