‘WAP’ And Sex Ed: How The Billboard-Topping Track Is ‘Making Conversations About Sexual Health Less Taboo’
‘WAP’ and Sex Ed: How the Billboard-Topping Track is ‘Making Conversations About Sexual Health Less Taboo’
The podcast "Sssh! Periods," created and produced by young women of color, is a work of art that explores a topic rarely discussed: menstruation. This podcast received attention and praise for its honesty and uniqueness. It became reminiscent of Cardi B’s and Megan Thee Stallion’s chart-topping song "WAP."
Raizel Febles, one of the creators, recalls, "I was a 14-year-old girl talking about my period. I intentionally wanted to make people uncomfortable, to make them question why they were uncomfortable discussing something so normal." This boldness and the open discussion of female sexuality in "WAP" struck a chord with Febles and many others.
Febles emphasizes that "WAP" is not discussing anything extraordinary. It simply talks about sex, a common activity in people’s lives. However, what sets it apart is the explicitness and frankness from a female perspective. This unique approach to sexuality and anatomy has even influenced the way sexual health is taught in classrooms.
Tanya Bass, a sexuality educator in North Carolina, shares her experience incorporating the lyrics of "WAP" into her college lessons. Despite the explicit nature of the song, it sparked important conversations among her students. The lyrics opened the door to discussions about sexual health topics such as contraception, condoms, and safety techniques.
While some young individuals find amusement in their parents’ reactions to "WAP," others engage in meaningful conversations with their older relatives. Febles believes that open dialogue is essential for learning and growth. She states, "You should be able to talk about sexuality without facing judgment. It is through listening and speaking with others that we learn and evolve."
The discussion spurred by "WAP" sheds light on the inadequacy of sexual education in many states. Currently, only a few mandate accurate sexual education programs, with even fewer emphasizing consent. However, progress is being made, as seen in Washington’s recent approval of comprehensive sex education. Implementation of inclusive and informative sexual education often faces resistance, highlighting the lingering taboo around pleasure and the human body.
Justine Fonte, a sexuality educator in New York City, emphasizes the lack of basic knowledge about bodies among students, including older ones. This lack of understanding calls for a more comprehensive approach to sexual education that addresses pleasure and its importance.
Overall, the podcast "Sssh! Periods" and the provocative song "WAP" have ignited important conversations about sexuality and sexual health. They challenge societal norms and advocate for more open and inclusive sexual education that emphasizes pleasure and consent.
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These misconceptions, even when acquired at a young age, can persist well into adulthood. In August, a gynecologist who grew weary of debunking myths about the notion that vaginal lubrication is "problematic" wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, expressing her support for "WAP" for lauding the normalcy of female anatomy.
Cassandra Corrado, a sex educator from Florida who works with college students and adults throughout the United States and Canada, has observed the impact of "WAP’s" message in her profession. Corrado mentioned, "People are incredibly confident, asserting ownership of their bodies, and it doesn’t matter who they choose to share it with. I see this reflected in my classroom."
As a specialist in sexual lubrication, when Corrado introduces herself during video sessions nowadays, the participants almost always respond by typing "WAP lol" or "WAP WAP WAP" in the chat. Given that she has long witnessed her students grappling with genital self-consciousness, she also appreciates the song’s promotion of body positivity.
"One thing that individuals with vaginas often feel self-conscious about is the appearance, smell, and taste of their genitals. So, when someone boldly declares, ‘I’m proud of how my vagina looks, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of,’ it really prompts people to question, ‘Why do I feel uncomfortable?’"
However, not everyone welcomes the message or the medium. Mary Ann Mosack, the CEO and president of Ascend, an organization based in Washington, D.C. that advocates for "sexual risk avoidance," opposes sex education curricula that address consent and pleasure. She applauded the Trump administration’s decision in 2018 to terminate funding for a federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention program.
"I would never entertain the idea of engaging in a serious discussion about the crucial topic of sex education for America’s youth using a song that is so degrading and vulgar," Mosack told .
‘A song of liberation’
According to Tanya Bass, the song not only addresses body politics but also racial politics. She perceives a particular power in the fact that Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, both women of color, are expressing a message of sexual confidence.
"There are narratives that Black women, women of color, constantly have to navigate, revise, and challenge for themselves or on behalf of others," Bass explained. "This is an opportunity to use this as a song of liberation and engage in those discussions."
Fonte, an educator based in New York, believes that the societal stereotypes surrounding women of color are one of the main reasons why the song sparked controversy.
"When people witness a confident, body-positive Black woman with curves, it rattles them," she noted. "They are more accustomed to scrutinizing and suppressing that particular body type rather than celebrating it."
Nationally, Black women experience higher rates of physical violence and psychological abuse compared to women from other racial backgrounds. Black girls are disproportionately disciplined in schools. These statistics reflect the dual disadvantage that Black women and women of color face due to their marginalized racial and gender identities, often referred to as "misogynoir."
Megan Thee Stallion, who herself was a victim of violence at the hands of a man earlier this year, recently wrote an op-ed in The New York Times discussing why she advocates for Black women.
Megan Thee Stallion, who has experienced violence at the hands of a man, has emerged as a strong advocate for Black women. (Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Febles, a long-time fan of Megan Thee Stallion who also shares Dominican ancestry with Cardi B, believes that WAP conveys a powerful message for women. "It’s incredibly empowering to witness women of color speaking out on these subjects."
Bass, a Black woman, agrees. "From an educator’s perspective, this song is all about the liberation of embracing and celebrating yourself as someone who is attractive and desirable. It’s like saying, ‘I love my lips. I love my legs.’"
"It’s an anthem that boosts self-esteem."
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