Re-examining Objectification

Feona Attwood, Clarissa Smith, Alan McKee, John Mercer, Susanna Paasonen

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In 2020 Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s Summer hit WAP entered Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 1. The song’s unapologetically bawdy lyrics were amplified in an accompanying video which caused some critics to lose their minds. 'Wet Ass Pussy' had, one claimed, 'set the entire female gender back by 100 years' (Lorraine 2020). Another noted that the song had made him 'want to pour holy water in [his] ears' (Bradley 2020). Russell Brand asked whether WAP was a 'Feminist Masterpiece or Porn?' and, after musing on contemporary feminism, concluded 'It’s still ultimately a sort of capitalist objectification and commodification of, in this case, the female.' (Brand 2020).

There is no doubt that WAP is a great tune and the video is trippy, sexy and outrageous. But what interests us, and what fuels our discussion here, are the ways in which its reception revolved around the need to decide whether or not its performance was objectifying – had Cardi and Megan objectified themselves, had they pandered to objectifying stereotypes of female sexuality, had they offered themselves to the male gaze and, in so doing, had they let the [feminist] side down?
Original languageEnglish
JournalMAI: Feminism and Visual Culture
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Apr 2021


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