If last year was Hot Girl Summer, 2020 is the summer of pussy.
Not just any pussy — pussy that’s dripping wet and wanting. Pussy that serves its owner and no one else. Unruly pussy.
It’s “WAP,” but it’s not only “WAP.” It’s also “Pussy Talk” by City Girls, with close-ups of crotches. And it’s young women on TikTok — from nobodies to verified stars — gleefully lip-synching to the words “I got that good pussy” along to ppcocaine’s “For That Cash.”
We’ve been on our way here for a while, reaching back to ’90s women-led rap and even two years ago when Tessa Thompson joyfully popped her head out from between Janelle Monáe’s labia pants in the video for “Pynk.” Finally, pussy is getting its due.
I used to really hate the word “pussy.” Like, in any context. Whether to literally describe mine or a partner’s vagina and vulva combo, or genitals more generally, or especially as an insult. It just sounds crude. The kind of word some idiotic teen boy would use when trying to feel like a big, bad man around his equally idiotic friends.
“Vagina” just sounds too clinical so I took to just beating around the bush, even in the absence of actual bush. You can really get away with a lot by just saying “you” or “there” or “me.” People get it, you know? Context clues can go a long way. And hey, it’s not like I stooped to something as juvenile as “va-jay-jay” or as awful as being a white lady who says “yoni.” And no, it’s not fair that these are our only options, but I did my best to work with what I had.
But I was wrong, I was silly, and I was denying myself the absolute pleasure of reveling in a word like “pussy.” “Pussy” is fun. “Pussy” is squishy and plump and plush and wet. “Pussy” is a word ideally said with moist lips as you purse them for that initial “p” then linger for a moment in the hiss of those S’s. “Pussy” is a beautiful word for every reason I was afraid of it. It’s not proper and private the way “vagina” is. It has presence, it demands attention, and it refuses to be neat. You can’t tuck away a pussy.
“Pussy” doesn’t just describe what we think of as female genitalia — it describes something unruly, and unruly pussy is having a moment. The phrase “wet-ass pussy” is stuck in everyone’s heads thanks to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, but it didn’t start with them.
“Pussy” is a word ideally said with moist lips as you purse them for that initial “p” then linger for a moment in the hiss of those S’s.
Rather than the hush-hush attitude society has traditionally reserved for any discussion of female anatomy and its relationship to pleasure, we’re now talking about wet pussies. Fat pussies. Labia that can’t be contained by whatever scant strip of lace Victoria’s Secret has on offer. We’re talking about FUPAs (that is, the fat upper-pussy area) with love and tenderness. It’s in music, it’s on TikTok, and it is — importantly! — coming out of the mouths of people who actually have vaginas.
This is all very exciting because traditionally pussies are supposed to be polite. That is, small, tight, and with labia that neatly tucks away like a little bit of origami. They can get wet, but only wet enough for the comfort of a penis. Clits are meant to be present but also not large, and certainly not tucked away in folds so they require actual effort to locate. The mons pubis should be a flat plane right from belly button to clit hood. And, importantly, they’re all attached to white bodies and come only in shades of blush, bubblegum, and baby pink.
Anyone who’s seen a vulva or two in the wild would know that’s all bullshit. Or, at least, you would hope so.
So back to “WAP.” Perhaps the funniest response to it, amid a sea of pearl-clutching from cis men, was from right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro. After a dramatic reading of the lyrics, he tweeted that, according to his doctor wife, any woman that needed a “bucket and a mop” for their pussy had “bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, or trichomonis.”
He surely knows Cardi and Megan didn’t mean the line literally. But clearly he finds the image of a sopping wet pussy to be obscene. And that’s probably because vaginal secretion, a thing that comes so naturally your pussy is probably secreting stuff right now, is still taboo. As Jen Gunter, a gynecologist and author of The Vagina Bible, recently wrote for the New York Times: “Vaginal wetness, especially during sex, has long been erroneously considered a sign of previous sexual activity, which implies promiscuity.”
And yet “To be a woman and to partner with men is to constantly walk the edge of the knife between too wet and too dry,” Gunter wrote. “Gush on command, but not too much because then you’re promiscuous or gross or both.”
And that’s why “WAP” is so important. Cardi and Megan shot straight past normal vaginal lubrication (which, by the way, varies a whole bunch — that’s why you can buy lube!) to gushing. As in, “It's goin' in dry and it's comin' out soggy” and “I'm talkin' wap, wap, wap, that's some wet-ass pussy.” Even the radio-friendly version lyrics, “wet and gushy,” are perfect. When the hell have vagina owners ever gotten to celebrate being not just adequately moist, but gushy?
“WAP” isn’t the first song about pussy — not by a long shot. Black women rappers have been getting poetic about their vaginas for decades. Remember Khia’s “My Neck, My Back”?
“I don’t get the controversy hype because I’m almost 40, and I grew up with Trina and Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown and Missy rapping and talking about their sexuality,” said Dirty Lola, a sex educator and sex toy seller I spoke to about this moment of unruly pussy. “We’ve been doing this before.”
She said Black women, in particular, have led pussy music because many Black girls are told from childhood to be ashamed of their bodies and their sexuality.
When the hell have vagina owners ever gotten to celebrate being not just adequately moist, but gushy?
“It’s rebellion. We grow up being told that you have to be a lady, to put on shorts when you’re a little girl around men,” said Lola. “Everyone knows that uncle to keep you away from, but nobody does anything about that uncle. Like, look at R. Kelly.”
Black women, she said, also get fetishized and hypersexualized in a way other women don’t. Through music, Black women can fight back against those messages by reclaiming their sexuality while also saying “this doesn’t mean you get to hurt us or treat us poorly because we are sexual beings,” she said.
“WAP” still hits different, though. Maybe it’s pandemic boredom, or the relative fame of the women who created it, or the fact that we’ve come far enough that “WAP” isn’t being so censored that you can’t hear it at all.
But it’s also that we’re in a particular time and place when it comes to how we talk about our bodies. Body-positive, fat-positive, and sex-positive movements, which have also relied on the work of Black women, have brought us to a place where we can give a hearty fuck-you to pussy ideals that would put us in tiny, pink boxes.
Over on TikTok, I’ve noticed a trend of Gen Z’ers with vaginas talking not just about pussy generally, but about how their pussies don’t fit the traditional standard.
There’s a viral TikTok of a woman saying, “So y’all trying to tell me that my coochie can fit in that? My coochie lips — both of ‘em. I’ve got two of them now. Both of them are going to fit in that? I don’t think so.” Behind her is a picture of Blac Chyna wearing a very, very high-cut bathing suit that covers her vulva with nothing but a small strip. Whether due to Photoshop or luck-of-the-draw anatomy, there’s no visible labia, hair, or mons pubis.
People have been taking the audio and using it to show off other feats of vagina-adjacent apparel, like a thong with a string of pearls for the crotch, or just Victoria’s Secret’s general offerings.
“I remember feeling I was because I’m fat, I don’t deserve pretty underwear,” said Lola. “Nobody ever said these aren’t panties for you. We just felt bad about our bodies.”
And it’s not just the pussy itself — I’ve also seen TikToks celebrating the FUPA, of which I am also a proud owner. A “FUPA” is supposed to be a bad thing, an insult for an area that very naturally accumulates fat. It is a part of my body that I still take pains to cover, as if the right combination of fabric will make it disappear. It’s why I don’t own any pencil skirts and why I’m terrified of high-waisted jeans.
But as TikTok user @cut.cake says, people know it’s there. You can’t hide it.
“I say wear that FUPA with pride. Tuck that T-shirt in. Wear that crop top. Wear that tight skirt. Give the fuckers something to look at.”
There’s also a whole category of TikToks that show people not only accepting their FUPAs, but enjoying them. Slowly pulling up and zipping their jeans over their glorious mound with pride. Maybe I’ve just been looking at all the wrong things, but why did it take until my thirties for someone to tell me I could like my FUPA?
Clearly something has changed if young people are reaching adulthood knowing that it’s okay if their vulvas aren’t porn-star perfect.
This too has been a work in progress as we reclaim our FUPAs. Back in 2018, Beyoncé talked to Vogue about her post-baby body, saying, “But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be." While a lot of our FUPAs are neither little nor temporary nor about to be blasted away by hard-core dieting and exercise, I appreciate the sentiment all the same. Still, though, if you google “FUPA,” you’re either going to get said Beyoncé interview or exercise guides to get rid of a FUPA. Again, it’s a work in progress.
If anything is different right now, in this time, it’s that it feels like we’re moving from merely accepting our unruly pussies to celebrating them. To actually enjoying having inner labia that don’t stay in, or getting so wet that it gets all over the sheets, or having lips that flush a purple-brown instead of pink.
Look, 2020 has been a big ol’ garbage fire, but if we come out of this year being able to talk about our big, juicy, untamable pussies, at least that will be something. ●