You know the part in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman nearly dies but then John Travolta gives her a shot of adrenaline to the heart and she wakes up gasping and screaming? This barely approximates my reaction to “WAP,” the new song from Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, which dropped on Friday and woke me from months of pandemic-induced depressive pseudo-slumber. I am not afraid to declare that this song is freaking perfect. Lyrically, it is Shakespeare by way of Pornhub — an evocative, comedic tour de force, an enviable mastery of both tone and form. Sonically, it is the very embodiment of filthy, delirious joy, a paean to loving your vagina so much that you must dance about it with friends and tigers in a shallow indoor pool.
This weekend, as I listened to “WAP” 400 times and evangelized about it to anyone who would listen, including those in my immediate biological family, I also watched it become a vessel for the banal, performative rage of sad and horny Republicans. After conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted that his “doctor wife” had diagnosed a WAP as a dangerous medical condition, it occurred to me that it might be fun to speak to an actual medical expert in WAPs, both to weigh in on the truly idiotic discourse and to get her unique take on the song’s important message (that WAPS are great). So I reached out to Dr. Lauren Streicher — medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause and author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever, and also my mom’s boss — to ask about her impressions of the song, its accuracy in reflecting WAP culture, whether Shapiro’s doctor wife should have her license revoked, and whether we should be concerned about hitting that little dangly thing that swings in the back of our throats.
So what did you think of the song?
Certainly, as a gynecologist, we all know that vaginal lubrication is a good and healthy thing. It means your body is responding in the way it’s supposed to be responding. And it’s as matter-of-fact as a guy talking about getting an erection. When we talk about arousal, that’s what happens to men, and this is what happens to women. From a gynecologic point of view, this is just talking about normal physiology, normal response. And what’s so unusual about it, of course, is that “nice” women don’t talk about this. Men are constantly bragging about how hard their dicks are and how long they are, but women don’t get to brag about how wet they are. When it really is actually the same thing, saying, “I’m a sexy woman, and I’m responding and this is my response, just like you have your response!” I don’t find it offensive, but it’s also not that interesting, frankly. It’s just another day at the office. It was kind of catchy.
I want to run some of the specific lyrics by you to see if they feel evocative and true. What did you think of “macaroni in the pot” as a descriptor for a wet vagina?
“Macaroni in the pot.” I don’t know. I think the idea of something being really slippery … I spend a lot of time in my writing using that kind of visualization to describe things, and it’s funny because I use food a lot when I talk about the body. I just finished writing a thing about the intestines being like spaghetti and your ovaries being like meatballs. I like the idea, but I think it’s kind of a false equivalency to say it’s like macaroni in the pot. I don’t know if that’s what I would use. I’d go with “juicy peach,” which is something you see a lot more of. It’s more the idea of something juicy, as opposed to slippery macaroni. As somebody who looks at a lot of vaginas, that visualization has never entered my head.
Can you explain more about the peach analogy?
Something juicy — there’s moisture, glistening. Those are the kinds of words that we use. I’ll say to someone, “Your tissue looks very healthy and moist, and there’s some nice glistening there, which is what we want to see.” That’s what you’d see in a juicy peach, as opposed to buttery macaroni. I don’t know. I’m thinking of worms. [Laughs] It’s not a good visual for me.
I do want to talk about the idea of health. There’s been a bit of “dry vagina” backlash online, where people accuse Cardi and Meg of shaming women for not having WAPs. Did you read it that way?
I didn’t read it as shaming. We have a whole spectrum here. There are a lot of women who have a lot of moisture and lubrication, and others not so much. It’s all normal as long as someone is able to have pain-free intercourse when they choose to. I don’t look at it as shaming — if it’s too wet, you’re shaming someone; if it’s too dry, you’re shaming someone else? Well, these women get very aroused, and they have a lot of wetness! Okay! They’re not shaming the women that don’t. Do you read it that way?
They’re talking about their own experience. And, if anything, they’re normalizing the fact that “Hey, ladies, this is something that happens, and this is normal.” This wasn’t about squirting, but there are a lot of women who squirt when they have an orgasm. And there’s this whole thing about “I’m so embarrassed, and what are people gonna think?” It’s about recognizing a spectrum of normal that has nothing to do with shaming someone who doesn’t fit within the description that someone is giving of their experience.
It’s a singular experience. They’re not speaking for all women.
Right. They’re not saying, “If you don’t have a wet vagina, there’s something wrong with you.” They’re saying, “This is my experience.” And that’s fine. That’s great. Because there are a lot of women who come into the clinic all the time, saying, “I have an abnormal discharge.” We’ll sit with them and go through the list — the color, blah blah blah. And basically, they’re completely normal. And our job is to tell them, “No. What you’re experiencing is healthy and normal. You have this perception that you shouldn’t have wetness or any discharge.” And that’s why we spend time talking about what’s normal and what’s not. We talk about “perceived” abnormal discharge versus actual abnormal discharge. Because this whole god-awful feminine-hygiene industry has popped up telling everyone your vagina is supposed to smell like an English garden, and not have any stains on your underwear, or there’s something wrong with you! Talk about shaming! The whole feminine-hygiene industry is shaming women. This isn’t shaming. This is expressing their experience of normal.
Speaking of which, Ben Shapiro tweeted that his “doctor wife” said a WAP indicates bacterial vaginosis, among other things. What do you make of that?
The problem with what he’s saying is that there’s a difference between someone saying, “I have an abnormal discharge, I have a huge volume of moisture all the time.” These women are saying they’re sexually aroused! So they get very wet. That’s normal. That’s the flaw in his reasoning. To be wet when you’re aroused is normal.
Over the years, as songs like this have become more a part of the dominant culture, are you seeing less shame around women talking about these sorts of things in your office, this idea of women’s sexual arousal?
It’s hard to say. We have a really skewed population; the women that come to us are coming because of problems. It’s not a general gynecologic center. So I’d say there’s more willingness to talk about what’s normal and what’s not. But people come to us ready and willing to talk about all of this stuff. But we also normalize it by asking about it when they walk in the door. We normalize it too. But I think it depends on which population you’re talking to. Certainly, in your home, which is very much like my home, we talk about this stuff all the time and don’t think twice about it. But walk into an Evangelical home and it might be a little different.
What do you think of the song?
I love it. I think it’s really funny and clever and irreverent. And the video is a delight.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed watching the video. There is a tongue-in-cheek-ness about it. They’re having fun with it. And the lack of shame is so refreshing. And I think this is one that people are going to respond to, both men and women. And I hope that’s what they were going for. That women say, “Yep, that’s me!” And men are saying, “Damn! Okay.”
At one point, Cardi B says, “I do a kegel while it’s inside.” But it’s my understanding that not every woman should be doing kegels, that we’ve been sold a false bill of goods about everyone needing to do kegels — for some women, it’ll exacerbate some conditions rather than help. How do you feel about this line as general wisdom?
I think it’s okay because she’s not really doing a kegel. She’s sitting there squeezing. She’s contracting to give herself pleasure and to give him pleasure. What I was thinking when I heard that was, I’m an active participant. I’m not just a vessel. The reason you’re having such a good time, sir, is because I am squeezing your dick.
What did you think when she says, “I want you to park your big Mack truck right in this little garage”? Is there any danger involved in that sort of size differential?
Some women worry that their vaginas are too big. And again, I don’t think they mean to be vagina shaming. I think they’re just trying to say, “I’m enjoying this too” and “Come on in!” But if women have a partner that’s larger than what they’re used to, we tell them, “The vagina is amazing in what it can accommodate, including a nine-pound baby. So if you’re unable to accommodate this [penis], it doesn’t mean you’re too small; it just means this person is bigger than what you’ve had to accommodate before.” Sometimes the vagina panics, and it goes, “You’re not coming in here!” And the muscle contracts. So we do a lot of dilator therapy. A lot of people think it’s to stretch out the vagina, the tissue. It’s not. It gets the pelvic-floor muscles to relax. My point being, someone might have a situation where they think, Oh my God, it’s too big, it’s not gonna fit, and that’s something that we can certainly fix.
When she raps about “touch that lil’ dangly thing that swing in the back of my throat” — is that medically advisable?
As long as she can breathe. Problem is if his balls are obstructing her nose. That could be dangerous. But no, it’s not dangerous. Just listen to your body. If it’s uncomfortable and you can’t breathe, then let them know and push them off. But in general, no. Not dangerous. I think also, in most cases — remember Deep Throat? That’s what it reminded me of. Most people on the receiving end of oral sex, with a [partner’s] big penis, it’s not going in that deep. But if it does, it’s not like something terrible is gonna happen.
What do you think about the Republican politicians who’ve decided to weigh in on this song?
I think they need to get a life. I feel the same way about them getting involved in reproductive rights or anything else having to do with someone’s uterus or bedroom. This isn’t political.
Will you listen to the song again?
I might. I might. I really liked the video. I thought it was very funny and very well done. Very well produced. Whoever produced it really did a fine job.
Will it be your office theme song?
It could be. We have another theme song: When we opened, we had a Sex Rx band, and my husband wrote a song for us. I’ll share it with you.
Maybe you can just have the video playing in the lobby as patients wait to be seen.
Hmm. Northwestern wouldn’t go for that. They won’t even let me sell lubricant or sex toys.