The Glory (and the Taboo) of ‘WAP’

The Glory (and the Taboo) of ‘WAP’

I used to be thrilled to take heed to and watch “WAP,” Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion’s not too long ago launched homage to feminine sexuality and vaginal, let’s consider, lubrication. (I like to recommend Googling what the acronym stands for, as a result of it’s not one thing The New York Occasions is usually allowed to print.)

As a gynecologist, I’m used to dispelling every kind of vaginal misinformation within the workplace and on-line, however the one delusion that’s the hardest to undo — and that I encounter repeatedly with sufferers — is the concept vaginal lubrication is “problematic.”

These girls don’t have an itch or an odor. They don’t have ache with intercourse. They haven’t any symptom apart from their concern in regards to the quantity of their vaginal discharge or that they’re overly lubricated throughout intercourse. Or each.

I do know the cruelty and damaging messages these girls obtain from numerous sources — males, moms, associates, magazines and social media — all due to a system constructed and maintained (usually by these with out vaginas) that revolves across the tradition of the problematic, shameful and, sure, moist vagina.

Did a companion (normally male, as a result of I by no means hear this from girls whose companions are girls) complain in regards to the moist spot? Get grossed out by white secretions on his penis? Say he “couldn’t really feel something?” Blame his misplaced erection or untimely ejaculation in your lubrication?

Or maybe it was the underwear problem on social media, through which younger girls posted photographs of their underwear on social media to brag about their dryness and lack of discharge as a supposed signal of well being and cleanliness. The douche advisable by a pal. The swab promoted on Instagram to wipe out the vagina after intercourse. The repeated articles in girls’s magazines in regards to the delusion of consuming pineapple to make oral intercourse sweeter. (And sure, it’s a delusion. It’s a vagina, not a piña colada.)

Considerations about vaginal lubrication aren’t simply restricted to girls who specific concern in regards to the quantity of discharge — what’s “regular”? 1 to three milliliters in 24 hours, which is nearly a soaked a panty liner — or their wetness with sexual arousal.

If vaginal lubrication had been celebrated, then feminine masturbation wouldn’t be taboo, and each ladies and men would be taught in intercourse training that the elevated blood movement to the vaginal tissues permits fluid to leak throughout the cells, leading to an extra three to five milliliters of lubrication.

Women and men would additionally know that needing or liking lubricant isn’t an indication of private failure. As a result of girls are additionally shamed when they aren’t moist sufficient on the actual second the penis is prepared for intercourse.

To be a girl and to companion with males is to continually stroll the sting of the knife between too moist and too dry. Gush on command, however not an excessive amount of as a result of you then’re promiscuous or gross or each.

An editor as soon as informed me the journal the place she labored wanted at the least one “vagina gone unhealthy” article every week, that the hunt for vaginal mayhem consumed editorial conferences. What sells copy is easy methods to repair vaginas … that males really feel are damaged.

Nobody ever says that final half out loud.

The concern of vaginal wetness crosses cultures and religions and international locations and eras. And it’s not simply seen in direct shaming about lubrication. Each so-called vaginal hygiene measure can hint its lineage to the problematic moist vagina and different misinformation in regards to the reproductive tract.

In the course of the time of Hippocrates, and for hundreds of years afterward, girls’s our bodies had been thought of bodily inferior to males. In accordance with this logic, one purpose was girls had been “wetter” than males. This was not associated to the vagina; somewhat, girls’s flesh was thought of free textured and spongy so that they absorbed extra fluid from their meals and have become too moist.

The proof? Menstrual blood was extra fluid that the feminine physique was unable to course of “usually,” like males, so the uterus functioned an overflow valve to make up for shoddy plumbing.

Many medical therapies for ladies of the day revolved round guaranteeing common menstruation to forestall the harmful buildup of fluid in addition to retaining the uterus in place because it might wander exerting strain on organs inflicting sickness. Many therapies had been vaginal, usually pessaries of herbs, oils or animal fat or fumigation of the uterus.

At the moment’s influencers and different medication aficionados prefer to exoticize these practices as historical knowledge, particularly fumigation, which is now referred to as vaginal steaming. However this observe would have been ineffective at finest and it’s unclear within the rush to rejoice this observe as reclaimed misplaced data if anybody appeared on the precise recipes (I’ll spare you, however they are often horrific).

Most, if not all, of those historical vaginal therapies would have broken the vaginal ecosystem — an idea utterly unknown on the time — leaving dryness or a sensation of dryness as a aspect impact. It’s not a leap to assume the idea of vaginal well being and dryness turned synonymous, particularly given a core perception for the teachings that led to Western medication was girls’s our bodies had been too moist.

Vaginal wetness, particularly throughout intercourse, has lengthy been erroneously thought of an indication of earlier sexual exercise, which means promiscuity. Medical beliefs and practices usually conform to society, giving rise to so-called female hygiene measures that blurred dryness — the proxy for chastity — with well being and cleanliness.

Nearly each single female hygiene product will dry the vagina to a point. So nice is the bodily harm that many enhance the chance of some sexually transmitted infections (S.T.I.s) if uncovered. Dryness additionally reduces sexual enjoyment for ladies, primarily turning them into receptacles for male pleasure; actually, dryness could make intercourse uncomfortable to painful for each companions, however particularly the girl.

The merchandise used are as numerous and inventive as they’re pervasive. A number of the extra widespread ones nonetheless in use embody bleach, vinegar, lemon juice, oak galls, baggage of herbs, cleaning soap and water, or wiping internally with a material. Typically the specific purpose is dry intercourse or tightness; different occasions the overt reference to sexual purity has been misplaced, and the aim is just pointless and dangerous upkeep. A quest for one thing entrepreneurs have referred to as freshness.

If a girl is moist she could also be, in accordance with this misinformation, the incorrect sort of moist. An “unclean” variety.

It appears that evidently in all places girls flip there may be predatory messaging about vaginas, and far of it shares a typical mutation: the inaccurate perception that vaginas are problematic and essentially the most harmful vagina of all is moist.

Many ladies all over the world be taught these practices from their moms, sisters and girlfriends. Prior to now six months I’ve seen two start-ups with so-called empowering however doubtless medically dangerous merchandise to wash vaginas — each led by girls. And Instagram is stuffed with girls promoting a wide range of pointless and damaging vaginal detoxes or selling accouterments for vaginal steaming.

Having girls perpetuate the misunderstanding {that a} so-called clear vagina is a wholesome vagina is the final word subversion of feminism.

The change in vendor from Huge Female Hygiene (corporations that mass produce douches, sprays or wipes) to Little Female Hygiene (numerous start-ups or makers of vaginal detox “pearls,” that are baggage of herbs to be left within the vagina for a number of days), is just one other intertwining of tradition and medication to manage the vagina on the expense of the well being of girls.

The cultural affect of faith or the significance of sexual purity has now been changed by the hunt for purity via so-called pure merchandise — conveniently neglecting that the vagina in its pure state is self-cleaning and the mechanism for that’s wetness. To say a vagina wants cleansing is maybe essentially the most unnatural assertion of all.

In order I watched Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion reward a moist and gushy vagina in a shocking show of confidence — and never simply sexual confidence — I used to be thrilled. Not simply to see the glory of “WAP” celebrated appropriately, however as a result of now I’ve an precise cultural reference, a public celebration, to make use of whereas speaking with girls.

I don’t assume “WAP” goes to smash the patriarchy, substitute intercourse training or finish predatory female hygiene practices, however speaking about it’s an empowering subsequent step.


Dr. Jen Gunter is an obstetrician and gynecologist working towards in California. She writes The Cycle, a column on girls’s well being that seems repeatedly in Kinds. She can also be the writer of “The Vagina Bible.”

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