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 lately 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 Instances is commonly allowed to print.)

As a gynecologist, I’m used to dispelling all kinds of vaginal misinformation in the office and on-line, however the one delusion that’s the hardest to undo — and that I encounter usually with sufferers — is the concept that vaginal lubrication is “problematic.”

These ladies don’t have an itch or an odor. They don’t have ache with intercourse. They haven’t any symptom aside 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 ladies obtain from numerous sources — males, moms, associates, magazines and social media — all due to a system constructed and maintained (typically by these with out vaginas) that revolves across the tradition of the problematic, shameful and, sure, moist vagina.

Did a associate (normally male, as a result of I by no means hear this from ladies whose companions are ladies) 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, during which younger ladies posted pictures 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 beneficial by a good friend. The swab promoted on Instagram to wipe out the vagina after intercourse. The repeated articles in ladies’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 ladies who categorical concern in regards to the quantity of discharge — what’s “regular”? 1 to three milliliters in 24 hours, which is sort of a soaked panty liner — or their wetness with sexual arousal.

If vaginal lubrication have been celebrated, then feminine masturbation wouldn’t be taboo, and each ladies and men would be taught in intercourse schooling that the elevated blood stream 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 non-public failure. As a result of ladies are additionally shamed when they aren’t moist sufficient on the actual second the penis is prepared for intercourse.

To be a lady and to associate with males is to continuously 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 instructed me the journal the place she labored wanted no less than one “vagina gone unhealthy” article every week, that the search for vaginal mayhem consumed editorial conferences. What sells copy is the right way 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 nations 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.

Throughout the time of Hippocrates, and for hundreds of years afterward, ladies’s our bodies have been thought of bodily inferior to males. Based on this logic, one cause was ladies have been “wetter” than males. This was not associated to the vagina; slightly, ladies’s flesh was thought of free textured and spongy in order 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 as an overflow valve to make up for shoddy plumbing.

Many medical therapies for girls of the day revolved round guaranteeing common menstruation to forestall the harmful buildup of fluid in addition to holding the uterus in place because it may wander exerting stress on organs inflicting sickness. Many remedies have been vaginal, typically pessaries of herbs, oils or animal fat or fumigation of the uterus.

Right now’s influencers and different drugs aficionados prefer to exoticize these practices as historical knowledge, particularly fumigation, which is now known as vaginal steaming. However this apply would have been ineffective at greatest and it’s unclear within the rush to rejoice this apply as reclaimed misplaced information if anybody regarded 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 fully unknown on the time — leaving dryness or a sensation of dryness as a facet impact. It’s not a leap to assume the idea of vaginal well being and dryness grew to become synonymous, particularly given a core perception for the teachings that led to Western drugs was ladies’s our bodies have 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 typically conform to society, giving rise to so-called female hygiene measures that blurred dryness — the proxy for chastity — with well being and cleanliness.

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

The merchandise used are as various and artistic as they’re pervasive. A number of the extra frequent ones nonetheless in use embrace bleach, vinegar, lemon juice, oak galls, luggage of herbs, cleaning soap and water, or wiping internally with a fabric. Typically the specific objective is dry intercourse or tightness; different instances the overt reference to sexual purity has been misplaced, and the aim is solely pointless and dangerous upkeep. A quest for one thing entrepreneurs have known as freshness.

If a lady is moist she could also be, in response to this misinformation, the improper sort of moist. An “unclean” type.

It appears that evidently all over the place ladies flip there’s predatory messaging about vaginas, and far of it shares a standard mutation: the faulty 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. Previously six months I’ve seen two start-ups with so-called empowering however probably medically dangerous merchandise to wash vaginas — each led by ladies. And Instagram is full of ladies promoting quite a lot of pointless and damaging vaginal detoxes or selling accouterments for vaginal steaming.

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

The swap in vendor from Large 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 luggage of herbs to be left within the vagina for a number of days) is solely one other intertwining of tradition and drugs 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 search 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 probably 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 surprising show of confidence — and never simply sexual confidence — I used to be thrilled. Not simply to see the glory of “WAP” celebrated correctly, however as a result of now I’ve an precise cultural reference, a public celebration, to make use of whereas speaking with ladies.

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


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



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