In the month since Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion absolutely decimated the Grammys stage with their performance of “WAP,” you may have felt things were a little too quiet, almost as if two artists and women of color can freely express agency of their own sexuality in public. Don’t worry—the Federal Communications Commission is here to assure us that things have not changed very much since Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl from 17 years ago. In fact, according to Rolling Stone, the FCC says it received over 1,000 email complaints about Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s performance; by comparison, the agency received 47 pages of complaints about Beyoncé’s performance at the 2016 Super Bowl.
While it’s tempting to envision Ben Shapiro creating 1,000 fake email addresses to whine about female sexuality, the complaints came from your garden variety of pearl-clutching, regressive narcs. Rolling Stone combed through the complaints, many of which used derogatory language to slut-shame Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion (whose name is repeatedly misspelled, of course) and question the morality of allowing two women to exercise their sexual agency in a musical performance on television. “Think of the children!” is a recurring sentiment, and one often used by conservatives in bad faith in these arguments because what kind of asshole would question the best interests of children?! Some complaints drew wild comparisons to the recent decision to discontinue the publishing of certain Dr. Seuss books, which feature racially offensive imagery, as well as Hasbro’s announcement that the Mr. Potato Head toys will now simply be “Potato Head” in an effort to be more inclusive and gender neutral.
Here’s an email from one viewer, who opens the complaint by outing themselves as a total narc who spends their free time intentionally seeking out ways to be personally offended:
“I wish to file a formal complaint against the televised grammy awards 2021. Although I did not watch the entire event, I just happened to tune in just to see if the mc’s, performers, etc. are still spewing any off colored and/or political jokes and I just happened switch my channel and was stunned to see the Cardi B/Megan, etc. etc. etc. display. This is really something for women (note: This is Women in History Month) and girls to aspire to. You have got to be kidding me. This was a disgusting display of nothing more than sluts being sluts. Is this going to continue? If so, I certainly want to know who to contact to file a lawsuit against the performers, the network, and any and all persons, corporations, etc who either directly or indirectly participated in this display of pornography. If you do not do anything about this, I will need to seek legal advice regarding any action I may take against you.”
While the idea of this person spending time and money trying to sue these extremely successful and wealthy women is certainly hilarious, the real gem is when they ask “Is this going to continue?” Uh, YEAH. Public displays of female sexual agency will continue until the morale of the patriarchy improves. Deal with it. (Smiley face with sunglasses emoji.)
Another typo-riddled complaint was received from a massage therapist “with deep respect for the human body,” who found the performance offensive for its “objectification” of women—and, using the digital equivalent of red yarn, somehow linked the whole thing to domestic violence and human trafficking:
“I felt violated with Meghan Stallion & Cardi B’s performance. I am pro sex-positivity abnd body positivity but this performance crossed the line into pornography. Many kids still awake at that time, and even non-consenting adults were unexpectedly staring at pure objectification of women at its finest. Not to mention Trevor Noah’s drooling, sweating, screaming wrap up like he was at a strip club. I am a massage therapist with deep respect for the human body who found myself crying myself to sleep wondering how this could be allowed on television. And how far this will go next year and the years after that. Art and objectification are opposite sides of the coin. Objectification perpetuates violence against women, maintaining the ripple effect that causes domestic violence, human trafficking, encouraging the consumption of women and then the disposal of them. I’ve watched the Grammys every year since I was 5 years old. It gave me something to strive for as a musician. As a female, I will never again view this program due to the allowance of this performance. since 1980″ [SIC]
For a self-described female musician heavily implying some level of cultural awareness (she’s watched the Grammys since 1980?), it’s a bit Out There for her to behave as if the sexual objectification of women—which this performance was not—is anything new in a society that is still deeply misogynistic, as evidenced by the 1,000-plus complaints received by the FCC, this one included.