False dichotomies and double standards get us nowhere.
It’s no secret that Cupcakke is a controversial artist due to the sexually explicit content in her songs, and this kind of content makes many uncomfortable. Some people are therefore disappointed that Cupcakke will be performing during Spring Fling this year. However, to me, and to so many other Yalies, this very performance will prove come April that we have progressed immensely as a campus and in the larger context of society.
The first double standard against Cupcakke that I want to point out is that the same people who have publicly come out against her have turned a blind eye to A$AP Ferg, who will also be performing, rapping the words “suck a n—- d— or somethin’” multiple times in a row in one of his most famous songs, “Plain Jane.” Suddenly, when a woman includes explicit content in her speech, lyrics or any other form of self-expression, sirens go off. The sexism is clear, and it essentially comes down to slut-shaming. (By the way, Ferg, no hate — I’m a fan of yours too.)
Cupcakke’s lyrics contain content that is not only sexually explicit but also taboo, which adds to the shock value. It’s unfortunately easy to confuse rough sexual activity with sexual violence. However, there is a clear line between the two: consent. Normal, “vanilla” sex without consent is still sexual assault. One of the biggest issues with rape culture is that the word “rape” implies being brutally violated and pushed around. It’s one of the things that prevents victims from coming forward; they do not think that their trauma is valid based on these misconceptions.
It is also common for men to denounce women for participating in rough sexual activity, stripping them of the word “feminist” and claiming that they are subjecting themselves to objectification. This is essentially a glorified version of saying, “She was asking for it. She secretly liked it.” When women defend themselves, they are often told, “Don’t take it the wrong way! I’m just trying to be a feminist for you.” (Yes, I have actually been told this before. Mansplain much?)
Things get especially tricky for Cupcakke because she is a black woman, and we are often portrayed as animalistic and promiscuous. For this reason alone, black women in particular must be allowed to express their sexuality, whether it’s SZA lamenting about a guy texting her when he should know better or Cupcakke rapping about what she and her man did last night. Let us not make the argument that one is a “good” example of black representation at Yale and one is a “bad” example. There is no “right” way to be black.
Some have voiced their concern that Cupcakke’s selection to perform at Spring Fling undermines efforts to make campus more sexually safe. To this, I respond, with safety comes liberation. Being allowed to express one’s sexuality is part of what keeps us all safe, and it is not a man’s place to decide what is degrading to women. It is not anyone’s obligation to listen to Cupcakke’s music, but it is a right to express sexual confidence, even if that person is a woman — especially if that person is a woman. And it is the right thing to do to respect that.
Part of being a feminist, in fact, is supporting women regardless of their preferences. Imposing rules and judgment only adds weight to the ball and chain that women are already oppressed by. I have learned that in this world, no matter what a woman does, she will be ridiculed. Shouldn’t women at the very least be allowed the small privilege of expressing ourselves, even if that means that we will get backlash? Do we not deserve that, if not so much more?
Lastly, having Cupcakke perform at Yale is immensely meaningful to much of the LGBTQ+ community here. Cupcakke is one of few rappers to celebrate us without objectifying us (a la “Girls kissing girls, ’cause it’s hot, right?” — a line from Kanye West’s “Don’t Like”). In her video for “LGBT,” she is shown with people of all colors and sizes dancing, smiling and celebrating pride. What better way to represent our diverse and brilliant community than the queen herself?
This, in essence, is what Cupcakke is all about: taking ownership of whatever, whomever and however you love, as long as it’s consensual. So let’s all take a note from her. Yale, let’s go off this Spring Fling. Forget about the guy who won’t text you back, the finals looming ahead or any other haters coming your way. As Cupcakke would say, “Fresh air goin’ through my hair, I don’t care b—-, I’m just ridin’.”
Jazzie Kennedy is a sophomore in Ezra Stiles College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.