Dr. Seuss versus WAP – what’s the issue?

With the news flash about Dr. Seuss books not being published anymore and Mr. Potato Head losing his Mr., I’ve been seeing this same meme shared multiple times all over social media comparing these situations to Cardi B’s song WAP.

Coordinated Messaging Has Us in a Dr. Seuss Meme War at a Very Convenient  Time | by E. Rosalie | The Startup | Mar, 2021 | Medium

We will get to that in a minute… but first, let’s talk about Dr. Seuss. On March 2, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company in charge of taking care of Dr. Seuss’ legacy, released a statement on their site.

Contrary to what might be popular belief, this is not “cancel culture”. This was not a post gone viral on Twitter or TikTok asking for Dr. Seuss to be cancelled. This is from the company itself working to protect Dr. Seuss’ legacy. After working with a panel of experts, they decided the books And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer would no longer be published due to “portraying people in ways that are hurtful and wrong”.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of remarks made about how people have gotten too soft or too sensitive, and that’s why we’re “cancelling” everything. In certain circumstances, I would tend to agree. However, why is not wanting racist remarks or stereotypes reflected in children’s books a bad thing? We’ve grown as a country, and I’d like to think we’ve finally become more racially/socially aware. That’s growth. If you’re offended by this, it’s probably because the remarks aren’t being aimed towards you. Sorry not sorry.

When these books were written, it was a different time. There was a completely different mindset and environment. Over time, things have changed. We’ve learned we shouldn’t say or do some things because they could offend others. Incase you need another example – people used to refer to individuals with autism as the R-word. Over time, we’ve learned that this is offensive and shouldn’t be said. While some people continue to be ignorant, the majority of people know to not use that word. This is no different.

In And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, a boy described as Chinese has lines for eyes, is carrying chopsticks, and has a bowl of rice in his hand. The text reads, “A Chinese boy who eats with sticks….”.

Image from here

In If I Ran the Zoo, two men are intended to be from Asian descent and are shown carrying an exotic animal on their heads while the main character rides on top. The text reads, “With helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant”.

Image from here

In The Cat’s Quizzer, there’s a sentence that reads, “How old do you have to be to be a Japanese?” with the answer, “All Japanese are Japanese the minute they are born”. In the “Food Quiz”, it asks, “Do the Japanese eat with pogo sticks or joss sticks?” with the answer, “Pogo sticks they jump on. Joss sticks they burn. They eat with chop sticks.” It also states, “In Ireland, you can buy rainbows.”

Many people justify these by saying kids won’t notice. And that’s probably true, because they don’t realize it’s wrong. However, if they continuously read a book depicting a Chinese man with chopsticks and slits for eyes or African American individuals with similar characteristics to that of monkeys, they will start to associate those fictional characters’ characteristics to real-life people. That is the problem. It will become muscle memory if not stopped. While these images are stereotypes, as we’ve gotten older and wiser, we’ve become more aware that stereotypes can, in fact, be offensive.

If you’ve gotten this far and you still can’t see what’s going on here, let’s make it more simple. Dr. Seuss has published more than 60 books. Only 6 of them are not being published moving forward. Keyword there is not being published. No one ever said they were banned. No one ever said you couldn’t have them or read them. They are simply just not making more of them. That’s it. If you feel so strongly against that, then do a quick google search to find one of these books and purchase while you still have the chance.

Now moving on to Cardi B’s WAP song. Many people are in an uproar because Dr. Seuss children’s books are being considered offensive while Cardi B made a whole song about having a “wet ass pussy”. I don’t understand how people can compare these, but let’s depict anyways.

Dr. Seuss books are being considered offensive because they have racial stereotypes that can hurt or offend other people. Cardi B rapping a song about her own body and desire as a sexually liberated woman is only offensive to those who feel some type of way about sexually liberated women.

When Lil Wayne came out with “Every Girl” in 2009, all he did was talk about wanting to “f*** every girl in the world”. When Three 6 Mafia came out with “Slob on my Knob” in 1999, they’re talking about a girl being too nasty to have sex with so they find a “freak in Hollywood” instead. Eminem’s song “Kill You” states, “You think I won’t choke no whore, til the vocal cords don’t work in her throat no more?” Now, we could go on about misogyny in the rap genre, but that’s for another day. Point is, no one complains about these songs or rappers. Which can only mean one thing, people are mad because Cardi B is a woman whose song about her own body is a top hit.

I say top hit, because it actually was not named Song of the Year. Billie Eilish’s song Bad Guy actually won Song of the Year. Regardless, I’m not entirely sure why people are offended by women owning their own body. Probably because it breaks all history barriers. Probably because a woman’s pleasure and desire continue to be frowned upon and considered taboo. Men can rap about women and their bodies, and no one bats an eye. But let a woman do it and there’s an uproar. Why?

Personally, I think it’s empowering to have women *finally* owning their bodies. Women are already sexualized 100% of the time, so why not make money off it? I believe that’s what The Rock would call “Working the Gimmick”.

Critics of the song, primarily men of course, claim that this song sets women back 100 years, is trash, or is to be expected when women grow up without God or a father figure. I think it’s a banger. WAP, Up, and Money are top songs of mine all by Cardi B, and I see zero problem with that. I will rap every single word and line effortlessly and unapologetically. What I don’t understand is how these songs by women are considered inappropriate, unwelcoming, trashy, etc while all these songs by men about women, specifically sexually demeaning women, are considered award-winning. Toxic masculinity much?

I know some will say “well there are women who don’t like the song either or who have these opinions about this song, too”. The only response I have for that is it must be very unfortunate to not truly believe and know that women, and you, are badass. To grow up or currently live in the mindset that women are still inferior, have no opinions about sex or work or sexwork, or god forbid, possibly have a roll outside of a housewife, is offensive to not only me but probably women everywhere. So let’s stop doing that, mmkay?

Women are badass. We can create a life within our own body. We can run a business. We can run a country (shoutout Jacinda Ardern). We can have opinions. We can have pleasure. We can have desire. Just about anything a man can do, we can do; and probably better and/or in heels. Women run the world, the world just hasn’t quite caught up yet.

If our *former* President can brag about his interactions with women (bless their souls) and can say, “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything,” then I’m pretty sure two women can rap for four minutes about their own WAPs.

Point is, these two situations can’t be compared. You’re just salty because books written back in the 1900s have been since deemed inappropriate, and women empowerment unheard of in the 1900s are hitting Billboards Hot 100 Charts now. The only similarity I see here is growth.

Keep reading your books, keep listening to your songs, keep living your life, and most importantly, keep reminding yourself that the only place a woman belongs is in charge.


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