Cardi B’s “WAP,” featuring Megan Thee Stallion, swept the internet by force, when it was released on Aug. 7. Zoomers and millennials alike took to TikTok to dance provocatively to the wildly catchy but arguably profane song.
One such TikTok, purportedly two female soldiers dancing to the tune, has sparked military twitter outrage and a larger discussion about what women can or should be doing on social media while in uniform, revealing a double standard that doesn’t seem to apply to male service members.
The user, Kamrynvison01, who appears to be in the Army, is featured with a fellow soldier doing what a majority of TikTok users do: dancing to the most popular songs of the day. This particular ditty however, which most prominently features the lyric, “wet-ass p****, make that pullout game weak,” has drawn ire from the military community at-large as it serves as the background music for a video that some on Twitter are calling “conduct unbecoming.”
“WAP” is number one on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart for the second week running. It’s the first song to do so since Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” in 2019. But it’s not necessarily the song’s perceived vulgarity that has critics upset, rather, it’s their perception of the female service members posting a “thirst-trap” video on TikTok that has people across the Twittersphere calling for an end to women in the military.
For those not up-to-date on the internet lingo of the day, Urban Dictionary defines “thirst trap” as “a sexy photograph or flirty message posted on social media for the intent of causing others to publicly profess their attraction. This is done not to actually respond or satisfy any of this attraction, but to feed the poster’s ego or need for attention, at the expense of the time, reputation and sexual frustration of those who view the image or reply.”
Some of the comments about this particular video, however, are as profane as the dancing they condemn. Retweets range from suggesting all women should be expelled from the ranks of the Armed Forces to requesting friendly fire be directed at them to crying about how China, the country from which TikTok emerged, has won.
“I really wish we put these people on the frontlines as body sheilds,” wrote user @PhiliaSmith. “Holy f*cking hell I hate you.”
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Another user, @CFagan1987, wrote, “Conduct unbecoming … this is disgraceful. Our fighting men and women should not be mimicking trash queen Cardi B when in uniform.”
Others, however, suggested that the responses from military Twitter reveal deep-seated misogyny among leadership, including women in positions of authority.
In one such instance, a female military JAG officer criticized the video, and was met with a fierce backlash from Twitter uses on the other side of the issue. Her account has since been deactivated.
“Let’s be clear here, the reason this particular video is making the rounds outside of Twitter and bringing up comments on professionalism from people with oak leaves and eagles or people with stars between their chevrons and rockers is because it’s of two women,” wrote Victoria Kositz, a veteran and professor of military science, in a retweet.
The video has since been made private on Kamrynvison01′s account, but the responses to it also raise larger questions about the military’s relationship to TikTok in general. Though this clip elicited particularly sexist comments about women in the military, men in service have done their fair share of producing “thirsty” videos on the platform.
These two are the most prominent that have emerged in the discourse of hypersexualized military TikTok videos emerging, but they’re far from the only ones.
Users across the services share 15-to-60-second videos about everything from workout tips to milspouse woes to complaints about toxic command climate.
Despite ongoing discussions about the U.S. government banning the app for national security reasons, particularly the collection of personal data, usership continues to grow across the United States among civilians and service members. The Pentagon in 2019 also stated its position against the use of TikTok, calling it a cyber threat. Both the Army and Navy followed suit, banning the app’s use among their ranks.
However, that doesn’t seem to have much impact.
Sandboxx, which connects service members and their supporters throughout their military journey, took a survey of 436 service members with ranks of E-1 to O-2 about their TikTok habits.
“42 percent of respondents say they use TikTok at least once a month, with a quarter (24 percent) saying they use it daily,” according to statement obtained by Military Times. “This is despite many branches banning the app’s use on government devices and warning against its use on personal devices.”
However, military users say that if their command specifically requested, they would delete TikTok.
“The data clearly shows that no matter how our military members feel about TikTok or its use by civilians, they plan to follow the order of their command,” said Shane McCarthy, Sandboxx chief marketing officer.