Cardi B, Misogyny & Rap Music

Cardi B is an icon. There, I said it. Her ascent to fame has stirred much debate, particularly over the last year. A diamond in the rough placed under extreme pressure in the Bronx, Cardi B has always been about her SHMONEY, and who can blame her? A product of humble beginnings, she admits she was often at odds with her parents, meaning she had to find a way, or make one-and boy, did she ever.

“A ho never gets cold,” she declared in an Instagram video that would eventually help propel her into stardom. She pranced off in typical Cardi B fashion, always with somewhere to go, always with business to handle, always with some shmoney to make. That was two years ago. In 2015, the young college dropout had one Timberland boot in the strip club, and one stiletto in Hollywood. I think that’s what made her so fascinating to some. She was a 22 year old stripper with so much to say about everything, and we actually wanted to listen. We couldn’t stop listening.

Of course, that’s not what drew to me Cardi. Besides the fact that she has a sister named “Hennessy,” it was her relatability, her humor, her ability to own her shit that really made me love her. But the truth is, not everyone loves women like Cardi. She curses like a sailor, she flaunts her sexuality, and she calls n*ggas out on their bull. She’s a f*ckboy’s worst nightmare.

On any given day, if you scroll Cardi’s social media pages, you’ll find scores of paltry, pathetic, men (and women) calling her everything but the beautiful child of God that she is. Insults like “THOT,” “Slut,” and “Stripper Ho,” litter her feed. This kind of misogyny and toxic masculinity is highly visible whenever Cardi is centerstage. On occasion, she’ll address the hate, but most of the time, she’s basking in her newfound fame, and doing the things that made us love her in the first place.

While it’s clear that Cardi tries hard not to let what people say affect her mood, sometimes the Dominican slips out, and she just has to pop shit. She recently posted a rant to Instagram about how men go out of their way to discredit her accomplishments based on her life as a dancer. Prior to that, I’d been thinking a lot about the way the world receives women like Cardi, often having to prove that they’re worthy of good things happening to them. (To be clear, good things KEEP happening to Cardi). Cardi’s recent deal with Atlantic Records was icing on the cake after her appearance on Love and Hip Hop New York. She finally got the opportunity she’d been praying for. She finally leveled up.

While her fans were glad to see her rise to the top, a lot of people were equally upset to see “hoes winnin’.” Women who rallied behind Cardi had their morals questioned, and those suffering from Bitter Male Syndrome (BMS)™ emerged from various dumpsters throughout the nation to heckle her supporters.

What’s bizarre about this backlash is that since Hip Hop and Rap music’s inception, men have been praised for their hustle, their gangster, their grit. NWA, one of the most iconic groups in Rap history, has a long record of violence, drugs, and abuse of women, but are still hailed as Hip Hop icons. The rappers we’ve elevated to “Top 5” status, Jay-Z, Biggie, and PAC to name a few, built their careers on storylines about drugs, murder, and exploitation. When Biggie referenced rape in “Dreams (Just Playin’)”, no one batted an eye. The same goes for artists like Rick Ross, Ja Rule, Eminem, Cam’Ron, and DMX, all of whom we show deference. Misogyny and rape are very common, yet often overlooked themes in Rap music, but we know that misogyny doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

It lives and breathes outside of rap music. The impulse to shame Cardi for her sexuality, while screaming “Free *insert name of guilty rapper*” highlights the hypocrisy that we’ve come to accept in the workplace, in our relationships, in our homes. We’ve convinced ourselves that men who represent the worst of society deserve accolades, while women who don’t conform to a certain (patriarchal) standard deserve nothing-not even happiness.

The people who hate on Cardi have one goal, and that’s to steal her joy. To make her second guess herself, to eventually break her down. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Cardi, it’s that she can survive things most people can’t. She has foresight, she has chutzpah and contrary to popular opinion, she’s got smarts. If we had any sense at all, we’d sit back, watch her make moves, and take notes.

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*Sidenote: Just look at the recent backlash over Amber Rose’s post. When Amber’s nudes were leaked, people passed them around the internet like hot potatoes. Men constantly leak nudes of women they know, and women they don’t. But now that Amber has posted her OWN nude, she’s being dragged through the mud. What I’d like people to understand is that no one is advocating that women post nude photos of themselves on the internet. What many feminists are trying to get across is that men only like women’s bodies when they feel they have control over how they are seen. When a woman takes control of her body, and practices autonomy, she is viewed as a lesser person. Her morals are questioned. Get this-once Amber released the photo, she was then shamed for having pubic hair! This is just another example of how we’ve been programmed to think that what men view as attractive should be the standard. (Girl wear your pubic hair however you want!)

One of the greatest feminists and historical icons of our time, the late great Maya Angelou was a sex worker, and a madame for years. That doesn’t make her any less of a woman, any less of a human, and any less of a pillar in our community. The point is, a woman can be whatever she wants, whether it be a doctor, a lawyer, a phone sex operator, or the like, and whatever she chooses, it’s her choice to make, and she should be treated with respect. 

What do you think about this? Talk back.

#karmajonezknows

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