On January 20, while the nation mourned the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, Cardi B released her second mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2. Less than a month earlier she stunned fans by walking away from her role as the breakout star on Love and Hip Hop after only two seasons. Everyone expected her “to pursue music,” but no one expected what Cardi delivered.
Since leaving Love and Hip Hop, Cardi has delivered win after win after win. In February, she signed with Atlantic Records and began touring. In June she dropped her first commercial single, “Bodak Yellow.” By August, “Bodak Yellow” was number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. And in September Cardi B became the first solo female act to claim Billboard’s number one spot since Lauryn Hill in 1998. And Cardi isn’t just winning professionally. In February she met Offset from Migos, and by October they were engaged. In a year of Trump, treason and stress, it’s refreshing to see Cardi collecting her wins.
But not everyone has celebrated her wins. No matter what Cardi accomplishes, there’s always a choir ready to harmonize and disparage her based on her past work as an exotic dancer. But why?
Cardi B makes people uncomfortable because she refuses to stay in her lane. Stripper is a label that a woman is supposed to wear with shame…forever embarrassed and eternally demeaned. Cardi, who rose to fame by posting pictures and videos on Instagram during her stripper days, never retreated into shame. Instead she used stripping as a platform to escape an abusive relationship and improve her life. And people HATE when this happens! How dare you use a system put in place to oppress you in order to improve your life? Society wants strippers to stay in a stripper’s place and despise when strippers able to move out of the corner of society designated for them.
This concept is true for women in general. People don’t like women who succeed despite the subjugating labels society places on them. Stripper. Hoe. Prostitute. Bitch. Baby Momma. These are all labels that are supposed to limit a woman’s access to success, love and happiness. And when women achieve success, love and happiness despite these subjugated labels, misogynistic “kings” and patriarchy princesses become irate. This is why people have a visceral reaction to Ciara and Russell Williams’ loving photos and tweets about their blended family. This is why people continue to discuss Kim Kardashian’s subpar sextape 15 years and $175 million later. And this is why it’s so hard for some to celebrate Cardi B’s success.
Our society suffers extensively from the Madonna-whore complex which relegates women into one of two categories: saint or whore. And once a woman has been labeled a whore, she is undeserving of anything good, loving or respectful. That is why it has been so refreshing to see Cardi B win 2017. She has refused all boxes, challenged all labels and found success, love and happiness despite society telling her she doesn’t deserve it.
May we all channel our inner Cardi B and collect these wins as well.