Each One, Teach One | Cardi B’s empowered sexuality does not discredit the importance of her political commentary

While her feminism may look different than that of others, we should continue to celebrate her for firmly standing her ground no matter what.

  /  01.25.2019

As KRS-One articulated throughout his catalog and in his many teachings, “Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live.” As the culture continues to evolve today, many feel it’s not only important, but vital to preserve and honor the fundamental elements: Graffiti, emceeing, breakdancing, deejaying and knowledge. This column called “Each One, Teach One” aims to do exactly that. It will highlight various lessons that can be passed between new and old generations alike.

The battle cry to “protect Cardi B at all costs” is growing louder with every passing day. Her meteoric rise to fame and accompanying influence is as hard-earned as it is hard to ignore. Even my 84-year-old grandmother who hasn’t consciously listened to rap music a day in her life is hip to who the Bronx native born Belcalis Almánzar is. That being said, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Cardi’s continuous infiltration of all things pop culture occasionally dips its toes into political water.

Just over a week ago, on Jan. 16, the Invasion of Privacy rapper hopped on Instagram to candidly check in with her fans, a habitual practice integral to her personable brand and ever-evolving legacy. During the clip, Cardi addresses the seriousness of the government shutdown, which has frustratingly become the longest in American history.

“Trump is now ordering federal government workers to go back to work without getting paid,” Cardi said.”I don’t wanna hear y’all muthaf—kas talking about, ‘Oh, Obama shut down the government for 17 days,’ yeah b—h, for federal healthcare. So your grandma could check her blood pressure and you bitches could go check your pussies at gynecologists with no muthaf—kin’ problem. Now, I know a lot of y’all don’t care ’cause y’all don’t work for the government or y’all don’t have a job. But this s—t is really f—kin’ serious bro. This s—t is crazy. Our country is in a hell hole right now. We really need to take this s—t serious.”

Much to the surprise of no one, the clip immediately went viral, even causing elected U.S. senators to debate whether or not to retweet Cardi’s comments on Twitter. Her comments soon made ample appearances at the annual Women’s March with protestors further amplifying her statements. Republican political pundit Tammy — I mean Tomi Lahren — also entered the conversation, as if right on cue.

Lahren wanted the smoke from Cardi B and the two began exchanging jabs at one another with Bardi simply writing, “Leave me alone I will dog walk you.” Iconic. The pair then shared more words for one another, as Twitter onlookers grabbed their popcorn anticipating more top-tier clapbacks. After Lahren referred to Cardi’s politics as “moronic,” the rapper responded, “You’re so blinded with racism that you don’t even realize the decisions the president you root for is destroying the country you claim to love so much. You are a perfect example on no matter how educated or smart you think you are you still a SHEEP!”

As the conversation continued to make headlines and rack up thousands of retweets, conservative journalist Stephanie Hamill added another topic of focus to the dogpile by — wait for it — bringing up Cardi B’s unapologetic sexuality. The light-hearted and on-brand music video for her and the City Girls’ collaborative track, “Twerk,” was recently released, during which the aforementioned artists and a group of women celebrate their bodies and show off their dancing talents in various locations.

Hamill posed a question asking what the message behind the visual says in the context of the #MeToo movement, inviting Cardi B to chime in. The tweet eventually caught Cardi’s attention and she chose to respond to Hamil’s passively implied slut-shaming remark.

“It says to women that I can wear and not wear what ever I want. do w.e I want and that NO still means NO,” Cardi replied in a tweet. “So Stephanie chime in..If I twerk and be half naked does that mean I deserve to get raped and molested? I want to know what a conservative woman like you thinks.”

Then, the rapper added: “All these conservatives been harassing me and telling me the most disgusting things these past few days. Listen I’m not telling ya to turn liberal all I’m saying is to admit that your president is f—kin up this country right now! Liberal or conservative we ALL suffer as citizens.”

As illustrated in countless ways since Cardi began embarking on her breakout journey as one of today’s most cherished artists and entertainers, it goes without saying that she can more than hold her own against internet trolls, criticism and various attempts to dim her shine. While there are a lot of lessons to be learned as scholars at the University of Bardi, one takeaway to keep in mind is that while the definition of feminism is a multifaceted one, Cardi interpretation is just as important to consider as her political comments are valid.

“Being a feminist is such a great thing and some people feel like someone like me can’t be as great as that,” Cardi shared during an interview with i-D Magazine. “But, then, some people are smart, but they don’t have no common sense. They think feminism is great and only a woman that can speak properly, that has a degree, who is a boss, a businessperson… they think only Michelle Obama can be a feminist.”

She continued: “But, being a feminist is real simple; it’s that a woman can do things the same as a man. I’m equal to a n—a. Anything a man can do, I can do. I can finesse, I can hustle. We have the same freedom. I was top of the charts. I’m a woman and I did that. I do feel equal to a man.”

Her transparency about her past work as a stripper has been both a breath of fresh air and made her an easy target for others to try to discredit her opinions as less than. ENOUGH OF THAT. It is infuriating that so much time has to be spent protecting and defending women who have chosen an alternative path than what outdated societal ideals deemed appropriate. Even though she shouldn’t have to, Cardi has since further clarified her stances and defended herself as someone who pays attention to society, doing so without apology or backing down. All in all, Cardi is not only breaking the misogynist mold by being unapologetically herself. But, she also understands the power behind her platform. The combination of self-awareness, fearlessness, confidence, intelligence, vulnerability, advocacy and resilience is a lethal one; making Cardi B a national treasure and a sexually empowered, political savvy one at that.

As exemplified by the recent backlash surrounding the many facets that make up Cardi B, it is unfortunate that women’s bodies and subsequent choices are still widely scrutinized in society. While this may be a change that takes centuries to become fully realized, Cardi B is helping lead the charge simply by being Cardi B. While her feminism may look different than that of others and her right to comment on politics may be off-putting to some, we should continue to celebrate her for firmly standing her ground no matter what. I said it over a thousand words ago and I’ll say it again: Protect Cardi B at all costs.

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