In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan, Cardi B sounded off on a number of recent issues, including the #MeToo movement’s pathetic shunning of strippers and video vixens in the hip hop industry. She elaborates by saying that when people ask her why she always brings up her past as a stripper, she tells them, “Because y’all don’t respect me because of it, and y’all going to respect these strippers from now on.” She also makes the valid point that “just because somebody was a stripper don’t mean they don’t have no brain.”
She raises important concerns about the #MeToo movement’s lack of concern for women who act and dance professionally in hip hop films: “A lot of video vixens spoke about this and nobody gives a fuck.” She also believes that a lot of the “men in Hollywood” who have seemingly embraced the movement “aren’t woke, they’re scared.”
[bctt tweet= “Cardi B unabashedly forced discussion around issues with the #MeToo movement that have been present since its inception.” username=“wearethetempest”]
Cardi B has unabashedly forced discussion around issues with the #MeToo movement that have been present since its inception, and she is right to do so. #MeToo has rightfully garnered criticism from several communities because it tends to leave out the narratives of black and brown women, Muslim women, sex workers, homeless women, transgender women, and incarcerated women. While #MeToo has been a great place to start when it comes to holding men accountable and exploring the nuances and repercussions of sexual violence, it has decidedly pushed certain groups of women to the margins, essentially silencing their voices.
And while #MeToo is theoretically for all women, the media continues to focus on high-profile white women who fit the “good girl” persona (read: women who don’t engage in any type of sex work). People who praise #MeToo for the good work that has come out of the movement but look down on strippers, video vixens, and sex workers are part of the reason the #MeToo movement has become so elitist. Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Rose McGowen (who is problematic AF) are just a few of the faces that are often associated with the movement. And while many of the leading women of the movement do have important insight and offer steadfast support to women (minus McGowen), there simply must be more women from all walks of life, who inhabit spaces that society is not always comfortable with, or even willing to accept, if we want #MeToo to actually benefit the most marginalized women.
This is why Cardi B is so fed up with how strippers and video vixens are treated. In our society, many men and women tend to view stripping as not actual work; it is perceived as simply a flaunting of sexuality, and is therefore dirty or inappropriate. A woman twerking in a music video while wearing sexy lingerie is not believed to be doing a “real” job because she is employing her sexuality and body in a manner that many see as low-class, slutty, or pathetic. Sex work is viewed as a pitiful way for a struggling, oppressed woman to earn money, or as hypersexualized activity that “sluts” with no intelligence perform.
[bctt tweet= “Because of this blatant dismissal of women in these work environments, the general public is less enraged when men assault them.” username=“wearethetempest”]
Because of this blatant dismissal of women in these work environments, the general public is less enraged when men assault or harass them. In fact, there is no outrage, only intentional oblivion. To many people, a woman’s open sexuality is grounds for violence. If the woman is shaking her ass wearing only a G-string, isn’t she kind of asking for it? It is this thinking that silences women in these industries. Despite the fact that because of the nature of their work, they are even more likely to be sexually abused.
[bctt tweet= “If we only care about white, wealthy, mainstream actresses, then we don’t really care about women at all.” username=“wearethetempest”]
I am glad that Cardi B is trying to change the discourse around strippers and video vixens. Just because we are often afraid of, or disgusted by, a woman’s blatant display of sexuality, or her earning power that comes as a result of it, does not mean that we should ignore their very real stories of sexual assault and coercion. It simply means that we need to change our thinking about stripping, women in hip hop, and our perception of what constitutes “real” work.
If we only care about white, wealthy, mainstream actresses, then we don’t really care about women at all.