With dope rhymes, rib-tickling humor and unabashed sexuality, this week’s #WCW Cardi B crushes mics, hearts and the patriarchy, somehow making you simultaneously crack up and snap at her brilliant feminism.
That’s right: feminism. While the mainstream women’s movement side-eyes mujeres of color for naming the former stripper, always hustlin’ Dominican-Trinidadian Love & Hip-Hop star a feminist, the truth is Cardi B has always been challenging patriarchy, whether calling out double standards, bigging up other women, embracing her sexuality, promoting female economic independence and various other fiercely pro-girl shit.
The New York AfroLatina is influencing Black and brown girls across U.S. ‘hoods to eff with themselves heavy, and in a culture intent on making women of color from the ghetto feel inferior, that alone puts a dent in the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
Do you identify as a feminist?
I think so. I support every type of woman. A lot of people claim they are feminists, but they only support a certain type of woman: only doctors, nurses, career women. I support women getting money, regardless. I support women that have the career, went to college. That’s not something I was patient enough to do, to go to school for four more years, so I salute those women. But I also salute women in the streets, hustling men to get money. I support women sleeping with old men. I support them all. So I guess you could consider me a feminist. I never labeled myself it, but that’s what they call me, so I guess I am.
What does feminism mean to you? How would you define it?
Feminism, to me, is a woman who hustles and thinks as strongly as any man would. It seems like it’s a man’s world, but I’m out here and I see women doing things that people think men are running. We’re bosses, and that’s what I consider feminism: female hustlers.
It’s largely been women of color on the Internet hailing you as a feminist. Why do you think your message and presence resonates with many of us?
A lot of women of color are tired of feeling like we’re second, feeling unloved. When I worked in the club, I always used to hear women of color, sometimes myself, saying that the lighter girls are preferred. It makes you think to yourself, do I really like myself? I don’t want women to feel that way, like, in order to be liked or more loved you have to be lighter. When n****s get money, drug dealers, they prefer their women light-skinned. They want that Spanish girl with the long hair. I don’t have to be that way, and not all Spanish girls look that way. Some are light with long, dark hair, and a lot are also dark with big, beautiful coarse hair. I want people to love every type of woman, not a certain type.
For sure! I think another one of the several reasons so many feminist women of color eff with you is because you’re so unapologetic, about your past, your womanhood, your hustle, everything. Who inspired you to be so unapologetic?
Nobody really. I’ve always been like this. I always spoke my mind and got in trouble for it, even in high school. But every time I stood up, people would look and tell me I’m right. I have an accent, and people think the things on my mind are powerful. I’ve always been like that. I just don’t really give a f**k.
Not everyone is happy about you being referred to as a feminist, though. There was some backlash, mostly from white feminists. What do you think about those folks who feel uncomfortable with that or who have a problem with your version of women empowerment?
Yeah. You want to know why they have a problem? The reason they don’t like me or don’t consider me a feminist is because I’m not ideal to them. But that’s why I say they not real. If you don’t support all women, then you’re not a real feminist. If in order to consider someone a feminist, they have to had gone to college, got degrees, own companies, then that’s not real. Why can’t someone who came from the bottom, who has a dark past, not achieve? I used to be a dancer and did what I did. I don’t have a perfect vocabulary. But I do influence people. No matter how mad they are, I still influence people. They think I try to send the wrong message ‘cause of what I used to do. When I talk to women who tell me they need money, I don’t tell them to do what I did. I say, “do what you feel comfortable doing.” I’m not saying, “go strip.” That’s not for everyone, sometimes it wasn’t even for me, so I won't suggest that. I suggest anything that makes you feel comfortable.
Why is it important for you that this movement be inclusive of all of us, not just a select few?
Because I don’t ever want a woman, for example, my mom, to feel less of a woman, less important, because she did not go to college. I don’t want to have people who didn’t have the opportunities as others to feel less powerful. No one is better than another. I won't allow that.
Your instagram videos and music cover a range of feminist issues, from critiquing those who put women down to lift themselves up and calling out unattainable beauty standards, body-shaming and slut-shaming to online harassment, female economic independence, sexual pleasure and self-acceptance. Why are these issues important to you?
Because why is it that a man can do it? I don’t understand why it’s OK for a n***a to go out there and sell drugs, talk about drugs, and call what I do “bad?” They’re influencing our youth to drink lean, pop molly, sell drugs, but when I go out and say, “don’t f**k around with broke n****s. I did that. They didn’t take me nowhere,” then it’s a problem.
Right! As a Black Latina woman, especially one in a male-dominated field, how does the racialized sexist comments you get impact you?
It does impact me. It makes me sad. Like I have accomplished so much, and people see that and still want to disrespect me because I’m a woman, because I’m saying I was a dancer. But, like I said, when a man says, “I used to sell crack,” and they were making less money than I made, and they get praised, that pisses me off. What also pisses me off is that people are never satisfied. If I had a flat ass, no butt, no boobs, then I’m disgusting. But when I get surgery to fix it, it’s also a problem. I’m disgusting then, too. Y’all never satisfied. Why does it bother you?
Mhmmm! The woman’s body, especially a racialized one, is always criticized, never enough. What has been one of the most sexist experiences you’ve had in this industry?
One of the most sexist experiences I’ve noticed, it’s not a huge problem, but it’s harder for a woman to get in the rap industry, way harder actually. When a male rap artist does music, women and men support. When you a woman, it’s only other women who support.
What's your favorite girl power track from “Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1?” There are a few.
“Stripper Hoe,” because it’s a little sad that when I used to work in the club, girls used to get happy and gassed that a man would buy them a bag or shoes, but it’s like, girl bye. Hustle for other things. If he’s opening up your legs, let him open up your business. Forget bags and shoes. That shit don’t last, girl.
How do you see what you do, from your music to your videos, as helping to challenge gender, racial and class issues? How do you see it as helping to crush the patriarchy?
I just never thought I’d be in the position I’m in today. I just want everyone to see how basic I was when I was broke, and see, like, she came up from nothing to something, I can come up myself.
If you’re not already, follow the part-dominicana on Instagram to get inspired (and laugh like shit) by her daily truth bombs.