I used to not like Cardi B. She’s loud. Ostentatious. Overtly sexually suggestive in her lyrics. But what was it really? I didn’t like her because deep down, I felt as if she didn’t deserve to be where she was. She was just a stripper who happened to have one hit song and now, she was a mega-star. And then it all changed when I saw her in a live session. She talked about her haters. Especially the women. Women like me. She asked why did we hate her so much. She said instead of hating me for getting here, why don’t you see that if I can do it, you can do it, too? And that changed my whole perspective. She was right. Her words forced me to look introspectively and really examine why I disliked a woman who was simply trying to make it in a world that was not made for her. Why I couldn’t support someone who talked the way she did, dressed the way she did, and made money the way she did. I realized that I didn’t like her because subconsciously, I thought I was better than her.
Deep down, I thought I was better than her. I thought that since I didn’t strip, reveal my body, and sexualize myself through songs that I was somehow better than she was. And if I was better than she was, I deserved more than her. I felt it wasn’t fair that that someone like her could make it and I couldn’t, but her words made me realize my thinking was inherently wrong. I wasn’t better than her. I was simply different, but that didn’t mean I had to demonize her for how she portrayed herself. That’s the thing about feminism sometimes. Sometimes, we pigeonhole who we are and exclude those that don’t fit our view about who we believe is a successful woman. Megan Fox stated this as she said she didn’t feel welcomed by feminists and this resonates with me. Feminism is not just about fighting for women’s equality amongst men, but fighting against our own biases against other women. This freed me in a way that I never felt before. I could look at women like Cardi B and Megan Fox and just appreciate them for who they were instead of what my idea of a strong woman should be.
I then made the correlation between my sexism and racism that was profound. I realized that racists are racist because they also feel as if they are better than the minorities they hate. They are looking at successful minorities and angry that they themselves are not at that level because deep down, they feel as if they are better than them. This core belief of thinking that we are better than someone else is primal. It’s not only confined to sex, race, ethnicity, or sexual preference, but can include a multitude of things that we are not aware of it. It’s natural to assume that the group you belong to is the superior group because you belong to it and this belief causes us to segregate others and elevate ourselves in the process. What we need to do is to acknowledge that we can work through them. To deny these notions is to deny feelings that predate who we are. We need to acknowledge that it’s okay to feel resentful and angry, but the next step is to talk about them. Racism and sexism are never going to go away because they are a part of who we are, but to deny that we are no longer these things perpetuates the myth that there is no real problem.
I have so much more sympathy for Cardi B and women like her now. When I see her, I feel joy. When I confronted my own feelings of inadequacies, it allowed me to be able to support women that were different from me. I don’t always agree with everything she does, but it doesn’t affect my support of her. We are never quite done learning as long as we know we can keep an open mind. And in doing so, we also need to forgive ourselves for what we’ve condoned in the past. Change can be mercurial, but change is always bound to come our way. It’s just a matter of if we accept it or not.