How Cardi B’s Career is a Testament to Reclaiming Female Sexual Agency

BY: MARLIN RAMOS

“What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Cardi B,” I asked a handful of students on American University’s campus. Some of the responses I got were, “Isn’t she that stripper?”, “She’s some IG famous girl idk” or “Cardi yasssss I love her!!!”

To all the ladies that said “yassss,” I’m right there with you. It’s admirable how unapologetically authentic Cardi is. She’s an example of what it's like to embrace your sexuality as a weapon against misogyny and “the haters.”

Cardi never shies away from who she was. She constantly acknowledges her stripper past and doesn’t let the media tear her up about it, choosing to embrace it instead.

“When I walk in the door, I gets my dough

Then a b---h get low

I used to kill them poles, now I kill them shows

They don't like my growth, well f--k ya hoes”

-Cardi B, “Pull Up

She sheds light on the progress she’s made from her stripper days to now, and what she had to do to make a living. She tells young ladies the truth about stripping, how it can be very unhealthy due to constant disrespect from customers and the prevalence of recreational drugs. She goes on to say that despite the dangerous aspects, it got her bills paid at a time when she was kicked out of her house and had little options.

It makes sense that Cardi embraces her stripper past considering how much she embraces her sexuality. During a VIBE interview she said, “You think I paid for my a-- and t-----s not to show it?” Cardi is not afraid to embrace her body, as seen in almost any of her outfits and her infamous line, “a hoe never gets cold!”

Part of why this phrase went mainstream is because she’s essentially saying that there’s nothing wrong with dressing a little risky, in fact it’s empowering. She’s letting her female fans know to hold their heads up because they look good as hell, even if they’re freezing! By embracing the term “a hoe never gets cold,” you’re not using the word “hoe” as a derogatory term. You are using the word as a way to reclaim your sexuality, change the meaning of the word to something more positive and to reaffirm your decision to wear whatever the heck you want. No one has the power to demean you to a “hoe” or take away your sexual agency. No one. 

Cardi also embraces her sexuality countless times on her Instagram, as well as in many of her songs.

“Them motherf--kers be like, "But what type of n----s will wife you?"

My type of n----s will wife me! The type of n----s that like b-----s that pop off

and suck d--k all day motherf--kin' long, b----h.”

-Cardi B, "Pop Off"

Cardi is not afraid to embrace what she does in her sex life. Too many times, women feel that they have to change who they are in order to fit in or be taken seriously, while men (especially in hip-hop) have made careers out of flaunting their sexual conquests in hyper-masculine ways. This is especially true for females of color, who are already hypersexaulized in addition to being viewed as ratchet or ghetto. Cardi says f--k the sexist norms that put women into these boxes and calls on us to change these messed up standards. Why don’t men and women get rid of the ways in which we think a woman should and shouldn't act instead? Who are we to define how a woman should be if we are all individuals with different experiences? 

One thing is for sure, Cardi is NOT going anywhere. You better take Cardi (and all women on this planet) for who she is, because that’s who she’ll always be, whether you like it or not.

Cover: (Wikimedia Commons)

Jenna CaldwellComment