Elizabeth Keane

This column was originally published in Volume 57 Issue 8 of The Prospector on May 17, 2019. It is being published to the website for its relevance to an opinion story running in Issue 2 on October 9. 


“I support equality for both genders, but I’m not a feminist.” 

With the amount of times that I have heard that sentence or some variation of it in my life, it has become clear to me that the idea of feminism has strayed far from its true meaning. Feminism has a bad reputation in high school; people tend to assume that a feminist is someone who supports misandry —- a hatred of men. 

In today’s society where celebrities are highly revered by the public, popular artists have more influence on the perception of feminism than they may realize. Cardi B is a rapper who rose to the top of the charts in August 2017 for her debut single “Bodak Yellow.” Since then, Cardi has attended various prestigious music awards, winning titles such as “Best New Hip-Hop Artist,” “Top Rap Female Artist” and “Song of the Year” for her song “I Like It,” to name a few. 

Recently, an Instagram Live clip from three years ago resurfaced in which Cardi spoke about her past as a stripper. In this video clip, Cardi admits that she used to lead men into hotel rooms with the promise of sex, only to drug and rob them. The media quickly reacted with the hashtag #SurvivingCardiB on Instagram and began to call her the female Bill Cosby. 

I heard about this scandal from my friend one day, and I was surprised that it wasn’t being talked about by anyone around me. In fact, a majority of the people I mentioned it to didn’t know what I was talking about. I did not actively follow Cardi’s presence in the media prior to hearing about this, but I knew that she was notorious for being extremely honest and unapologetic. Any respect that I had for her and her music was lost when I heard about the way she handled the situation. 

“Whether or not they were poor choices at the time, I did what I had to do to survive,” Cardi wrote on Instagram. “I have a past that I can’t change. We all do.” 

Drugging and robbing another human being is never something that you “have to do to survive,” and Cardi should not be able to justify her mistakes by using her poverty-stricken past to receive sympathy for her crimes. By doing this, Cardi is only victimizing herself rather than acknowledging the truth: the men are the only victims here.

However, senior and two-year Feminism Club member Christian Figueroa believes that this behavior could have been necessary for Cardi to do at that time because she had fewer options to acquire money than the people around her. 

“As a minority woman living in America, any job [Cardi] would get outside of stripping [would mean] getting paid less than her male counterparts or white female counterparts,” Figueroa said. “It’s more probable and acceptable that [Cardi] did that rather than everybody else, but it’s still not OK.”

There are a million other jobs that I could name to earn easy money that do not include putting someone else’s life at risk in order to steal their wallets: McDonald’s, Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A… must I go on? While I do acknowledge that Cardi’s ethnic background could have put her at a disadvantage for job opportunities, crime was never her only option. 

It is a feminist’s responsibility to call attention to this woman who has admitted her wrongdoings against many men. Even though she didn’t rape them, these men were victims that she preyed on consistently for a period of time in her life. If we continue to only highlight and discuss the crimes of men against women, we are further fueling the perception that people have of feminists —- that they believe all men are evil while women reign superior.

English teacher Elizabeth Joiner, who teaches a gender studies unit in her HWLC classes, believes that although what Cardi did was not sexual assault, it was still a crime nonetheless. According to Joiner, the media would have had a bigger concern and assumption that the victims of these crimes were sexually assaulted if the genders were reversed because of the idea that some people believe that men cannot be raped. 

Joiner was also confused as to why no police stepped forward to investigate her claim. According to Joiner, the media’s only responsibility in this situation was to recognize that Cardi committed a crime, but after that, legal action should have been taken. 

According to Figueroa, the people comparing Cardi to Bill Cosby and R. Kelly were being too harsh. If the gender roles of the situation had been reversed, Figueroa believes that this situation would have been misdirected by the media to the #MeToo movement, even when no sexual assault took place. 

At Prospect, Figueroa feels that feminists are perceived as “too liberal” and that people sometimes shy away from speaking up about their feminist ideals for fear of being associated with the extremes of feminism or with the women who put down men rather than supporting equality of the sexes. Thinking that feminists are people who want to emphasize women’s superiority is ignorant and is the reason why feminism is looked down upon at Prospect. 

“Not everything is black and white,”Joiner said. “[We have to] make judgements about things based on information that we’re given. The more we can learn about obstacles that [the different genders] face and the issues they deal with, we [gain] a better understanding of each other.”

So yes, I am a feminist. I don’t hate men, and I don’t think that I’m better than any other gender. Feminists need to reclaim the true meaning of feminism, and that starts with holding people like Cardi B accountable.