The year just keeps getting better and better for Cardi B. In February, it was revealed that she had a new boo in the form of Migos member Offset. She was the shining star at the BET Hip Hop Awards earlier this month, where she took home four of the eight awards she was nominated for. She even snagged an invite to Rihanna’s Diamond Ball in September. Her single “Bodak Yellow” was the hip-hop anthem of the summer and after topping Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart for three weeks, it broke Lauryn Hill’s record as the longest-running chart topper by an unaccompanied female rapper. Then, this past weekend, Offset proposed to her on stage in front of the entire Powerhouse crowd in Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, many of the bright spots in Cardi’s career are swiftly followed by a low hum of criticism, skepticism, and disapproval. Despite her success in hip hop, her skills as a rapper are often dismissed and denied. For example, this Spin article documenting the Hill record Cardi broke begins, “It’s sad but true…” And her engagement is no exception. In fact, tweets like these, that boldly declare that she’s not wife “material,” speak to the heart of the problem that many people have with Cardi B. and women like her: she is not the version of womanhood dictated by slut-shamey patriarchy and misogynoir.
Cardi B’s rise to fame is a story of our changing entertainment landscape. As a stripper in New York, she spent her downtime making Instagram videos. Her signature wit and willingness to be honest about every part of her life, including her sex life and plastic surgeries, quickly grew her follower count. I’m proud to say that I was among those early followers. Undeterred by her thick Bronx accent or her close ties to its streets, Cardi rejected respectability by merely existing. She was able to parlay her newfound internet fame and big personality into a role as a cast member on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop, a reality show notorious for the artists who aren’t actually making waves in hip hop. Cardi, with her aforementioned success, has been was one of the exceptions.
Gaudy nails, excessive cleavage, and figure-hugging ensembles from Fashion Nova have always been part of her aesthetic. This package — a rejection of middle class assimilation, feminine piety, and traditional social decorum — has made Cardi the antithesis to ladylike respectability. And we live in a culture that thinks there should be punishment for such discretions, the main one being a denied access to romantic love and institutions like marriage. This explains the prevalence of the old and problematic adage: You can’t turn a hoe into a housewife.
But like many of our sexist tales — like the one that compares women to cows and sex to the milk they produce — this simply isn’t true, and Cardi proved it when Offset proposed. She and her fiancé have spent the better part of a year being relationship goals. She has been showered with the love and affection that sexist trolls insist is only reserved for women who don’t show as much skin and rap about their own pussies.
It’s time to shatter the myth of “wifey material.” Let Cardi’s engaged bliss be a lesson: everyone deserves love and the happily ever after that works for them.