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Cardi B: stripper hoe and feminist icon

04 May 2017

The season six and seven ‘Love and Hip Hop: New York’ personality has climbed to fame for her tongue-in-cheek attitude. Here is a list arguing why the rising star should be recognised as a contemporary feminist icon.

1. Cardi is not afraid to comment on current affairs or speak out against the status quo. In this video, she discusses the 2016 US presidential election. She shows that you don’t need to have a degree in politics or access to complicated literature to have informed opinions about the political landscape. This is important because feminism can become exclusionary when elitist, academic-dependent boundaries are enforced.

2. She talks openly and honestly about her experience of domestic violence. Cardi has become successful off her own back after living with abuse. This is inspiring to survivors as it shows there can be life after leaving a violent situation, and a good life at that. In Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1, the skit ‘Her Perspective’ is a very raw representation of the traumatic experiences survivors of abuse endure on a daily basis. This, along with her other commentary, raises awareness of the realities of how domestic violence can play out in the real world. This is touched on particularly when she discusses how becoming a stripper empowered her to move on. This can be seen as an example of her sex worker inclusive feminism.

3. Cardi is sex positive. She talks frankly about her experiences and desires. This breaks socially imposed boundaries that place restrictions on women’s sexual behaviour. She inadvertently challenges social norms about the “who, what, where and when” of women’s sexuality.

4. In this video she discusses police violence against black people in America. Cardi goes on to talk about SWERFS (sex worker exclusionary radical feminists,) exclaiming that feminism is about empowering all women, not just specific subgroups. This again reflects her intersectional approach to feminism.

5. Cardi has used her spotlight to highlight the effects of racism and the many ways it can manifest. In this video, she reacts to the common occurrence of unfair criminal sentencing which, in practice, leaves non-white people with harsher sentences.

6. She advocates that feminism is for everybody, and doesn’t believe the label should be reserved for those who have access to feminist academic literature. Again, this challenges elitist boundaries that can surround feminism. She goes on to say “being a feminist is something so great and y’all don’t want me to be great”, which encapsulates the way exclusionary feminist politics can leave women feeling.


Cardi B is connected to her working-class roots, making her a relatable figure for people in disadvantaged communities. Her feminist ideas are relayed in a way that might be more digestible for people who feel excluded from mainstream feminism. Cardi goes on to represent feminist ideas by not adhering to the politics of respectability imposed on black women. She shows that you don’t need to present yourself in a conservative fashion to be socially aware or thoughtful. While it could be argued that Cardi is problematic – for example some may take issue with her temper – I ask you what feminist icon isn’t problematic in some form?

Black women often have to provide a higher burden of proof to be considered fully-fledged feminists by parts of the wider community. Black feminists are put under a microscope and scrutinised to a greater degree than more privileged feminists. One such example is the questioning of Beyoncé’s legitimacy as a feminist, despite other, non-black women artists being lauded for less. Cardi self-defines as a feminist and uses her social media platform in a way that is relevant to current events, reaching people easily, and sparking ongoing discussion.

Cardi B is not just a headstrong reality TV star and rapper, she is a feminist.