Cardi B has come under fire for a 2016 Instagram live video in which she claims to have drugged and robbed men in order to survive while employed as a stripper.
Critics quickly took to social media to voice their opinions. Some compared Cardi B to R. Kelly with the hashtag #SurvivingCardiB, which is not an equivalent comparison. Others made memes about Cardi B giving people drugged drinks and demanding she be jailed. The video clip begins with her angrily defending her actions.
“I had to go strip. I had to go ‘Oh yeah, you wanna… me? Yeah yeah yeah, let’s go back to this hotel,’” she stated in the 2016 video. “And I drugged… and I robbed them. That’s what I used to do. Nothing was… handed to me… Nothing.”
As the clip ends, Cardi B became more visibly upset and emotional, claiming, “Nobody wanted to help me. Nobody. ”
When it resurfaced, Cardi B released a statement that has since been deleted on Instagram.
“I made the choices that I did at the time because I had very limited options. I was blessed to have been able to rise from that but so many women have not,” she said in the post. “Whether or not they were poor choices at the time, I did what I had to do to survive.”
One may consider Cardi B’s actions from multiple angles. If a man confessed to these crimes, the response from the public would be completely different. Cardi B has always framed her past as doing whatever it takes to survive and make it in the music industry. What Cardi B did, however, is no less redeemable because she frames it as a matter of survival. She still committed crimes against men and removed their autonomy by drugging them.
She did damage to people’s lives and even though she has “[risen] from that,” it doesn’t mean that she has done anything to make reparations to the people she has wronged. Not once in her statement is there an apology for her actions.
The fact that Cardi B was active in the stripping industry while she committed these crimes highlights the gray areas that abound in sex work and similar activities. Laws and regulations should be put in place to protect both workers and clients. The media and critics’ interpretations of the incident are similarly murky.
Some are guilty of victim blaming, claiming the affected men should’ve expected the drugging, or simply known better in the first place.These are classic tactics to keep victims from speaking out against people who have wronged them.
A Vox article by Constance Grady argues it well.
“It might overshadow her right now, but it’s unlikely that this scandal will tarnish her image permanently,” Grady said. Cardi B will almost surely avoid consequences for her actions, even though she should be held accountable.