Opinion: Cardi B Faces the Music

Sex, money, and power. These are the three ingredients needed for the recipe to make the Devil’s Pie. In the #MeToo era, it seems like anyone can be served a slice. This time the scandal involves an unlikely person. Cardi B has faced criticism after a video from three years ago resurfaced where she admitted to drugging men and robbing them while they were unconscious before she got her big break. While this is no doubt true and awful, the backlash she’s faced is unfair for a few reasons.

Soon after the video of her confession went viral, the hashtag #SurvivingCardiB followed. The play-on-words refers to Dream Hampton’s documentary Surviving R. Kelly, where the singer’s alleged history of sexually abusing underage Black girls is examined in the court of public opinion. In a similar fashion, Cardi began to draw comparisons to the now infamous date-rapist Bill Cosby, who drugged his victims before sexually assaulting them.

It may seem logical to draw a straight line from Cosby and Kelly directly to Cardi B and label it a double standard. However, under critical analysis, this is not a double standard at all but more of a false equivalency. Here’s why.

Let’s go back to our original recipe. Sex was used as bait in Cardi B’s case. She wasn’t famous then, so she used her position as an erotic dancer to lure men to hotel rooms under the pretense that she was going to have sex with them, where she would then drug and rob them. These were grown men willing to pay for sex. While these acts are heinous, it doesn’t quite compare to what Bill Cosby and R. Kelly did. Cosby used drugs to rape unwilling women and R. Kelly manipulated his victims with fame and wealth, allegedly sexually assaulted dozens of young girls. Which brings us to our second ingredient, money.

Cardi was a struggling dancer when she committed these crimes. Both R. Kelly and Bill Cosby were already ridiculously wealthy at the time of their crimes and what they did to their victims is far worse than stealing money from them. They manipulated, abused, and then lied on their victims and used their considerable wealth to silence them. Money is what Cardi B was after and money is what R. Kelly and Bill Cosby used to escape justice for decades. The knife simply doesn’t cut both ways here.

Finally, we have to talk about power. What Cardi B did was devious and straight up wrong. She used her victims’ perception of her as powerless to take advantage of and rob them. If anything, Cardi B deserves credit for being honest (although admitting such things was not smart, at least she didn’t lie). Seeing as how her victims were men, it is unlikely that they would come forward because we all know how they would be treated. The same toxic masculinity that paints Cardi B with the same brush as serial rapists would have a field day with men that thought they were about to score with a jump off, only to get caught with their pants down and robbed while unconscious. This is the real double standard in all of this.

People using #SurvivingCardiB in this situation are basically like the folks that decided #AllLivesMatter was a good look after #BlackLivesMatter became a rallying call for organizers against police brutality. It follows the same logic of diverting attention away from the more serious problem. While this confession is rightfully a stain on Cardi B’s reputation, putting her in the same category as documented sexual predators that deny their wrongdoing while hiding behind their wealth, fame, and lawyers is simply not comparing apples to apples. Not that this matters to most people. This is the internet we’re talking about, right?

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