The popular rapper Cardi B was in the news recently. A 3 year old Instagram live video was salvaged and posted to twitter. She was talking about how people think that she didn’t work for her own success and that it was just handed to her. Her defense was that as a sex worker, she had to do things to survive including taking men back to hotel rooms, robbing them, and possibly drugging them to rob them.

#SurvivingCardiB

This caused an interesting but short-lived backlash. Many people on twitter were trying to get her “canceled” and started the hash-tag “survivingcardib” bouncing off the documentary of a similar title about the many sexual charges against singer R. Kelly. After she realized that the backlash was not going to die down easily she posted an instagram message basically reporting that she “had to do what I had to do to survive” and that she “rose above it but many women don’t.” The actions are unquestionably bad, especially in the #metoo era.

However, trying to conflate Cardi B with R. Kelly and Cosby, as many have tried to do, isn’t going to last and this will probably bolster her image. Why? She’s always been a scrappy, underdog, hustler. That’s part and parcel of her image. She’s admitted to being associated with the Blood gang of LA and yet discourages the lifestyle because “it don’t get your money.” She has an up-from-the street story and this just reinforces that image. Bill Cosby was America’s family man and perfect role model, until the scandal. That is why his fall was harder and faster. No one expected anything else from Cardi B regardless of the actually people hurt in this situation.

Double Standards

So why the lack of outrage? Even at this writing, this story has fairly well come and gone. The simple fact of the matter is this: there is much less outrage when men are taken advantage of in sexual situations. This is especially true in regards to sex workers, which Cardi B was. The attitude goes something like this, “If a man was visiting a sex worker or taking a stripper home, then what did he expect?” Ultimately, the sexual value of women will remain higher than men and that means that a man getting taken advantage of will never have the same gravity. What’s more is that many men won’t even want to admit that anything happened. Readers are welcome to correct us, but no victims of Cardi B have stepped forward. This illustrates a double standard in the sexual politics of our time. When women are used sexually, it’s an outrage. When a man is the victim, there is a collective “meh” from society and the world moves on. True equality? Hardly.

A Good Day for the Image

Ultimately, this will probably enhance her hustling stripper-to-success story. As poignantly illustrated in this Vox article, this is part and parcel of who she is and the image she has built through her social media following and her many media appearances. This whole story feeds into the mythos of Cardi B and because it was only male victims who were assaulted, very little will come of this crime. There was some outrage from the Trans community, because it appears that she may have used trans sex workers to shame the men in question. However, even that didn’t last very long and didn’t make much of the major stories. Cardi B will continue to work, continue to be popular, and pretty soon this whole thing will be just another part of her story.