Cardi B – born Belcalis Almanzar – first caught my attention, like many others, with her videos on Vine. Since then, the 24-year-old Bronx-born firecracker quickly took over the world with her song “Bodak Yellow” which made Almanzar the first female rap act to top the Billboard Hot 100 in 19 years. In the song, Almanzar opens up about her past as an exotic dancer and stripper, and how she’s established herself in the rap world since then.
Cardi B, whose stage name is a play on the rum brand Bacardi, earned herself a following of 10.5 million followers and counting on Instagram, became a regular personality on VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: New York,” and signed a record deal with Atlantic Records this February.
In an interview with VladTV, Almanzar revealed that stripping is what saved her life, especially since she was in an abusive relationship. When asked how she got out of her domestic violence situation, Almanzar said, “Stripping, get my own money and leaving.”
Melissa Cedillo, a senior theology major, is the president of Belles Service Organization and said that domestic violence is so taboo and that to some her story may have come as a shock, but Cardi B’s response is not all that uncommon.
Cedillo explained “Why don’t they just leave?” is a common question posed about domestic violence victims, and one of the most frequent answers is a lack of finances.
“A lot of strippers make money through tips,” said Cedillo. “Tips don’t leave a paper trail, thus they can keep their finances private from their abusers. These finances bring those experiencing abuse closer to freedom and give some a sense of empowerment.”
In today’s society, we look at sex workers as discreditable and shameful. Why? Because female sexuality is to be kept in a box and locked away in a closet.
In Maria Ma’s, “The Stigma of Sex Work,” she writes about the harmful impact the negative stereotypes on sex work has on the women and men actually in the industry. “The stigma attached to the sex work industry as a whole creates an often dangerous environment for those that choose to do exactly what sex work is: work.”
Cedillo also agreed that there is a damaging stigma against sex workers, in the sense that it’s perceived that they have no self-respect, are uneducated and lazy. “Some women have been trafficked or get threaten with death if they try to leave sex work. Some get introduced to sex work at such a young way they have no means to leave,” said Cedillo.
According to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”
Cardi B’s openness on her past definitely can provide as inspiration for women and men trying to get out of abusive relationships, however she said that stripping isn’t the only way.
Almanzar proves to be a role model for women, because of her transparency and the fact that she isn’t afraid to talk about her struggles, even if it may cause backlash. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Belles is hosting six on-campus events to raise awareness and support domestic violence victims.
This is the opinion of Talin Hakopyan, a Loyolan contributor. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.