The entertainment industry is a very complex field of work which includes issues that expand beyond the silver screen, like how women are still treated unfairly under the guise of romance.
Cardi B has been in the music scene for quite some time. She has risen up through the industry, being the first female headliner for The Rolling Loud festival. The Rolling Loud festival is all about hip hop artists and was originally started in Miami, Florida before expanding into locations like Los Angeles. Cardi B took the stage on December 15, but was interrupted by her now ex-husband, Offset. On December 2, Cardi B had announced their separation to the public. So, one could imagine her surprise when Offset came up on stage with flowers spelling out “Take Me Back, Cardi,” but what might have once been seen as a romantic gesture is actually very problematic.
Public displays of romance like proposing or apologizing are not something that everyone desires, as rom-coms would have you believe, but in actuality they can be harassment.
Cardi B and Offset’s romantic relationship was over, but Offset couldn’t respect that. So, he did what men have done in the past: he tried to manipulate Cardi B into taking him back by bringing their personal baggage to the forefront. By doing this, Offset tried to exert power over Cardi B because it is harder to reject someone in public than it is in private, where it is more likely to be an equal playing field. Thankfully, Cardi B got him to leave the stage and she rocked the rest of her gig, but he hijacked a performance that should’ve been all about her.
Hollywood has been making movies with these kinds of gestures and it is fueling the problem. Rom-coms are famous for showing outlandish acts of supposed romance, usually between a girl and guy. What was seen as romantic on-screen could be seen as creepy off-screen. Another example of downright harassment disguised as romance is in The Notebook. Many people have seen this movie and have deemed it one of best romance movies in cinematic history, but at the top of the film Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) does something that is essentially blackmail. When Noah meets Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) for the first time, he asks her to dance with him. Allie says no and that should be the end of it, but it isn’t. He then climbs onto the ferris wheel she is on and tries again. Allie says no again, but then Noah threatens to let go of the bar he is holding onto unless she agrees. She says yes not because she wanted to, but because Noah gave her no other choice. This harassment is disguised as cheeky flirting, so no one pays attentions how problematic it is in reality.
After Cardi B’s set at The Rolling Loud festival, many of her fans and other celebrities chimed in about the incident, including the founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke. Burke posted a Twitter thread discussing what had happened with Cardi B as well as one of Burke’s own experiences. When Burke was 16, her ex told her to come to the roof of his building. When she got there, he pulled a gun on her and threatened to jump if she didn’t get back together with him. Tarana then describes how the drama and attention felt like love. However, like many others now see, it was anything but love. What her ex did was traumatic and scary. No woman, no person, should feel like they have to be with someone because he has threatened his life or has brought the public into their own business. Some people don’t see that. What they see is their own story and they take their partner’s concerns into their decision making process. Cardi B should’ve been able to enjoy being the first female headliner of a massive hip hop festival, but instead all the press talked about was what her ex did. In a world where women have to do more to get the same places as men, this is simply unacceptable.
Despite what happened in the middle of the show, Cardi B did an amazing job in the performance and many fans called out the toxic nature of Offset’s apology. What should be gained from this event is that women should get to celebrate their big nights and not have men pull them down. Our society is a patriarchy making it hard for women do simple things that others find easy. However, even when women make it to the top of their profession, men oftentimes find a way to make it about them. Nonetheless, Offset’s actions highlighted the fact that this romance disguised harassment keeps happening to women, showing that there’s still fixing to be done.