HIV Aids

Cardi B’s Divorce Is Arousing the Morality Police

Once again, people are slamming Cardi B on social media. Normally celebrated for her incisive knack for spilling the tea and telling it like it is all over her Instagram stories, this time around, the former Love & Hip-Hop star and Grammy-winning rapper has run afoul of the morality police, who have decided that she’s gone too far with spreading her WAP on top of the Billboard charts and daring to divorce her husband of three years, the rapper Offset.

Pearl-Clutching Hypocrisy

There is no need to print the list of hateful darts being spat at Cardi B’s bodacious backside, but what they amount to is, “You can’t be a wife and be out here encouraging people to be nasty in the streets.”

Never mind that half of hip-hop clamors for a “freak in the sheets” while snickering “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” The comments might be entertaining as parody if they weren’t so misogynistic and childish.

Detractors have gone from to denouncing Cardi B as a bad influence on children—clearly her target audience—to mocking her for losing her husband because she’s too busy living the WAP life. Even as we offset this with the fact that she is probably enjoying living single, we cannot lose sight of the fact that she does not deserve the rancor.

Living With HIV and Sexual Stigma

While the tongue-lashing against Cardi B might strike some as shocking, much like the stigma that greets people who have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, this hatred is nothing new for people living with HIV, who are frequently throttled with homophobia because they dare to exist. If I had a penny for every time I’ve been told that I deserve my disease because—as Tyler Perry famously put it (and Michael R. Jackson deliciously lampooned)—“AIDS Is God’s Punishment,” I’d only have a whole dollar. But that would still be 100 times too many, because, let’s be honest, just about every straight person I know is a Grade A sex fiend, and yet none of them are condemned for keeping it stiff and messy. Unless they are Black women.

Spit Out Dem the Lyrics

“We’re here! We’re Queer!”; “Make it cream. Make it scream”; “We’re Loud! We’re Proud!”; “I let him taste it, now he diabetic.” Both sets of lyrics speak to a refusal to stifle one’s screams on a ball gag. Yes, Cardi B is much more explicit, but just like the Queer Nation slogan for tolerance, her desire to be seen and embraced for who she is no less relevant.

Reading through the rhymes of her song reveals a young woman who has tasted numerous sides of the pole and who has decided that she isn’t afraid to demand more. Instead of begging for attention, she declares her worth, prowess, and daring with the same verve as a gaggle of gays lusting for a night in a dark room in the back of a gay bar. Or a club of frat jocks visiting their first strip club. Or a gang of heterosexual swingers pigging out on a Tuesday night.

In fact, these lyrics are a power anthem to being horny and daring, unlike some of the most misogynistic lyrics in rap: “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” or “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None),” by Snoop Dogg; “One Less Bitch,” by NWA; or “Killing You,” by Eminem. Even when they have a beat, the entire point of each of these songs seems to be degrading women, with no concern for her pleasure. All of this for no other reason than that she is a woman. At least Cardi B, and every power bottom I’ve ever met, promises to “Put him on his knees, give him something to believe in.” Which leaves me wondering, what is anyone mad at?

I’m even more confused by the erstwhile Christians who tend to be all about wives doing their conjugal duties. If anything, I’d expect WAP to be the new bop for the Mormon Tabernacle. But before that can happen, we all need to have an honest conversation about embracing our sexual agency and desires, just like Cardi B is exhorting us to with the religious fervor of a gay choir master.

We’re No Freakier Than You

Every era has its age of sexually daring linguists. Long before Cardi B was making the holy-rollers moist on Beyonce’s internet, there was Gus Kahn’s “Makin’ Whoopee,” Leiber & Stoller’s “Hound Dog,” Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” Salt-N-Pepa’s “Shoop,” Akinyele’s “Put It in Your Mouth,” Foxy Brown’s “Tramp,” Lil’ Kim’s “Suck My Dick,” and Khia’s “My Neck, My Back.”

WAP arguably gives all of them a run for their money—except for “Tramp” and “Suck My Dick”—but it joins each song in advancing the mission of how kinky one can get on a stream.

And that’s the funny thing about all of this pussy-induced outrage. It will fade soon enough and join the long list of unacceptable songs that everyone dances to in their kitchen or while driving to pick up their kid. I’m sure even Candace Owens twerks to the beat while licking out her latest hateful screed.

I look forward to that day for Cardi B and for me, though I see it as a long time coming for Black gay men, especially if they’re living with HIV. As TheBody’s former senior editor Kenyon Farrow put it while speaking on a panel about HIV at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture last year:

“I think that there’s an idea that promiscuity or some kind of problematic sexual life is the cause, but most people, including Black gay men, contract HIV within the context of an intimate relationship with somebody that they know. It’s rare that it’s somebody who they don’t know. We’re not doing anything that’s any more like freaky or greasy or whatever than any other group of people at all.”

He continued, “I’m not saying that there can’t be addiction issues or other things that are at play in a person’s story, but there are lots of people who have addictions that don’t contract HIV in the United States.”

And when it comes to speaking to people who are struggling with their diagnosis, Farrow shared that he takes care to remind people that, “You didn’t do anything wrong.” But even if freaky deaky is your middle name, you don’t deserve to be shamed for having a particularly mephitic flavor of kink. Nor do you deserve to contract HIV. And neither does Cardi B.

Cut the Judgement

Seeing that WAP is No. 3 on Billboard after four weeks makes me happy, and not just because it pisses so many prudes off. But all of the flack that Cardi B is getting does leave me wondering if it is kosher to bash heterosexuals living with hepatitis C because they took one dip too many at the sex club? That idea strikes me as barbaric, because no one should be shamed for receiving a sexually transmitted infection or for living their sexiest life. We certainly don’t mock cigarette smokers who develop emphysema or race car drivers who end up in car accidents. So where does society get off on abusing women and people living with HIV for reveling in their full sexual glory?

Malcolm X’s famous quote—“The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman”—comes to mind while reading the vitriol that Cardi B faces. It’s not a competition, but many Black gay men living with HIV might stand to disagree with that pronouncement, because the same nonsense that she is facing is the same abuse that people living with HIV and AIDS go through on a daily basis.

For all anyone knows, Cardi B is actually quite tame when it comes to her home life, but even if that isn’t the case:

  1. We’ll never know.
  2. It’s none of our business.
  3. It doesn’t matter, because no one should be throwing stones at Cardi B over the dissolution of her marriage, just as no one should be judging people diagnosed with HIV—whether they are taking anonymous loads every night or taking lifesaving antiretrovirals because of a contaminated blood transfusion.

If WAP’s lurid brilliance pisses you off, change the station or pop in some ear-plugs and go on about your business. If gay people or people with HIV make you angry, swallow a teaspoon of cinnamon, because we’re here, we’re queer—and we’re fucking like rabbits while you’re busy staying mad.

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