Ciara and Cardi B’s success proves that Black women can be successful without being tethered to toxic relationships and misogynoirist standards of womanhood.
By Clarkisha Kent
Everybody likes a good Cinderella story. Well, at least that’s what people want you to think. Mostly because to fit the role of the titular heroine, one must have suffered long, been painfully obedient, oh-so-modest, oh-so gracious, and exceedingly humble. Only then can one assume that this alleged Cinderella figure is the ultimate pious, virtuous, and virginal woman. And only then, would they truly deserve happiness.
Except…issa lie. All of it.
And Cardi B’s rise to fame (read: the existence of hoes) and the public, romantic ascension of Ciara (a former, single mother) proves it. Ashy Cryeses and PickMe Tinas around the world have been thrown into a tizzy this year based on the prosperity and opulence Cardi B and Ciara have been experiencing. Usually, I’d write this all off as basic jealously and hotepery, but it’s a bit more complex than that, starting with this:
1. Cardi B breaks the rules according to Judeo-Christian ideas of purity translating into reward.
The myth of the “good”, pious, sexually-pure woman being THE premier woman (re: Purity Culture) is a myth that predates most modern societies and finds a lot of roots in Judeo-Christian beliefs. In fact, I could dwell on how this is probably the chief instigator of the Madonna-Whore complex but that’s a story for another time.
Still. Said myth has always been tied to the implication that a woman must be exceedingly “pure” and “good” for them to experience success. And whether you are a believer or not, one must acknowledge that white supremacy has no qualms with utilizing such principles to keep women and non-men in line and has done so since the beginning of time. And one must also acknowledge that this weaponization of purity has always been disproportionately applied against Black and Brown women, even in our own communities.
Which is why Cardi B, the walking contradiction, makes Ashies and PickMes so fucking mad. Let’s be honest: Cardi has had an amazing year. She signed with Sony/ATV. Her song “Bodak Yellow” peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She’s been at every award show this year. She’s been on magazine cover after cover. And she just got engaged to one-third of Migos.
And she did all this while being, wait for it, a hoe! She wears that proudly by never discounting her stripper past and still, to this day, rides very hard for them. She is also open and supportive about the sexual and financial agency of women. And if Cardi was some average dude, she’d be praised for her candor and entrepreneurship. But because she’s a woman (and an Afro-Latinx one at that), she is simply dismissed as a hoe.
“A hoe” just so happens to be the antithesis of Cinderella, because our idea of “a hoe” does not include humility, purity, or piety. And because of this, she was expected not to prosper. But she did.
This does two things: it exposes purity for the man-made construct it is and it destroys the myth that “good” people (read: women) must act a certain way to move up in society. This is, of course, obvious to anyone who isn’t an ashy of a PickMe and recognizes that life isn’t that Black or white.
Which is what makes Ciara’s case so intriguing — I mean, for all intents and purposes, Ciara is a semi-Cinderella figure on paper. She’s classy, was a military kid, doesn’t really say or do the kind of provocative things that Cardi B might, and publicly swore—in her relationship with Russell Wilson—to not have sex before marriage.
So. With that being the case, what makes the ashy community hate Ciara (and by extension, Russell) so much?
I’m glad you asked! Because here’s the thing:
2. In Ciara’s case, “purity” values join forces with stereotypes about Black motherhood to convince society that single moms like Ciara don’t deserve happiness. Ciara’s Cinderella-like ascension defies that.
I spent the better half of last week detailing what stereotypes have been applied to Black femininity and sexuality since we got to this country, so I won’t retread old territory.
However, I will say that if you take those stereotypes and add them to what America really thinks about single Black mothers, you might understand why people hate Ciara as much as they do.
Besides being demonized by debunked theories that single Black moms are “destroying the Black family”, making Black men “more effeminate” in matriarchal households (read: increasing the likelihood that Black boys will catch “the gay”), and only existing to be used by “the Dwight Man” to put good Black men in jail via the White Devil’s child support (I hope you can hear all the sarcasm in that), Black single moms too are held to weird standards of purity (or rather, failed purity) because the presence of a child—especially one out of wedlock— is a reminder of the alleged sexually deviancy of a woman who happens to be both Black and [single] mother.
Ciara has faced this kind of backlash a lot with her son Future Jr., even as Future (senior) himself has had fiftyleven kids out of wedlock (a clear double standard). And again, many people assumed due to this—despite Ciara displaying Cinderella traits—that she deserved to be alone and miserable.
I don’t agree, and Russell Wilson didn’t either. And whether Wilson realizes it or not, him entering a public (and happy!) relationship with her (and eventually marrying her) shatters the disgusting myth that all Black single moms are destined to do is remain broke, bitter, and unhappy.
It also does one other handy-dandy thing too:
3. It proves that there is life after the fuckboi. And renders the fuckboi obsolete.
Let’s be real. At the base of this brouhaha surrounding both Ciara and Cardi B, I think we can all agree that the ashies are simply mad because both Ciara and Cardi B’s success proves that we do not need fuckbois.
Just think about it. If there is obviously someone out there better for you who is not gonna dog you out at every turn and treats you like the fabulous human being you are, despite you possessing things that society thinks are barriers to success (i.e. being a hoe, being a single mom), why would you settle for less? Why would you tolerate a fuckboi? Why would you accept “struggle love”?
Exactly. There would be no point to all of this and that’s precisely why the ashies are bothered, because both Cardi B and Ciara remind them that they, as toxic fuckbois, are expendable and that the arbitrary restrictions that they have placed on Black female sexuality isn’t about to stop a goddamn thing — and that’s tea.
Author Bio: Clarkisha Kent, aka Lex Luther, aka [REDACTED] doubles, triples, and quadruples as a Blerd, a Crystal Gem, and a Care-Free Black Girl. She is the co-creator of the entertainment blog Sublime Zoo and co-creator of the podcast We Robbed A Zoo. She has also been featured on The Root, The Establishment, and BET. Fun Fact: Her nemeses include Lena Dunham, Frank Grillo, and Taylor Swift.