On the night of December 15th, Cardi B made history as the first woman to headline Rolling Loud. The music festival was started in Florida in 2014, and has since made a habit of downplaying women and allowing abusers to perform. Nevertheless, it has become the biggest hip hop festival in the world, with two additional festivals in northern and southern California and plans for international expansion. Performing at such an acclaimed event had potential to be one of the best nights of Cardi’s skyrocketing career—but before her set even went into high gear, the energy was brought down.
Mid-song, Cardi B’s estranged husband, Offset, had stagehands bring decked-out cakes spelling “TAKE ME BACK CARDI” to the stage. Holding a bouquet, he then walked on stage himself and begged for her forgiveness over the microphone. The scene was recorded by many folks in the crowd and immediately went viral on social media. It was uncomfortable to say the least.
Cardi and Offset’s whirlwind romance, which began when they met at an industry event, immediately turned the pair into a couple to watch. They were inseparable, showing up in style at events during New York Fashion Week and collaborating on tracks like “Lick.” On top of their individual successes, their list of achievements together was long, including top-ten hit “Motorsport” and the cover of Rolling Stone. When Cardi announced she was pregnant with the couple’s first child, a daughter who would be named Kulture, their fans were ecstatic (though others criticized their speedy love).
The duo seemed to have it all—but rumors regarding Offset’s unfaithfulness never ceased. Screenshots confirming his cheating had long been circulating online, and his infidelity eventually proved too much for the “Be Careful” artist. All of this is to say that it doesn’t matter who you are, what you accomplish, or how much you have; it is still possible to be cheated on and emotionally abused. I wish that weren’t the case, but it is.
Since the 26-year-old “Bodak Yellow” rapper announced their impending divorce on her Instagram on December 4th, multiple rappers have made digital pleas for Cardi and Offset to reconcile—including Offset himself. The day before Cardi’s own set, 21 Savage went so far as to encourage his Rolling Loud audience to chant “CARDI, TAKE OFFSET BACK!” while the grinning Migos rapper stood beside him.
It is clear that Cardi was not in on what happened at Rolling Loud, though some people online claimed it must have been a publicity stunt. But when the father of her 6-month-old daughter crashed the stage, Cardi spoke to him without a microphone, her body language was not warm, and she sent him off stage. Although multiple people, including Cardi’s publicist, were in on Offset’s public display, it was evident that the young mother was not. Among those allegedly in the know? The music festival itself, which tweeted remarks referencing Offset’s apology video and said that an event would go viral that night. In retrospect, it is obvious that they knew about Offset’s plans—they even posted a photo of the confrontation with the caption, “Y’all won,” mimicking Offset’s comment below Cardi’s video breakup announcement.
Rolling Loud is not a safe space for women. This incident is another reminder that the world is not really a safe space for women at all.
Over the summer, 53-year-old Senta Authorlee was shot and killed by her husband as she was arriving to work. She had ended the relationship one week earlier, but Anthony Authorlee could not accept that his marriage of 31 years was over. He reportedly told the police that the marriage dissolved because of a disagreement regarding their grown child.
On November 19th, Dr. Tamara O’Neal, a 38-year-old ER physician at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital, was shot to death in the hospital parking lot by her ex-fiancé, Juan Lopez. Their engagement ended a few months prior, and in his rampage, Lopez also murdered a police officer and a pharmacy resident.
No, Offset did not put Cardi or anybody else in physical danger when he popped up on the rapper where she worked. But ignoring the link between these tragedies and the toxic masculinity that emboldened Offset to interrupt her performance is impossible. Whether they reconcile or not, his behavior was inappropriate and sends a dangerous message to other men.
Men have to stop feeling like they are entitled to every part of a woman’s life, especially when she has severed their relationship.
My first relationship began during my junior year of high school. It was a childish union between two acquaintances who just figured they should be dating, so when I broke it off after six months, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I didn’t anticipate being asked to leave my friends during lunch so that my ex and I could have a conversation. When I saw him, he whipped out a lengthy letter and spent several minutes trying to convince me to get back together. I was nervous, but I made it clear that our relationship was over. So he took to Tumblr and called me a bitch. It was a guilt tactic gone wrong, followed by some digital degradation.
My next relationship wasn’t for another three years. When I ended that one too, my ex incessantly called and texted me over the next few days. He let me know via text that he didn’t like how I was operating (ignoring him), but I was simply working my first days at a new job. I was just trying to be a good worker and not look at my phone. While he didn’t show up at my place of work, he did make it apparent that disturbing me over a dead relationship was more important than doing my job.
It’s not sweet when your partner steps on your “no.”
Women are harassed for leaving their partners all of the time, and Offset’s latest display of male privilege makes it seem like that type of selfish thinking is okay. Women are not punching bags for you to pump full of misery for their whole lives. Society has to eradicate the idea that a woman’s strength is predicated on how much cheating, lying, and humiliation she can endure.
Cardi deserves much better than this. I hope she gets the peace she needs.