Cardi B refusing to go on tour for £120,000 a night isn't greedy – it's a crucial feminist statement
As a woman, I can’t think of anything better than stating your worth and being prepared to stand by it
First, to much delight, she clapped back at fellow rapper Jermaine Dupri, who claimed that women in the industry were basically all the same, and likened them to “strippers rapping”. Cardi B responded in the best possible way, saying: “I rap about my pussy because she’s my best friend.”
But she made another statement, perhaps even more significant. On Instagram she explained why she wasn’t going on tour, telling her audience that she would “only” make $150,000 (£120,000) per night, and it simply isn’t enough to justify the work.
In the now-deleted post, she said: “I loveeeee money and I know how to make it …I hope I answer ya question …Thank you. Just stop it already.”
Reactions weren't positive and no wonder: she’s complaining about earning in a night what the average American worker makes in three years, and refusing to perform for her fans on that basis.
There is a narrative that celebrities – especially female ones – should be so eternally grateful for their success that they must dedicate themselves to humbly serving those who “got them where they are”. We see this in the argument that Meghan Markle does not have the right to parent her child in private, that influencers shouldn’t be allowed social media breaks, and now apparently that singers owe it to us to go on tour.
That Cardi B refused to do so is seen as bad enough, but that she did so for the money seems to be perceived as abhorrent.
We are constantly telling women in the limelight that they need to be “better role models”. And as a woman, I can’t think of anything better than stating that you know your own worth and are prepared to stand by it – especially given that society at large tells us to do the opposite.
When Taylor Swift partnered with TicketMaster to fight resale of her tickets, she was called "greedy" and a "scammer" simply for capitalising on her success for financial gain (which, by the way, is the whole point of capitalism); Zoella, arguably the most successful female YouTuber, is lambasted for trying to make money from her platform.
Recently, the US women's football team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit based on the fact that they effectively get paid less than the male team despite bringing in more money. But when they celebrated their World Cup win by turning pages of their lawsuit into confetti and posting Instagram stories saying "pay us, bitch", they were accused of being "unprofessional" and "childish".
Research has revealed that almost eight out of 10 companies in the UK pay men more than women. In the US, women on average earn 80.7 cents for every dollar their male counterpart gets paid. After years of blaming women for “not asking enough”, even when women do ask, they don’t get. Not only that, but women are actually penalised for negotiating salaries.
Clearly, there is a perception that women deserve to be paid less and should never have the audacity to ask for more.
Women are expected to be virtuous, caring, empathetic; any interest in money is seen as contrary to this. It’s neither new nor original to point out that negative terms such as “money hungry”, “gold digger” and “too ambitious” are reserved for women while “driven” and “career focused” are used to describe the same traits in men, usually in a positive light.
Very few women have the financial security and career success required to turn down work because the compensation offered does not meet the value of their time. Even fewer are able to do so publicly. People need to see this happen in order to start redressing the imbalance that decades of devaluing women has caused to the workplace.
More women making statements like Cardi B is a start, but the reaction matters just as much. As long as we continue to criticise women for discussing what they earn, and being boldly open about their desire to make more, we're perpetuating the idea that their careers and successes are somehow worth less than men's, that they should be grateful to be offered anything at all.
It’s not materialistic or superficial or ungrateful for Cardi B to know her worth and demand it be acknowledged – it’s exactly what a generation of young fans needs to see.