Just under a month ago, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj had a one-sided, shoe-flinging showdown at the Harper’s Bazaar Icon party during New York Fashion Week which raised a storm in the media and divided public opinion. Some came to Cardi B’s defence and some called Cardi B “unprofessional” and “ghetto” complaining that she was allowing the public’s perception of people of colour, especially black women, to return to regressive stereotypes.
But if someone powerful, who is your senior, is questioning your parenting abilities and who is attempting to stop you from earning your income, wouldn’t you be furious? Cardi B has spoken about her previous attempts to address the conflict instigated by Nicki Minaj which were of little to no avail. However, it is abundantly clear that Nicki Minaj had over-stepped Cardi B’s boundaries, and, therefore, Cardi B had every right to be angry and, yes, to throw her shoe at Nicki Minaj. And what exactly was wrong with Cardi B’s “ghetto” reaction when Cardi B is ghetto and Nicki Minaj is also aware of this? Question: what is even wrong with behaving “ghetto?” Why must we, both as women and as women of colour, be “classy” when we have every right to be angry?
The term “classy” itself denotes sophistication and higher-class attitude and behaviour which would seem to point to the more upper middle-class members of society and, in general, to the class system. Who so often belongs to this category? White people. And who more often is expected to behave in a “classy” fashion? Women. There is a significant pressure to behave in accordance to the etiquettes of the upper middle-class faction and this pressure is heavily applied to women and doubly so to women of colour.
We must also question when the upper middle-class became synonymous with “civilised” behaviour? And why are we demanding people, especially women of colour, to behave in a “white” manner? When did the “white way” become the “right way?”
In recent news, America – and the world, have been eagerly staying up-to-date on the Kavanaugh hearing and whether his Supreme Court nomination will be confirmed by the Senate. Dr Christine Blasey Ford provided a cool, calm, collected yet vulnerable testimony during the hearing. Many have correctly commented that if her testimony was anything like Kavanaugh’s blathering, angry and loud performance she would have been labelled ‘hysterical’ without hesitation.
Now, contrast Dr Ford’s testimony to Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila who confronted Senator Jeff Flake in the elevator and passionately and urgently demanded: “Don’t look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me.” We cannot decidedly say that this was effective, but Jeff Flake called for an FBI investigation at the very least. But will this be enough? We don’t know, and many remain in doubt as to how much the FBI investigation will impact the results in Dr Ford’s, and for many women across the Wests’, favour. But what we can see here is that being angry, nay, being righteously angry, can create results or have the potential to. Although, how much can we say this for women who appear in court in similar circumstances to Dr. Ford? On-stage, women are expected to be so much more, to filter their rightful anger and restrain emotions no matter how fitting and appropriate they are.
On the whole, we are implicitly targeting those who do not belong to the white upper middle-class to subscribe to behaviour that strips away their identity in a variety of ways, but the pressure is doubly applied to women who must go above and beyond in restraining rightful anger and filter any behaviour that may be deemed “ghetto.” So, I ask that we stop shaming women for not filtering and repressing our indignation when our rights are violated or our boundaries over-stepped. But, more so, we must also look at the micro-actions that are modified in our day-to-day life to suit elite white standards and instead allow for free expression that is not limited to a specific class.
By Sophia Ismaa, @sophia_ismaa
What are your thoughts on the Kavanaugh hearing and the feud between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B? Why do you think there is added pressure on women to behave in a classy manner and especially for women of colour? How has this affected you in your day-to-day life? Let me know in the comments.
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