”But stripping is not for you my child”, I said to my daughter, beginning to question my original choice to allow “Finesse” to play next on the Spotify mix. We got to that sentence because my youngest asked who the female rapper was on the track. My oldest child said, “She is Cardi B”. She heard at school she was good but upon listening, she was uncertain if she missed the memo.
“I mean I kinda like that we have two rappers, now… her and Nicki” I said to my oldest.
“Yeh, mom but Nicki Minaj, I don’t know, she is actually talented. She is fun to listen to and creative”. She said. I felt pride swell in my chest. I was raising a rap connoisseur. She was listening intently and not just hypnotized by the repetitive beat.
We talked about why a variety of self expression is great for the music industry and that when I was a kid we had two female ganger-sex rappers (Lil Kim and Foxy Brown) among a wide range of other women representing other communities and interest in the black and brown communities. But the reason I said, But stripping is not for you, is because I told my daughters that Cardi was a stripper first. She then rose to popularity through Instagram and other reality-like tv and media. My oldest began explaining what stripping was as best as she could as a ten year old hearing about it from friends.
“Oh my. That’s so bad. She’s so bad for doing that”, my middle child gasped.
“What’s bad is that she was in a bad relationship and a bad life situation in the first place and had to get out. Never judge another woman who is making money. Never judge a woman who has to use her body to get out of a situation. You don’t know what she had to go through to even get her to that point in the first place… but stripping is not for you, my child. At this moment, you have a family that loves you and is encouraging. You have quality food and parents who will do their best to make sure you get the best education they can afford. You have to make the most of these opportunities, using your body and mind to go study, exercise, and be the best that YOU can be with what you’re given.”
My middle child was still confused by the lack of absolutes. Why should any woman have to do this in the first place? Why is it good for her but not other people? ...she had so many questions.
“We should always exercise empathy for other women and the tough situations they are in. We do not judge anyone or their life choices... BUT if your parents love you and have provided an amazing education and experience for you, you should not be using your body for prostitution or stripping to make money or earn favor. And if you do, I’ll never judge you, but I will help you find other options”
Everyone faded into a thoughtful silence.
What is women’s empowerment and feminism all about when you boil it down to its core? We’ve added these complicated layers, we’ve begun to add additional voices and struggles to women’s empowerment… but what is it really about? At the root of this struggle, lies the desire and expectation to live a respected and a judgement free existence. It’s really empowering just to be, to exist around and with others and be able to be in that space, not ignored, but just acknowledged. A respected and judgement free existence, that’s empowering.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.