Offset Needs to STFU, and So Do We

We don’t like it like that

Katherine Singh
by
Cardi B and rapper Offset stand on stage at the Rolling Loud Festival in LA

Photo: Getty

On December 15, Cardi B was mid-performance during her headlining set at the Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles (which, btw, made her the first woman to ever do so), when her estranged husband Offset crashed the stage in hopes of winning her back. In videos posted of the performance, the “Be Careful” rapper can be seen looking stunned as walls of flowers are rolled onstage, reading “Take me back Cardi.” Offset, one-third of rap group Migos, then enters stage left decked out in jewels, a mic and a sorry-looking expression, before launching into a mumbled apology. Cardi is visibly pissed, shaking her head and sending Offset off the stage shortly after his arrival.

The crowd and the internet was LIT, and, rightfully livid. Offset’s stunt is only the latest in his very public and very pressure-filled “get Cardi back” apology tour, which kicked off after her December 2 announcement that she and the Migos rapper were no longer together.  In a (now-deleted) Instagram post, Bardi said, “things haven’t been working out between us for a long time.” The couple, who secretly wed in September 2017 and share daughter Kulture, have been rocked with rumours of infidelity since they started dating at the beginning of 2017.

Offset all but confirmed his infidelity in his first post-break up ‘gram, pleading with Cardi to take him back on December 14, saying, “I was partaking in activity that I shouldn’t have been taking in, and I apologize. You know what I’m saying? For breaking your heart, for breaking our promise, for breaking God’s promise and being a selfish, messed up husband.” The rapper than asked his wife to grant him the ultimate b-day wish: forgiveness. “I only got one birthday wish and that’s to get my wife back, Cardi,” Offset said. “We’re going through a lot of things right now, a lot of things in the media. I want to apologize to you Cardi. You know, I embarrassed you. I made you look crazy.”

Hours later, Offset appeared on stage with 21 Savage, who was performing on the first day of Rolling Loud, where he led the crowd in a chant of “Cardi, take Offset back.” Which is just… a lot.

But what went down during Cardi’s set on day 2 of the festival really had the internet divided, with some calling out Offset for pressuring his rapper wife, and others urging her to take her man back. Apparently, that group was wooed by his series of out-there romantic gestures, which seemingly prove his love and devotion, sort of like Andrew Lincoln professing his love to Keira Knightly via flashcards in Love, Actually (which fyi, was creepy as hell). But guys, we seriously need to talk about this. Because what Offset’s doing isn’t cute, and it isn’t romantic: it’s straight up manipulative.

It takes away Cardi’s autonomy–and her right to say no

While we’re not privy to their personal communication (nor should we be), we can only assume that Offset’s very public profession of love isn’t the first time they’ve spoken about their issues. Still, Cardi B has made it very clear via her Instagram posts that she is working through a separation—and that doesn’t seem to be something Offset is willing to accept. In fact, making these very public pleas is actually meant to remove, or at least hinder, Cardi’s ability to say no to him. Showing up at her place of work, on a seriously big night for the singer, in front of literally thousands of people is a clear of indication that Offset is dismissive of her boundaries and her personal wishes. Instead, he’s literally trapping her into answering him.

It’s also belittling. Similar to HRH Meghan Markle’s family drama, which includes incessant call-outs (from her dad, evil step-sister Samantha Markle and Piers Morgan alike) to resume contact with her father, who up until this point hasn’t been scoring any points in the “Dad of the Year” department, Offset’s behaviour insinuates that men are entitled to the attention of the women in their life, whenever and wherever they want it. And these women, in turn, are expected to respond and engage with the men in their life who are requesting it—whether or not it’s in their own best interest.

Puts the emotional labour on Cardi—once again for her man’s mistakes

And then there’s the way Offset has made himself the victim, shifting focus from his infidelity to instead frame himself as the down-and-out husband who’s just trying to keep his family together. Whether intentional or not, doing so paints Cardi as the bad partner and in some senses, the bad parent. At least part of the internet agreed, with fans calling her heartless for leaving him. But if the expectation is that Cardi will forgive and forget, isn’t that just leaving her to do the emotional labour of keeping her family together, with little consideration for the factors that may have brought them there? “The way Cardi B is being labelled as ‘heartless’ for leaving Offset is infuriating,” Twitter user @jasebyjason tweeted. “Women are always framed as the bad people when they remove themselves from a situation where they’re being mistreated and disrespected.”

It undercuts her accomplishments

Not only was Offset’s latest stunt manipulative, it was also incredibly selfish. Cardi was the first women *ever* to headline Rolling Loud Festival, the largest hip-hop festival in the world. That’s a big deal, and Cardi obviously killed it. But unless you went looking for that information, you wouldn’t really know it, because all press around her—and the festival itself, for that matter—now revolves around Offset’s latest play for forgiveness. Cardi has worked her butt off to get where she is today, without the support or need of a man, so to have such a defining career moment overshadowed by someone who can’t seem to keep it in his pants… well, that’s just unfair.

But here’s the worst part: This isn’t anything new. Offset’s actions are just the latest in a long history of men taking women’s big, career moments for themselves, from marriage proposals during academic, career or personal defining moments (like *ahem* your first marathon *ahem*), to onstage declarations of love. As Twitter user @lakinimani pointed out, this whole situation parallels a particularly cringe-worthy moment between Drake and Rihanna at the 2016 MTV VMAs. Drizzy was presenting Riri with the prestigious Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, but instead of emphasizing her accomplishments, he went with option B: an on-stage profession of love. Also, he tried to kiss her when she went up to accept the award. Also, also, this was after he bought a billboard in LA to congratulate her. The speech—and his feelings—became one of the most talked-about moments of the night, completely overshadowing the reason everyone was really there: to celebrate her!

In an interview with Vogue in June 2018, the Fenty Beauty founder recalled the moment—and her discomfort with the call-out.

In the same interview Riri also let it drop that she and Drizzy are no longer friends. Karma?

And in some cases, this behaviour has the potential to become dangerous

While not directly applicable to Cardi and Offset, our own investment in the idea of “grand romantic gestures” also means we don’t always distinguish between cute and dangerous. Anyone familiar with John Hughes movies is equally familiar with the trope: Someone (usually a guy) communicates his feelings by holding a boombox over his head while standing under a girl’s window (Say Anything), serenading her (10 Things I Hate About YouThe Wedding Singer) or doing something otherwise OTT.

But while we love seeing someone put themselves out there for love, as time has gone on, the trope has similarly aged—and not necessarily well. A 2017 article by Vulture says the grand romantic gesture is here to stay, but characterizes the aforementioned boombox moment as “an enduring symbol of steadfast, albeit slightly stalker-ish devotion…,” recognizing the darker, manipulative side of the trope: the expectation that one will drop everything—including sensibility and qualms—for the other.

In many ways, what Offset is doing is putting it out there for love (albeit too late, and for what kind of love we’re not sure), and that’s why some people are here for it. But when we get caught up in the “crazy supposed to be *love* stories,” as #MeToo activist Tarana Burke tweeted, we can make excuses for bad behaviour, and in some instances that can cause people to go back to bad familial situations.

That’s why we need to be careful about urging friends or family members to take their exes back based on these trappings—because it can be dangerous.

But we’re not so innocent either

Surprisingly to some, Offset’s biggest defender in the subsequent fall out from his wannabe Hughes-eque gesture was Cardi herself. Posting two videos to her Instagram just after her performance, the rapper thanked her fans for supporting and defending her, before asking them to abstain from attacking the father of her child on social media. “Violating my baby’s father is not going to make me feel any better, because at the end of the day, that’s still family,” Cardi said in the video. “Unfortunately we going through things, and it’s not private, it became public. And I just want things to die down.”

In a follow-up video later that evening, the Bodak Yellow rapper continued asking fans to be kind online, saying that defending her estranged husband isn’t an indicator of reconciliation. “I’m not saying that I’m gonna get back together with [Offset], I just don’t like that bashing online thing,” Cardi said in the video. The rapper then referenced SNL comedian Pete Davidson, who just hours earlier had shared an alarming Instagram post that said,”i really don’t want to be on this earth anymore. i’m doing my best to stay here for you but i actually don’t know how much longer i can last. all i’ve ever tried to do was help people. just remember i told you so,” before deleting his account altogether. His post came after weeks of online bullying and harassment, predominantly from die-hard fans of his ex-fiancée, singer Ariana Grande.

“I wouldn’t want my baby father to have that feeling because millions of people [are] bashing him each day, that’s a nasty feeling and I wouldn’t want that,” Cardi said. She concluded the video saying that no one, not even the most “glamorous, perfect man,” could love her child like Offset.

While it’s sad that Cardi even has to address this online bashing, her concern is valid—Davidson’s own experience highlights the extent and dangers of stan culture.

That isn’t to say that some criticism isn’t warranted. What Offset did, both in their marriage and now in his quest to win her back, is trash. But while it’s important to address the unhealthy dynamics inherent in Offset’s actions, we have to be cognizant of the fact that what we say online can be harmful.

So yes, let’s critique his behaviour, but we definitely should not come for him online. Because if we *truly* love our girl Bardi, the best thing we can do is support and respect her wishes—just like she asked.

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