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Offset, Cardi B, and the Toxic Masculinity of Public Romantic Gestures

Cardi B. and Offset on stage on Saturday as he disrupts her performance

Cardi B was mid-performance when her estranged husband showed up with a manipulative overture.

Another man interrupts a woman in the middle of her job to perform yet another poorly-thought romantic gesture.

Cardi B. was at work, headlining the Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles on Saturday -- performing for the people, telling it like it is -- when her estranged spouse Offset decided to just show up to apologize to Cardi in front of a whole lot of people, right in the middle of her show.

"I just want to tell you I'm sorry, bruh," pontificated Offset. "In person. In front of the world."

Offset, in what was assumedly supposed to be some grand romantic gesture, had a gigantic sign onstage, begging Cardi to "Take Me Back." This was, of course, after it was revealed Offset had been cheating on Cardi. Their child, Kulture, was born in July.

Cardi had to shoo him off the stage to continue her milestone show -- she was in fact, the first woman to ever headline the festival.

Disturbingly, the organizers of the Rolling Loud Festival may have had some knowledge that the stunt would happen. According to Monique Judge at The Root, the organizers warned fans on Twitter in a since-deleted post, "whatever happens" on stage that night was going to go "viral. Make sure you're there tonight for Bardi." (In a statement, the festival's organizers say, "We were tipped off that something was going to happen, but had nothing to do with the organization or execution of it.")

This whole debacle is akin to the stunt some guy pulled a couple of months ago during the New York City Marathon, in which a man was rightfully shamed for jumping out in front of his girlfriend in the middle of her race, to ask her to marry him. To be fair, some people might say it was indeed romantic. The couple seems to have celebrated after and they will probably get married and live happily ever after, icebags and all. But you try stopping your mental focus and physical momentum after 16 miles to experience one of the biggest moments of your life, and then have to run another ten miles. He couldn't just wait until she crossed the finish line to make his grand gesture, so as not to detract from her marathon? This is the New York City Marathon, after all, one of the premiere races in the world. Qualifying to run it is a feat in its own right.

Later, Cardi asked fans on Instagram to cool it -- no one needs to go after the Migos rapper with torches and pitchforks. But this all begs the question, what is it about straight men that makes them think storming in on a woman's big solo moment is supposed to be somehow romantic? At the least, it's an intrusion into a woman's work, then forcing the woman to carry the emotional labor of the situation (putting someone down in front of thousands of people, if not millions of people paying attention online? Sure, no pressure).

Maybe Offset is a secret rom-com fan, where the feelings of men trump the lives of women they disrupt for a grand, sweeping gesture. So many of these movies glorify the idea of prioritizing a man's persistent actions and intrusive feelings over the actions and feelings of the woman they are pursuing, forcing them to say "yes" to avoid someone (read: the man) feeling hurt.

In more insidious instances, though, these acts could be considered harassment. The situation still requires the woman to do the emotional labor of managing the man's expectations that he's thrusting upon her.

But in the worst case scenario, she's also negotiating potential harm. As author and academic Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD, said on Twitter, a man may think his actions are romantic, but being confronted with unwarranted shows like this constantly can feel "unsafe."

There's nothing wrong with romantic gestures -- in the age of Grindr and Tinder, the world could probably use more romantic gestures -- but why must it come at the expense of a woman's work or, perhaps, at the expense of her safety.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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