Gender and Sexuality in Reggaeton
Synopsis: Many critics of reggaetón have stressed the genre’s hypermasculinity. Some have even argued that reggaetón promotes violence against women (among other types of violence). While reggaetón certainly merits criticism for its stances towards women and other groups, reggaetón’s expressions of masculinity are not monolithic. Bad Bunny and other artists have at times challenged and other times reinforced reggaetón’s hypermasculinity.
Alfredo Nieves Moreno argues that reggaetón’s representations of masculinity typically center a “barriocentric macho” who objectifies women, promotes hypermasculinity, and focuses on material wealth. In contrast, he argues that Calle 13 offers an alternative to the hegemonic masculinity expressed in the music that pokes fun at both the barrio centric macho and the moral panics surrounding sexuality in reggaetón.
This paper argues that Bad Bunny embodies a camp aesthetic and yet still conforms to representations of hypermasculinity in Latin trap and reggaeton. Luis Rivera Figueroa analyzes the complexity in Bad Bunny’s persona through his distinctive fashion sense, his discourse surrounding ways he interacts with gender and sexuality, his relationship to the Latin trap genre along with the limitations in his ability to fully disrupt the hegemonic masculine structures in reggaeton.
In this piece, Larissa Hernandez argues that Bad Bunny’s aesthetics and lyrics provide an alternative space to the hegemonic hyper masculine and heteronormative gender roles in Latin trap music. Hernandez uses Bad Bunny’s “Caro” video as an example to assess the extent of his ability to create acceptance towards gender fluidity independent of binary heterosexuality.
Synopsis: Reggaetón has a reputation for sexually objectifying women. Perreo, the dance associated with reggaetón, has been especially targeted by the music’s critics because of its overtly sexual nature. However, others have argued that perreo can be a space for people to express their sexuality, and can even serve as a form of protest. Women artists in reggaetón remain underrepresented, although a new cohort of artists has emerged that embrace perreo and expressions of sexuality. These younger artists build from the work of Ivy Queen, arguably the most visible woman in reggaetón and an important pioneer in the genre.
“En mi imperio” investigates Ivy Queen’s star persona through her physical appearance, her music videos, and her media coverage which highlight a shift from her more masculine hip hop style to a more sexualized and effeminate figure. Jillian Báez explores the contradictions inherent to Ivy Queen’s image and music. On one hand, Báez argues that Ivy Queen expresses agency and feminism in her lyrics and performance which challenges the hypermasculinity of reggaetón. However, Ivy Queen still maintains a more conservative approach, especially in relation to her look, that conforms to standards of the Latin music industry.
Félix Jiménez explores Glory’s role as “the hidden women” in hit songs like “Dale Don Dale” and “Gasolina,” Jiménez illustrates the obscurity that surrounds female reggaeton artists in a male dominated industry. He argues that the normative gender roles in reggaetón restrict women’s agency within the genre.
In “¿Dónde Están las Yales?”, Verónica Dávila Ellis analyzes the connotations surrounding “yale”, a term popularized in Puerto Rican slang that refers to working-class women. Dávila Ellis looks at how the construction and use of “yale” stigmatizes and racializes working class women in Puerto Rico. Additionally, this paper relates this term to larger historical stereotypes used to vilify poor women of color, especially Black and Puerto Rican women, in debates about social welfare policies in the United States.
In this piece, Ramón Rivera-Servera explores the gender, sexuality and racial politics surrounding the dance style perreo, the dance associated with reggaetón. Rivera-Servera reframes the discussion of perreo from a dance that objectifies women to one that can be a space for women, queer people, Afro-Latinx people, and others to express their sexualities and identities.
Popular Media Articles:
Katelina Eccleston, "Villano Antillano is Making History: 'We Have to be Proud and Stand Tall," Rolling Stone, August 3, 2022.
Jessica Roiz, "What It's like to Be Part of Bad Bunny's Inclusive Dance Team: Meet the Dancers," Billboard, April 12, 2022