Abstract: Reggaeton is one of the main musical and cultural exponents of the Hispanic contemporary world. Feminist analysis and criticism are common, and the style itself is evolving. Here I defend that Reggaeton is not just a feminist issue, but a class phenomenon.
In the attached clip, Spanish X-Factor judge Eva Perales strongly criticizes Reggaeton music, and more specifically, an amateur couple made of two Hispanic migrant men. Some of the sentences and arguments of Perales are:
(i) Have you ever listened something else apart from Reggaeton?
(ii) Reggaeton damages me as a woman (…) I do not like sexist lyrics (…) Why don’t you talk about women in other way?
(iii) [After mocking] Reggaeton kicks my ass.
The song, sentences and arguments from the Crazy Boys state:
(i) [Song The Maniatic Girl] Look, I fancy the Maniatic Girl (…) I like your body, and you all (…) You make me brutally horn (… ) You are easy, you flirt me and I become crazy, crazy.
(ii) [To Perales] You are abusing the weak.
(iii) Reggaeton is music too.
(iv) You are a racist of the music.
Even when this episode happened in 2008 and it might be intentionally prepared and streamed, similar scenes following same patters have happened during the last decade. In general terms, feminism activists and scholars have analyzed and criticized Reggaeton, and former and new Reggaeton singers have lately adapted (Merlyn 2020, Morales 2020, Villagra 2007). Sexism is highlighted, but Reggaeton is also considered violent and vulgar in comparison with already settled genres. The attached clip perfectly prints Reggaeton hotspots.
Reggaeton spread during the 90’s in Hispanic America among lower class societies and it tended to print their reality characterized by discrimination, sexism, violence and vulgarity. Upper class Hispanic American societies criticized and ridiculed the new style. Spanish society, richer in average and many times far from Hispanic American contemporary currents, first ignored Reggaeton and then criticized it, similarly to upper class Hispanics. However, the new style has been powerful enough to permeate into the whole Hispanic -and Global- society (Carballo 2007). On the other hand, singers are adapting and blurring its sexism, violence and vulgarity, and sometimes it is used for vindicating feminism and women. Here I remark that there also are geographical, racial and normative aspects, and all of them, together with the feminist issue, rely on a class difference.
Reggaeton spread in Hispanic American countries. Only after a decade, it was introduced in Spain among criticism. The America-Europe difference towards Reggaeton is still present. Reggaeton in Spain responds to Hispanic migrants and global tendencies more than to linguistic, cultural or historical ties. Economic standards in Spain tend to be higher than in Hispanic American countries, while Hispanic migrants in Spain tend to hold worse positions.
Inside Hispanic American countries, racially speaking Reggaeton is more popular among Hispanics than among Europeans and Caucasians. Links between race and class in Hispanic America are well known and deeply studied, showing a tendency of middle and lower classes being Hispanic mestizo and aborigines, while upper classes maintaining Caucasian features (Domínguez 2018; McCaa, Schwartz & Grubessich 1979). In Spain, Reggaeton is far more popular among Hispanic migrants.
Reggaeton has been devalued in comparison with mainstream already established genres: the norm. Reggeaton’s sexism, violence and vulgarity, derived from lower class styles and ways of living, is attacked from upper class people and established genres creators. However, as it happened with many other cultural manifestations, Reggaeton -or at least, a soft Reggaeton- is permeating, convincing global spectra and making norm.
Eva Perales and the Crazy Boys discussion was rapidly analyzed from feminism. But it is much more than a feminist matter: it is a woman criticizing sexist singers and styles, but also a Spanish criticizing two Hispanic American migrants, a white manager criticizing two dark-skinned mestizo creators, a rock lover criticizing Latin music, and ultimately, a rich person criticizing two poor people.
The real difference underlying the whole discussion is economic. Poverty and discrimination explain rough sexism among low class people, the refusal to mainstream styles and the emergence of new subversive styles. Upper class people tend to defend the establishment, in this case represented by settled genres. In the Hispanic America context, economic difference is linked to race difference, and the same economic difference partly defines differences between Spain and Hispanic America. Many times, Spanish and upper class people criticize sexism, vulgarity and violence, but they do not focus on the real problem: poverty.
Carballo, P. (2007). Reggaeton e identidad masculina. Intercambio, 3 (4), 87-101.
Domínguez, J. I. (2018). Race and ethnicity in Latin America. Routledge.
McCaa, R., Schwartz, S. B., & Grubessich, A. (1979). Race and class in Colonial Latin America: A critique. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 21(3), 421-433.
Merlyn, M. F. (2020). Tell me what you listen to and i will tell you who you are. Representing women in 100 of the more popular reggaeton songs in 2018. Feminismo/s, (35).
Morales, C. D. (2020). Una propuesta para el análisis de los estereotipos femeninos en los videoclips de reggaeton: Caso práctico de los cuatro vídeos más vistos en 2018 en YouTube. Revista Internacional de Cultura Visual, 7(1), 13-26.