Tag Archives: Lise Waxer

Salsa and Sexism: Are You Mouthing Misogyny?

By Guest Contributor Rachael Kay Albers, cross-posted from Latina Fatale

It is after midnight and I’m in a taxi on the way back to my barrio, mouthing the lyrics to a song on the radio that I’m proud to know the lyrics of when, suddenly, I stop (fake) singing. Spanish is my second language and memorizing song lyrics doesn’t come as easily to me as it does in English—if I can successfully sing along to a song in a café or on the radio, I wave the useless ability like a flag. But, as I silently croon in my cab tonight, I realize that, in my quest to hone my dual language lip syncing abilities, I have paid absolutely zero attention to the content of the lyrics I’m not singing.

The song on my cabbie’s radio is “Lamento Boliviano,” (Bolivian Lament). You may know it for its famous chorus:

Y yo estoy aquí
borracho y loco
y mi corazón idiota
siempre brillará
y yo te amaré
te amaré por siempre

(And I am here
drunk and crazy
and my stupid heart
will always shine
and I will love you
I will love you forever)

As I listen carefully to the lyrics, I imagine the scene being described: a drunk, desperate man declaring his undying love to his wronged mujer after saying, in earlier lyrics, that he feels there is a volcano of rage inside of him. I have lived this scene. The drunk, desperate man “in love” is not nearly as romantic as the Enanitos Verdes — the Argentinean rock band that croons “Lamento Boliviano” — make him seem. He can be, in fact, quite dangerous, especially when he says he has an, um, “volcano” inside of him.

Ugh — sexist lyrics glamorizing alcoholism and violence in Spanish, too? I think, dumbly. How has the thought never occurred to me before? I mean, what did I expect from the music that just happened to be playing the many times I have been fondled or — I’ll just say it — humped on various dance floors across Mexico? Hip hop gets the rap in the United States for violent, misogynistic lyrics with country music coming in at second place—both deservingly. But, what about the music I’m listening to in Latin America?
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