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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

As a native Spanish speaker I have been exposed to the misogynistic lyrics of 2000s Reggaeton music throughout my teenage years, yet there is nothing that boosts my confidence more than dancing to those latin beats for hours on end. 

I recently experienced this here in St Andrews, during Thrillr’s Latin Flow Event, where Reggaeton music was the dominant music genre being played. Speakers filled the room with controversial lyrics which had received so much criticism online, but they were welcomed by the women in the room with excitement and energetic dance moves. 

If this genre makes us feel like this on a night out, can it be considered feminist, or at least empowering? 

Reggaeton Culture 

As revealed by its name, Reggaeton derives from Jamaican Reggae music, which was adapted to Spanish speaking culture by Jamaican workers during the construction of the Panama Canal. During this period, Reggaeton was used to consolidate the identity and culture of Afro-latinx in a setting which openly rejected blackness. 

However, as the genre became increasingly popular amongst a ‘mainstream white’ society the themes of African identity were replaced by themes of Partying and Sexuality. 

This process was described as ‘blanqueamiento’ (whitening), and created the music we listened to and criticised during the 2000s. Songs like Gasolina by Daddy Yankee which openly sexualized and objectified women and promoted outdated masculinity ideals, such as an aggressive sexual drive. 

But what I truly want to focus on is what Reggaeton music sounds like now and why this may actually have an empowering effect on us. 

Female Artists 

It was not until 2019 that women truly made a breakthrough in Reggaeton music. 

With the arrival of artists like, Karol G who rose through the charts with her song with Bad Bunny “Ahora Me LLama” and Becky G with “Mayores,” Rosalia with “Malamente” and Lola Indigo with “Akelarre,” Reggaeton began to shift away from the male exclusive sexual narrative as women ‘talked back.”

Some women directly responded to the songs of male artists by composing music which replicated the male sexual narrative, yet used a female speaker. An example of this is Karol G whose song “Ahora Me Llama” presented the image of an unattainable woman who had men at her feet. This image became a recurring trope in Reggaeton music, and isone of the reasons why we love this genre on a night out. Lyrics like hers, that remind us of our agency in the dating scene, combined with Reggaeton’s latin beats allow us to embrace our sexuality powerfully without actually having to receive male approval. 

Nonetheless, if these narratives are simply not empowering to you, Reggaeton female artists have got your back.

Spanish singers Rosalia and Lola Indigo are perfect examples of how the Reggaeton genre has been adapted by Spanish speakers all over the world in order to embrace different cultural approaches to femininity whilst maintaining the image of the unattainable woman. 

Although, this at first may seem as a male stereotype of what a desirable woman should behave like, female artists have embraced this image as a way of taking back the images of women crafted by the male gaze. By using this image and putting their own words and voices to it, female artists are able to tell their own story and emphasise the fact that a woman’s value and desirability can only be decided by herself. 

Rosalia for instance, combined this image produced by female Latin Artists with flamenco beats to create the Hit “Malamente.” Her ability to combine Latin and Spanish music and successfully capturing the essence of both cultures in itself is incredibly empowering. 

Similarly, Lola Indigo embraced Karol G’s representation of women by creating a female only dancing ensemble that would accompany her on her music career. Not only do her lyrics give ‘Girl Boss’ energy, but her journey as a musician is truly fascinating (I will not get into it now, so you will just have to trust me on this), she managed to accomplish this using only Reggaeton music. 

Hence, women’s use of Reggaeton to create their own narratives on femininity and their ability to exploit the genre to explore their passions suggests that Reggaeton can actually be feminist. 

The New Approach of Male Artists

Although this new image of femininity has been mostly crafted and portrayed by female artists it is important to bear in mind that men are also supporting this. 

Artists like Quevedo and Sebastian Yatra have joined women in their journey to dismantle the negative images of women originally conveyed in 2000s Reggaeton music. 

They have done so by depicting the male speaker as one completely taken aback by the woman’s beauty and most importantly personality. For example, in the chorus to his song ‘Lisboa’, Quevedo confesses that he is the woman’s ‘fan’ at least eight times using the sentence “Yo soy fan de ti”, shifting the focus away from the woman’s body and instead moving a bit closer to the identity of the woman as an individual. This is heightened by the rest of the song’s lyrics which establish a romantic rather than physical relationship between the male and female characters. 

Likewise, Yatra prides himself with creating lyrics that convey female and male relationships from a position of respect and equality where sexual intercourse is not the objective.

These new male approaches to Reggaeton music are not the norm, but combined with the compositions of female artists they support a feminist version of Reggaeton music that is becoming increasingly popular. 

Overall, Reggaeton music has proven to be a versatile music genre that allows minorities and women to embrace their identities. If utilised correctly it can be used to spread feminist narratives whilst still being a great genre to dance to at a club or even at home when you need a little confidence boost. 

Vera Fortun Marco

St. Andrews '26

Vera Fortun is a second-year English and IR student at the University of St Andrews. Apart from writing for Her Campus, she enjoys writing fiction prose and playing around with poetry. When she is not writing you can find her nose in a book, searching for new pieces to add to her wardrobe or seeking out new coffee shops around town.