The genre of reggaeton has often been criticized for its misogynistic and sexist lyrics. Men have held the reins in this genre of music, not only in the charts, but also in the narratives of songs, where men are usually the protagonists, while women are merely sexual objects. However, this narrative has been changing thanks to the rise of female reggaeton artists.
These up-and-coming female artists are challenging the old gender roles of the genre by expressing what they think, want, and feel – something only men did in old school reggaeton.
The rise of empowered women in reggaeton has definitely not resolved the genre’s issues with sexism and misogyny. However, seeing the success of these females is certainly a step in the right direction.
1. Becky G (USA)
Becky G is a 21-year-old Mexican-American from LA who has been at the forefront of reggaeton after the release of her 2017 single “Mayores” featuring Bad Bunny. Controversially, Becky G was forced to change the “sexual references” in the song for her performance on the Spanish television show Operación Triunfo, infuriating many fans. Becky G commented saying that male reggaetoneros would never be asked to change their sexual lyrics, pointing out the double standard in the industry.
2. Anitta (Brazil)
The 25-year old Brazilian pop star has been making headlines not only for the success of her music, but also for its content. Her song “Vai Malandra” received criticism for perpetuating the objectification of the female body, but also received praise for her decision to show her body naturally with no photoshop edits in the music video – something that is not common for women in the music industry.
3. Karol G (Colombia)
At 27 years old, the Medellin native has commented on the challenges of succeeding in the reggaeton industry as a female artist. Despite those challenges, Karol G has been rising in the charts with solo songs and collaborations with other famous artists. Her song “Mi Cama” (My Bed) not only claims her independence and freedom of choice sexually, but also economically.
4. Natti Natasha (Dominican Republic)
Another prominent figure in reggaeton, the 32-year old Dominican born singer just came out with a new album in 2019. However, she is famous for her collaboration with Becky G in a hit called Sin Pijama. The song is both a statement of sexuality as well as a comment on men’s fantasies, as the music video plays with the idea of what guys imagine a girls’ night is like – think sexy costumes and pillow-fighting. Only at the end do Natti and Becky reveal what the reality is like.
5. Greeicy Rendón (Colombia)
The 26-year old from Colombia has been gaining popularity in the industry with tracks such as “Jacuzzi” featuring Anitta. The premise is that Greeicy invites a man she met at a bar home. Notice that it is the female’s initiative to invite the man home, not vice versa as is common in stereotypical gender roles.
6. Farina (Colombia)
Another representative of Medellin, Farina challenges stereotypical gender roles with songs such as “Mucho Pa Ti”. The song encourages women to leave a relationship if they are not loved or are not satisfied, promoting self-love and independence.
7. Lele Pons (Venezuela)
The 22-year old Venezuelan American is a singer, dancer and internet personality. She engaged the theme of women’s independence with her single Celoso. The song portrays an image of Lele’s partner acting in a controlling manner, calling to see where she is and what she is doing at all times. Lele Pons points out that she does not belong to him. She is her own.
8. TINI (Argentina)
At 21-years old, the Argentine singer is already known in the US pop industry from her collaboration with Flo Rida on La Cintura (Remix). Another notable track she appears on along with three other female singers is “Lo Malo” – a song about saying ‘no’ to an unhealthy relationship with a potentially abusive partner.
9. Leslie Grace (USA)
The American singer was born to Dominican parents in New Year City. Continuing the aforementioned topic of avoiding relationships that make one unhappy, Leslie Grace’s song “De Lunes a Jueves” featuring Farina expresses her dissatisfaction with the behavior of men who only call her on the weekends.
10. Paloma Mami (USA)
Paloma is a Chilean American singer who, at 19-years-old, is still at the very early stages of her musical career. After her success on the Chilean talent show “Rojo, el color del talento”, Paloma released her first two songs in collaboration with producers Mambo Kingz & DJ Luian, both of whom regularly work with reggaeton’s biggest names. As a young female, she is already challenging gender stereotypes in the genre.
*Text and list by Pavel Kondratyev
*Photo by Alex Goykhman