El Toto y La Política Femenina: Amara La Negra & Misogyny
I love my pussy. I talk about it at length. I can speak on my pussy as the yoni, a temple and sacred portal of life or brag about its bounty and talent the same way a man can. So you can imagine my reaction when I was put on to Amara La Negra and El Chevo’s “Toto” remix. I thought it was hilarious.
But the reason I am even speaking on my favorite topic is because of the backlash Amara “La Negra” Santos has received in Quisqueya and online for the song.
The song will receive no air time on radio stations in Quisqueya because it is considered far too vulgar and distasteful. The arguments range from Amara having no respect for herself, accusations of selling her pussy for cheap thrills and making the situation difficult for women in Quisqueya who are already seen as objects in regards to sexual tourism, to others praising her for being so bold. I am aware of a few things as a woman whose parents migrated from Quisqueya to this country, the United States. I do not pretend to understand life for women in Quisqueya but I do understand the machismo that runs rampant in the country. I understand the level of hypersexualization women, particularly visually Black Quisqueyana women, have dealt with historically and how that impacts their life. As a citizen of the United States, I am no stranger to both seeing African-descendant artists such as Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Erykah Badu, Lil’ Kim and others take on the subject of their sexuality in various ways and meeting both praise and criticism.
It seems that there are various layers to why Amara is experiencing all these things. It is curious that it is perfectly okay for her to be sexualized and desired before this song but when she does it to herself, it is problematic. I took a visit to her Instagram page and was disgusted at some of the ways men and women alike spoke to her. It was like seeing the equivalent of cat-calling but written out. Yet not once in the conversation about this particular song have there been any criticisms of the many other songs released by Quisqueyano singers over the years throughout the genres (namely bachata, merengue, salsa and reggaeton) that objectify, degrade, disrespect and harm women. There is no conversation about the Quisqueyan culture teaching men to dominate women to the point that there is femicide, which is suspected to stem from this need to control women.
On the other hand, I critique Amara’s song from a womanist point of view. I understand that her song is speaking about how much a man loves her pussy and is lucky to have come across it. The song was not done for political motivations. It is still part of the patriarchal thought that women are consumable and only good for one thing. I can wish for more substance. There are two sides to the coin here. I have embraced the idea that empowerment can come in different styles, especially as we continue the process of decolonization in Quisqueya and in the Diaspora. To demand sophisticated displays of female empowerment is arrogant, only because there are various facets to what that means in contemporary society.
In the media, there are few advancements in the roles Quisqueyanas and other women of color are playing. I ran a search online for what is being depicted in the American media and it lacks in creativity. I got mostly the names of video vixens and models of Quisqueyan descent, with women such as Laura Gomez & Dascha Polanco of Orange is The New Black, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Omahyra (of XMen) coming up in actress roles. There weren’t many with dark skin such as Amara but the roles they had in some way upheld the stereotype of Quisqueyana women as either crazy or sexually appealing. It is a double edge sword to contend with.
Thank you for such a powerful piece!