Bad Bunny: Redefining Masculinity
By: Melissa del Carmen Gomez
Image retrieved from Architectural Digest
In 2018, Puerto Rican rapper Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio –– mostly known to the public as his stage name Bad Bunny –– was denied service at a nail salon in Spain. Why? For being male. He went to Twitter to express his disappointment, receiving backlash and questions about his sexuality instead. He later deleted his account.
In 2020, Bad Bunny released the song, “Yo Perreo Sola.” The lyrics discuss how women should go out, dance, and have fun without men bothering them. In his acceptance speech at the 2020 Billboard awards, he remarks on his lyrics once again saying, “If she doesn’t want to dance with you, respect that. Ella perrea sola.”
In 2021, he was the cover boy of Allure magazine’s November issue, wearing a blue durag and blazer, as well as eyeshadow, gloss, and jewels cascading under his eye. His nails are covered in long dominos, a popular game within Puerto Rico. Within the magazine, he is styled in pearls, makeup, as well as different looks such as a skirt with tights, a pink blazer, pink gloves, and heeled boots.
Image retrieved from @allure Instagram
Within Latino culture, this type of behavior from a man is nonexistent due to the problematic norm of machismo. Machismo is a cultural standard within Latino culture and has been a notion since Pre-Columbian times, influencing both Indigenous and European cultures. The word macho translates to male, but the stereotype of how a man should act is continually discussed within Latin countries. If a man defies the norms of how he should act, he is seen as an outsider and is typically shunned by his community.
Seeing a Latino artist like Bad Bunny is rare within the community, which is why his image makes such an impact. He isn’t afraid to be vulnerable within his lyrics, embracing femininity and discussing topics that are taboo within Latin countries: LGBTQ+ and feminist rights.
Veronica Velgara, a Mexican-American at The University of California San Diego, had some thoughts about Bad Bunny’s contributions to the Latino community. “He is challenging machismo with the way he presents himself. From what I’ve seen, guys who are brought up in a machismo environment believe in extreme gender roles. They tend to believe that a man should not be painting their fingernails, experimenting with fashion, or even calling out the issues within the community.”
The reggaeton music community has in fact expressed not only over-masculine conception within lyrics and music videos but also opinions towards the LGBTQ+ community. For instance, Don Omar, a Puerto Rican singer-songwriter has made homophobic comments. These comments, however, were immediately criticized by Bad Bunny. "Homophobia in this day and age? How embarrassing, man.”
Image retrieved from Youtube
There is still a long way to go with the Latino community and the idea of machismo. Nevertheless, Bad Bunny is definitely inspiring the younger generation. “I always hear elders discussing how men should dress or act. Bad Bunny is changing the way in showing other men that they can express themselves however they want.” Velgara explains, “I’m not saying he is changing machismo drastically, because there are still a lot of Latinx people who don’t want to change. They are more consumed in keeping up with the gender roles.”
Bad Bunny's music has continued to impact people, empowering everyone to present themselves however they want to: feminine or masculine. This type of representation is extremely important within the Latinx community, for these conversations –– often silenced or taboo –– are finally being discussed.
Written by writer Melissa del Carmen Gomez