El perreo is everywhere: in the dance clubs, in house parties, in teenager’s rooms and proms. It happens spontaneously when, with the help of some good Reggaeton, girls and women start circling their hips, rubbing their bottoms against a male’s crotch, bending hasta abajo to the beat.
Some people applaud them in encouragement, others shake their head in disgust, but everyone stares because there’s no way of getting your eyes off a girl who knows how to get down.
Since the explosion of Reggaeton in 2006 there has been much discussion among Latinos regarding the genre, which is male dominated, and whether its sexualized lyrics degrade and objectify women in an already sexist society. However, I would like to skip the discussion over reggaeton as a genre and focus specifically on the perreo dance.
El Perreo is one of many copulative dances which, as the name suggests, simulate sexual activity. Perreo (from the word Perro -dog in Spanish) is specifically meant to suggest “canine sexual activity” because the man is usually behind the woman.
The question of whether dancing perreo demeans women has been answered from many perspectives. One position argues that women, who engage in this sexual form of entertainment, degrade themselves by presenting their bodies as objects for the pleasure of men. Along those lines, some people seem to think that since it’s the woman’s choice to put herself in such position(s), women themselves contribute to the degradation of the gender.
I strongly disagree with these ideas. I believe these opinions are a form of benevolent sexism; in trying to protect women from sex crimes and social stigmas, we condemn their choice to be sexual in public. Thanks to religious beliefs and absurd Freudian theories, women are often seen as only passive objects of sex (as opposed to subjects). Female sexual desire is often not acknowledged, let alone encouraged.
However, with dances like el perreo women find an opportunity to be freely sexual outside of an intimate situation; to move their bodies, which are full of raging hormones in continuous change, as they please. It provides a place in which she can own her sexual drive, be proud of it and show the world how desirable she is. Women are sexual creatures, they should be able to embrace their sexuality and, (why not?) flaunt it. If men are constantly making (demeaning) sexual remarks and it’s considered “normal”; why then do we judge a woman when she decides to turn around, get really close and dance until the guy behind her is out of air? Why is it not okay for women to let their sexual beings out?
Although many Latinas may be seen as “easy” or “indecent” because of their dancing, we have liberated ourselves to the extent that we can now be empowered by our sexuality through dance. It does not make us promiscuous, it makes us free because as Ivy Queen wisely puts it “eso no quiere decir que pa’ la cama voy”.