I connect to a lot of my news and entertainment through social media. So, when I saw the news of an upcoming Latinx family comedy from the women behind “One Day At A Time,” I turned to social to get more details.
I moved my cursor to the search bar on Twitter but hesitated before typing. I knew what I was about to do was a little risky.
I typed the word ‘Latina’ and when I hit enter, I knew it would be a gamble. Sure enough, as I began scrolling through the Latina tag, I was bombarded with porn. Graphic videos of sex acts, ads for Latina cam girls and tweets looking for sexy Latina sugar babies clutter the tag. Labeled with “Hot MILFs,” “Girl on Girl,” “FFM Threesome,” “XXX” and more obscene words best not repeated, the Latina tag seems like a better place to go to get off than to find news relevant to the Latinidad.
I would love to search the #Latina tag one day and not be overwhelmed with porn
— SamTheSpooky (@teoami) September 11, 2018
Sadly, this is a pretty regular occurrence. Online, ‘Latina’ is often synonymous with porn; the fetishization earning a subcategory of its very own on just about every pornography site. Like other minorities — Black women, Asian women and plus sized women to name a few — our identity is stripped down and condensed into a sexy caricature.
When the so-called Latin Explosion brought Latinx musicians to American audiences in the early 2000’s, the public personas of stars like Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and Shakira played up this archetype with sultry dance moves and skin-tight clothing.
In movies and on television, roles like mistress Carla and prostitute Ana (Penélope Cruz), the sultry former call girl Isabella and the sexy housewife Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) and mythological Vampire Goddess Santanico Pandemonium and damsel-in-distress Rita (Salma Hayek) were portrayed as exotic, flirtatious, passionate and sex-driven. Even though capable of more nuanced work, that didn’t change the fact that the roles written for Latinas boiled down to being the girl that the movie’s protagonist got to lust over and eventually get into bed.
The concept of the over-sexed Latina is still alive despite the work of our primas and comadres before us to combat it. But why is it that this myth even became a thing to begin with? Why are Latinas seen as the “spicy” sex objects?
If you go all the way back to the very creation of film, the first recording to be banned because of obscenity was of the first woman to appear in front of the modern Edison-designed camera. Carmencita, a Spanish Vaudeville dancer, starred in the short clip. The way she tugged the bottom of her skirts — skirts short enough to show her ankles — was considered incredibly racy for the time and both she and it were seen as obscene.
Carmencita may not be the origin of the sexy stereotype, but this Spanish woman was deemed too erotic for respectable viewership. And women of Hispanic and Latinx descent have felt that ever since.
But the oversexed stigma that is associated with Latinas has been reinforced in other ways too. One of the many stereotypes that Latinas face is the one that labels us as being baby making machines. The assumption is that every Lainx family in full of excessive amounts of extraneous primos, hermanos, tias y tios.
this is an actual BULLSHIT casting listing I came across:
"a fiery character…her body is completely done; very small waist and big glutes; must be Latina; send in full body pictures."
the sexualization of latina bodies & calling them "fiery" is SO TIRED. do better.
— victoria (@victoriamarliny) September 12, 2018
This was the preconceived notion of what a Latina was and, by the 2010’s, we were sick of being typecast in our own lives. Op-eds started popping up calling for the end of the fetishization of Latinas. Young writers and sex-positive activists from the Latinidad encouraged reconceptualizing and reclaiming Latina sexuality.
This push to revamp Latina identities into the multifaceted characters that authentically represent us was actually incredibly successful. Actresses like America Ferrera, Stephanie Beatriz and Justina Machado proved that, yes, Latinas are gorgeous but they can also be funny, smart, tough, maternal and kind. Sexy is just a bonus.
In fact, Latina representation improved so much that the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that, after the 2017 TV season, Latina roles were at an all-time high. Latinas have effectively taken control of our narrative and changed it for the better.
So, why is it that I can’t search the ‘Latina’ tag on social media without being bombarded with NSFW content?
Ultimately, the fetishization of Latinas is about race. Latinas are seen as exotic yet attainable and the free consumption of our bodies is blatantly advertised on Twitter feeds everywhere. We can be lusted over and, because of class, migrants status, and race issues in the United States, we can also be had— despite resistance.
*me on a first date* so what are your thoughts on the hyper-sexualization of Latina women?
— Vanessita Meza (@MariposaWarrior) November 18, 2015
It’s frustrating to say the least. But, if I’ve learned anything in witnessing all the ways Latinas fight for our identities, I’ve learned that we’re so much more than those who would oppress us think we are. We’re more than a tweet seeking sexy Latinas for a good time.
In the meantime, as the younger generation gets both more woke and more tech savvy, here’s hoping we can get all this porn of the Latina tag. Because we’re more than just some fetish.