Woo-hoo, I’m back, folks! I’m all moved into the new digs and am 95% unpacked. And being unpacked means I can refocus on work (teaching/research) . . . which in turn means that I can procrastinate in earnest and get back to blogging. Yay!
As ever before, I’m riled up about representations of Latin@s in the media–in this case, the international media. For this just in: 18 Again, a ”vaginal tightening” gel from India promises to make you feel “like a virgin” at any age. Which, of course, is just what every woman wants because the first time is always so pleasurable and all. (Fun fact that I must mention here: my first time was with a guy who had the surname of “Laycock.” Yes, Laycock. I’m serious–you can’t make this sh*t up!) I found out about this lovely product from this post over at Jezebel.
So what does this have to do with Latin@s? Well, check out the video for 18 Again:
Surely you will notice that the couple at the center of the video performs salsa- and tango-inspired moves to a hodgepodge of “Latin” sounds, including strumming, flamenco-style guitars; bongo drums; conga rhythms; and even a shrill samba whistle, thrown in for good measure. Why is this music playing instead of something more specific to the culture that produced the product?
The answer seems obvious to me: In the minds of many people–in the US and clearly well beyond–Latin@s have a lock-down on all things sexual. Because we are by nature hot-blooded, passionate, sensuous, ready to bust out salsa moves at the drop of a hat…ugh. I find this stereotype so exasperating.
It reminds me of a feature article I read in Glamour back in the late 1990s. The title was something like, “10 Reasons to Try a Latin Lover.” The piece began by saying, “Fortunately, you don’t have to be Columbian, Brazilian or Puerto Rican to experience the prowess of Latin men!” It also included several testimonies from white women whose world had been rocked when they slept with said “Latin” men. One of the women dreamily observed, “I loved dating Ramon. He was literally HOT to the touch!”
Just thinking about this article makes me want to vomit. At the time, I was so irate I had to pen an angry letter to the editor explaining why the article was so offensive. I clearly recall that my letter began, “Fortunately, ‘you don’t have to be Columbian, Brazilian or Puerto Rican’ to realize how stupid this article is.”
So here’s a special announcement for the makers of 18 Again and anyone else who cares to perpetuate this pernicious ethnic stereotype: Latin@s do not have any special sexual secrets, techniques or powers. Although our skin may come in various shades of brown and our families sometimes come from tropical regions, we are just like any other group of people when it comes to sex. And not every “Latin lover” is worthy of the title. Trust me, I know, I’ve been with some of them. They’re not always worth writing home about!