Wednesday, May 18

Rebeca Lane: “If we don’t say yes with desire, then it’s a no”

The fourth song on Rebeca Lane’s new album is called No means no. A slogan that has been chanted for a few years at feminist demonstrations to talk about consent and sexual abuse. “The men say that now they are confused, that they only flirt, that it is only seduction,” sings the Guatemalan rapper and sociologist.

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There are macho concepts on which it seems that progress is being made but which are still rooted, and this is one of the main ones. The controversy with the streamer El Xokas and his joke about “taking girls who are stoned” from the disco. Even Lane, who is only passing through Spain to present To flourish, his second album, has learned of the statements.

“The clever thing would be if you could get a girl to genuinely care about you without having to take any kind of drug,” he replies. Rebeca arrives with her daughter Valentina on her lap, whom she breastfeeds and takes care of without losing the thread of the interview. “That’s why culture is important. Because if people don’t change their mindset or respect the other person’s wishes, the law is a dead letter,” she says. Many of her lyrics deal with male violence, sexual harassment and empowerment precisely because of that. “It is what allows us at a social level to take away the normalization of abuse.”

No means no “It’s a song to tell men only yes is a yes, but also to reassure girls who feel insecure. Many times we don’t say no, because the situation doesn’t allow it, but we don’t say yes either. And if we don’t say yes with desire and with pleasure, then it’s a no. Consent is something that seems to be talked about a lot, but then we have cases like this.”

To flourish It was going to be a different album, with part of sociological research and shared experiences with other Guatemalan women. But the pandemic arrived, the social distance, the pregnancy and, six months ago, little Valentina. “I did it thinking of girls and young people who in ten years will listen to it and transmit all these messages to them in a loving way. But above all I did it with her in mind (her daughter) ”, he reveals. There are songs dedicated to menstruation (Red flowers), to self-pleasure (give me love), femicides (we want each other alive) and to chosen and consented maternity (I chose you). All of them will sound on April 28 at the Cadavra room, in Madrid.

Every 46 minutes a rape is committed in Guatemala and the Latin American country is one of those that registers the worst numbers of femicides, so this album is an act of brave activism there. “Still, look, I was more afraid that my baby was a boy,” she admits. “Before I wanted a future where there is no violence against women with all girls and women in mind, but now I have Valentina as the main character. Her future has a specific face and it is hers, ”explains the singer.

I chose you It is a song to the social pressure on women. She has been a mother for 36 years and for this decision she was singled out for a long time. On the other side of the coin, the opposite and even more horrifying case: that of girl mothers. “The first few weeks you don’t sleep, the baby is very demanding, your nipples hurt, the cesarean section hurt me, you have hormones up and down all the time. It is a time of great vulnerability. Imagining a girl going through this hard gives me the creeps,” explains Lane. In another of her topics, she mentions a nine-year-old girl who was raped by her brother and forced to give birth in Costa Rica. “They are all real cases, not exaggerations,” she says.

“My wish is that all maternities are chosen. That no woman is forced to give birth, that all women have the conditions to do so”, she claims. She makes reference to the fact that since she gave birth, she does nothing but receive messages from other women exaggerating her maternal instinct. “In a photo you don’t see the hours of sleeplessness or the pain in the body. I also wanted to reflect that in the song. On the internet everything looks very nice, but in real life it is a strenuous job.”

In defense of enjoyment

Rebeca Lane is one of the most active and powerful voices in America for her defense of feminism, the LGTBI community or historical memory. At first she did it from social organizations and activism, but later she decided to practice it from a more “safe” place. “They kidnapped comrades, they tapped our phones and the military told us in all the demonstrations that they knew who we were and they were going to kill us. I felt the death threats on my neck,” she says.

He decided to start with rap, a genre underground and with a very macho atmosphere. But then hymns like Free, daring and crazyeither Not one less, with which he became the benchmark of the Guatemalan genre. “In these types of scenarios there is a lot of network involved and it is very hard and very violent,” he acknowledges. In To flourish, rap and hip hop are not so present. It has allowed itself to open up to other melodic genres but without abandoning reggaeton, cumbia and the party or the committed messages. “Before I chose the music for the demonstrations and there are times when my songs are played now and it is a great gift,” she is grateful.

He assures that despising reggaeton or reducing it to labels hides a “racist vision”. “These are rhythms that are born from the African diaspora and that begin to be generated in groups of people who were stripped of their territoriality and their language. It is seen as something lower class and with a lot of racism. In Guatemala it also happens with cumbia”, he assures.

As for the criticism for the messages that denigrate women, there are alternatives and Rebeca Lane is one of them. “My mom put us on a station that was pure merengue, salsa and cumbia, and we danced all afternoon. I very much claim the right to enjoyment because I grew up with a Christian education and they instilled in me that the body is a source of sin”, she recalls.

However, he advocates “returning to these rhythms with great respect too, because certainly now that it is much more commercial, I think there are many artists who are rising. When it comes to cultural appropriation, it is wanting to pretend to be something they are not, ”she criticizes. “Before putting on gold teeth in hip hop was done in a very particular context and it was something very bad, as they say here, and now the artists of the moment are putting them on. You have to remember the roots and have historical memory”, she concludes.