Editor’s note: Ximena N. Beltran Quan Kiu is a communications specialist and writer based in Chicago. The opinions expressed here are her own. Read more Opinion on CNN.
Last week, Shakira did with former soccer star Gerard Pique what every person who has been abused and underappreciated by their partner wishes they could. She brushed off his ego and in the process reminded herself – and the world – of what she could do.
Within 24 hours, “BZRP Music Session #53”, her latest single alongside Argentinian producer and DJ Bizarab, achieved a record 63 million views on YouTube and 14.4 million streams on Spotify. The catchy pop song is a great addition to the breakup canon, but it’s more than just a competent track about her ex and father of her two children. By airing her grievances in such a public forum, Shakira made an explosive and significant cultural statement by refusing to carry any shame associated with the end of their relationship.
But herein lies the difficulty. Not everyone agrees with her approach. The headlines around her single took on a sexual tone and described her behavior as “frivolous”, calling the song a “retaliation hit”. Social media users are wondering if Shakira broke an unwritten rule among women by pulling out the flame of her new ex. Others are happy to watch the drama unfold while judging her for posting her dirty clothes.
We’ve heard the stigmatization of women experiencing heartbreak before. Most notably with Taylor Swift. In a 2014 interview, Swift responded to criticism that she was drawing on her past experiences.
“You’re going to have people who are going to say, ‘Oh, you know, like she only writes songs about her ex-boyfriends,'” the singer said. “And I honestly think that’s a very sexist angle. Nobody says that about Ed Sheeran. Nobody says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love lives, and nobody raises a red flag there.”
And she is right. Just look at Bad Bunny. His Spanish-language album “Un Verano Sin Ti” broke record after record and claimed the number one spot for Billboard’s album of the year. The title translated means “Summer Without You” — its sad theme is placed directly into the title and repeated throughout the majority of his 23 songs. However, online searches for the Puerto Rican singer, along with his album title, do not immediately lead to criticisms from those around him for monetizing it. His love life – it pays tribute to his genius and creativity.
In a viral tweet posted the same day the song was released, user Melanie Mora Murillo broke down all the subtle ways Shakira takes her intimate knowledge of Pique and turns it into a weapon, leaving little doubt (if there is any) who she’s referring to. Highlights from the topic include: pointing out how Bizarrap samples eclipse “Me Enamoré” (“I Fell in Love”), a 2017 song Shakira performed about her relationship with Pique at the time, and highlighting how Shakira repeats her lyrics to insinuate to numerology. in their relationship. At 2:22, she sings “I’m more vulnerable than a 22-year-old,” not only a reference to Piqué’s much younger girlfriend (now 23; he turns 36 next month) but the former couple’s shared birthday on February 2, 10 years apart. . She also uses Piqué’s signature gesture of holding up two fingers on both hands.
To truly appreciate the heat behind the song, you have to watch it paired with the video, where Shakira’s body language adds another layer of complexity. The camera focuses on her when she attacks her former flame, she takes up space and throws her body around her, showing confidence and strength. It’s a far cry from “Monotonía”, which was released in October 2022. In the music video for Monotonia, she spends most of the time crying, looking disheveled and singing “It wasn’t my fault, nor yours, the monotony was to blame.”
And this is where we really see Shakira raising the jets, saying (with a pretty pointed play on the words on her ex-husband’s last name to boot) “I understand it’s not my fault if I get criticized, I just play the music, sorry if I dirty you.” Her effect of saying “she’s just making music” is the only time she takes a modest approach, appropriating stereotypes of women as weak and soft to her advantage.
She puts her troubles at his feet and offers insight into what keeps her up at night — having his mother as a neighbor, the press hounding her not only about the breakup but also for tax evasion where, if convicted, she faces an eight-year prison sentence and a nearly $25 million fine (she has repeatedly denied the charges). to her). Having navigated the obstacles she faces after his departure, things that would be crushing under normal circumstances, she doubles down on her faith in herself and brings the traitorous other women into the fold by saying, “Women no longer cry, women profit from money.”
This song may have been made as a labor of survival — she calls it “healing” and sings that she has to “solve” herself from her pain — but there’s no denying that it’s money-making and shows the world she’s still getting it. It definitely makes money. But by being so open about what she’s going through, she’s stepped up to her strength and won. I rejected societal expectations and pressures to act a certain way as a long-term relationship ended. In the process, it achieved the biggest Spanish-language exposure in Spotify history (a remarkable feat in the post-Bad Bunny “Un Verano Sin Ti” era).
As a woman whose ex-partner is now her ex–a painful reminder of what happens when you accept less than you deserve–Shakira works to remind others of a universal truth. There is no guide to the worst moments in your life. There is a very good chance that someone will criticize you for everything you do during therapy, so you may as well do whatever feels right for you.