Cultural Activist Mini-Assignment for Women’s Studies: Shakira’s “She Wolf”

Being that I rather enjoy Shakira’s song, “She Wolf”, the following essay may be biased, but nonetheless I will attempt to respond to the song’s meaning critically.

 

Portraying the woman as an animal with guaranteed prey may bring to mind the concept of Latina women as being man-eating “brujas”, capable of ensnaring men with their magic and wiles (or in Shakira’s case, “a special radar”), but I will posit that it is simply a case of reacting to and revolting against being burned out by her oppressed, over-worked, under-appreciated station in life. Shakira says this plainly in the lines:

 

I’ve been devoting myself to you Monday to Monday and Friday to Friday.

Not getting enough retribution or decent incentives to keep me at it.

I’m starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office,

so I’m gonna go somewhere cozy to get me a lover and tell you all about it.

 

One could also argue that Shakira is attempting to subvert the largely upheld belief in the good woman/bad woman dichotomy. With the following lyrics:

 

S.O.S. she’s in disguise.

S.O.S. she’s in disguise.

There’s a she wolf in disguise,

coming out, coming out, coming out

There’s a she wolf in your closet.

Open up and set her free.

There’s a she wolf in your closet, let it out so it can breathe.

 

she is trying to make the listener realize that women are not only “good” (‘domesticated’, submissive, adhering to all white male societal rules) or “bad” (disobedient, antagonistic sluts)… but that most are somewhere in between, or have the potential to be – if you would just “let them out”.

I also believe the song speaks to our need to re-examine the constructs of body vs. mind and flesh vs. spirit. In it, Shakira expresses the desire to have “a very good time and behave very bad in the arms of a boy”. The song may seemingly betray feminism’s attempts at rejecting the centuries-long held belief that women are strictly “natural” (read: sexual) and never “spiritual” or of sound intellect, but I believe it underscores the fact that women are all; body, mind, flesh, and spirit. Not only must we accept that women are all, but we must nurture them all. Yes, women can be intelligent and successful in normally male-held professions, but we must not ignore our other aspects. We must take care of our “bodymindspirits” — otherwise, according to Shakira, you may get a she wolf coming out of the closet. And she will definitely get her way.

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Favorites from last year

There are a few songs I love from last year:

“Hey There Delilah” by The Plain White T’s (my then-3-year-old learned a few words, and would sing them every time the song came on… “oh, what you dooo meee”!)
*I thought the singer would be a cute, slightly geeky, “alternative” brunette, but turns out, not so cute.

“Apologize” by One Republic (I first heard the Timbaland remix, and that’s the one I fell in love with, but really, both the original and remix are awesome)
*Again, I heard the vocals and imagined an “alternative” looking handsome brunette, but then I saw the video, and man! I wasn’t prepared to see a blond, GQ looking cutie. Whoa.

“No One” by Alicia Keys (my 4-year-old asked this evening, on our way home: “Mommy, what is this song name called?” I said, “No One”, and she said, “No, what is its name?” I guess that would be confusing for a toddler!)
*Love the beat and her vocals toward the end. Amazing.

There are a few movies I watched that I have to recommend:

“Waitress” with Keri Russell
“The Painted Veil” with Naomi Watts
“King Creole” with Elvis Presley
“Volver” with Penelope Cruz
“Everything is Illuminated” with Elijah Wood
“The Illusionist” with Edward Norton
“Little Miss Sunshine” with Toni Collette

Yes, I realize some of those are way old. Watch them anyway!