Mexico music video showing woman murder sparks outrage
A man finds his lover in bed with another man. He pulls a gun, shoots the rival dead, ties up the woman, drags her to a car, stuffs her in the trunk and smiles as he sets it on fire.
“Fuiste Mia” (“You were mine”), a slick music video by the Mexican-American singer Gerardo Ortiz, has garnered more than 25 million views on YouTube — and provoked a furious backlash in a country that suffers from an ingrained culture of sexual violence and where killings of women have surged.
The 25-year-old Ortiz has a long list of “narcocorridos” — or “narco ballads” — to his credit, a controversial yet hugely popular genre that celebrates the feats of Mexico’s drug lords and is banned from the airwaves in many places.
But none of his videos has attracted as much attention as “Fuiste Mia,” which appeared just as two high-profile sexual harassment cases were making headlines in Mexico — and prompted him to cancel several concerts.
Stuffing a woman in a skimpy nightgown into a trunk is reminiscent of the tactics of Mexico’s drug gangs, who often dump bodies, sometimes hacked to pieces and with notes attached to them, inside cars.
Speaking at a press conference from southern California, where he lives as a US citizen, Ortiz said the “horrible publicity” surrounding the video had the merit of raising awareness of femicide, or the violent killing of women.
But his argument did little to appease critics in Mexico.
Videos like this one “objectify women, glorify violence, and reaffirm stereotypes about women causing problems for men and therefore deserving punishment,” said Lucia Lagunes, head of Women’s Communication and Information, a rights NGO.
The subject is highly sensitive in a country where nearly half of all women over the age of 15 — 47 percent — have suffered some form of sexual violence, according to government statistics.
The Mexican interior ministry condemned the singer by name in a statement expressing “profound rejection of this type of content, and in particular, the video of singer Gerardo Ortiz.”
The video “clearly invites violence against women, in addition to minimizing and normalizing this social scourge,” it said.
Ortiz’s video also caught the attention of officials in the western state of Jalisco, who issued a summons for the singer for questioning. Two years ago police seized six AK-47 assault rifles and a grenade launcher at the upscale home in Jalisco where the video was filmed.
– Objectifying women –
Some 600 women have been murdered in the State of Mexico, which nearly surrounds Mexico City, in the past four years, according to the non-governmental National Citizen Observatory of Femicides.
The State of Mexico now competes with Ciudad Juarez, the city bordering the United States that became infamous for its spate of femicides, for the grim title of the most dangerous place for women in the country.
At the other end of the spectrum of violence, examples of sexual harassment and abuse abound in the country, where two recent cases have seen women victimized for speaking out.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, a 26-year-old US reporter called Andrea Noel posted online security camera footage showing how a man approached her from behind on a street in Mexico City, lifted her dress and pulled her underwear down to her ankles.
Instead of eliciting sympathy, Noel was savaged on social media with critics saying her clothes and lifestyle were an invitation to harassment.
Noel eventually fled Mexico after receiving death threats.
In a similar case, a young woman from the eastern state of Veracruz, named Daphne Fernandez, was subjected to online harassment after she spoke out about sexual abuse one year earlier at the hands of four young men who are the sons of influential local personalities.
– Mexico’s violent reality –
Norma Mora, a gym instructor who experienced an assault similar to Noel, says she wishes she could somehow “avenge” all victims of sexual violence on Mexico’s streets.
At one point, she made plans to buy a stun gun, pepper spray and a club for self-defense — before she realized a change of attitude among men was what was really needed.
That, she says, will be a titanic task.
“Mexico is a very macho country, and violence against women is deeply ingrained,” she said.
One group of activists has gathered more than 4,000 signatures on the Change.org website to persuade YouTube to pull the Ortiz video.
But that will do little to stop the violence, said Manuel Valenzuela, an expert in narcocorridos at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte.
And for as long as “violence and death plague the daily lives of millions of Mexicans,” he said, these songs and videos will continue to exist as a “crude mirror of our reality.”
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