Shakira shattered the “humiliated woman” cliché and made us forget her tax scandal

Shakira shattered the “humiliated woman” cliché and made us forget her tax scandal
Shakira shattered the “humiliated woman” cliché and made us forget her tax scandal

For much of this millennium we’ve lived through so far, Shakira Isabel Mebarek Ripoll has been known for three things: her thick hair, her honest hips, and, of course, her voice (which moves between the layers so quickly that it’s been likened to yodels). Now, after a career spanning more than 30 years, the “Queen of Latin Music” can add a few more things to the list: strawberry jam, being named Latin Woman of the Year opening last weekend’s Latin Women in Music gala, and scandal. Alleged tax evasion!

Shakira has had a rough year. Last September, a judge in Spain ordered that she should be tried for tax fraud. This came after her name was mentioned in the “Paradise Documents” related to foreign investments that were leaked in 2017, which consequently led to the Spanish authorities investigating her financial affairs. In the end, the Spanish government accused Shakira of defrauding the country of €14.5m (equivalent to £12.65m) in taxes between 2012 and 2014. Shakira’s legal team filed an appeal to try to stop the trial, but they lost. Had they accepted the charge and paid the required amount, the Public Prosecution Office would have reduced the prison sentence it had demanded, but this would essentially be an admission of guilt. Instead, Shakira and her defense decided to try to prove her innocence, with the result that the prosecutor asked the judge for an eight-year prison sentence for six alleged tax fraud offenses. One question made headlines and tweets all over the world: Hey, is Shakira going to jail?

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If dealing with the prison sentence threatening her wasn’t problematic enough – her trial date is still pending – last year Shakira was also embroiled in an awkward breakup with her partner of 11 years and the father of her two sons, former Barcelona star Gerard Pique. This past summer and into the fall, as the tabloids swirled stories about Shakira’s relationship breakdown and legal troubles, it looked like she might have officially entered a deep ordeal. Her record sales aren’t even close to what she did in the early 2000s — when songs like “Whenever, Wherever” and “Underneath Your Clothes” topped international charts — and she’s now a single mother on trial. . It was as if Shakira had prematurely reached the late stage of fame that wiped out so many other stars. When the golden age ends, the boom turns into financial disaster, and romance turns into cruelty.

Then came a particular gooey story about a jar of strawberry jam that changed Shakira’s internet-plagued reputation from “would-be criminal” to “extraordinary detective” virtually overnight. This jam story appears to have started in December of 2022 in a news site called Show the News Today who wrote that a Spanish TV show claimed that Shakira returned from a trip to find that someone had eaten her strawberry jam. So far, the story seems pretty mundane – but according to the tech news outlet, Gerard Pique was known to hate jam, and apparently so did their two children. And so, through the process of elimination, Shakira came to the conclusion that Pique must have been fooling around in her absence and having a good time with a sweetheart – a woman who has now been exposed and still has the scandal stuck to her hands like jam! Isn’t that enough yet? Well, shortly after Shakira and Pique’s split were announced to the public, the retired footballer also revealed his relationship to his new girlfriend, Lara Chea Marty, in the most contemporary of ways – with a thunderous official Instagram announcement. In the photo Pique shared in January, he had his face immersed in the 24-year-old’s locks, which commenters were quick to point out looked a lot like his ex-partner’s thick platinum hair.

The jam story may have sounded like a lot of fabrication, but it stuck – people soon declared that Shakira’s hips wouldn’t lie, as her hit song says, but the father of her two children sure did. Even worse, he appears to have replaced the queen of Latin music with a younger model. Thus, Shakira took on a new role: the offended woman.

As the “humiliated woman” is a metaphor that has been around for a long time and carries overtly misogynistic overtones, the expression has traditionally been everything that a woman who is considered a “sex symbol” does not represent. This is not to say that a scorned woman isn’t sexy — in fact, she is often the victim of intense philandering. After all, they are definitely also a threat. The sex symbol is seductive, but the offended woman is angry. The sex symbol satisfies the male gaze, while the humiliated woman terrifies her. In essence, the trope of humiliated women relies on the idea that a woman can be either attractive or troubled, and the fine line between the two depends entirely on the male partner’s devotion to them. Take the simple example of Glenn Close at the beginning of Fatal Attraction and compare it to the scene in which he climbs up a baby rabbit owned by the family of the man to whom she becomes pathologically attached. The message is: watch out guys, if you give up on women, you’ll go crazy!

In the aftermath of the jam scandal, it seemed as though Shakira might have been fully immersed in the role of the offended woman, an intrinsic rage that frightens men. While Pique was hanging around with a woman half her age, Shakira was supposedly dangling a “life-size witch doll” to frown at her ex-mother-in-law’s house next door. On Valentine’s Day, she posted a video on TikTok crooning SZA’s “Kill Bill,” saying, “I might kill my ex, not the best idea/ His new girlfriend will be next, how do I get there?” To her?/ I might kill my ex, I still love him though/ I’d rather be in prison than be alone. In any case, one needs to be dangerously ignorant of the media not to see the video as a kind of mockery. It’s all a show, and Shakira seemed to say: I’m angry, sure, but I’m not going to let my anger break me. Because that’s one of the problems with the trope of humiliated women – it usually gets to her in the end. She is the woman who was destroyed by her emotions, or the one who was found dead in the bathtub. There is no place here for the princess of pop music.

Instead of indulging or going on a killing spree, Shakira seems to have opted for the old joke and trick of showing what a lousy ex your jerk was for letting you get away with it. She even produced a satirical song, collaborating with Argentine music producer Bizar Rap on “Shakira & Bizar Rap Music Sessions: Part 53” – a song that digs into the depths of the humiliated woman and exposes her outwards. Shakira sings in Spanish “You left me as a neighbor to the mother-in-law… The press is on my door, the debt is in my treasury/ I thought you hurt me, but you made me stronger/ Women don’t cry anymore, women take advantage of the situation.”

Shakira leaves the Spanish court in December in the midst of her separation from Gerard Pique​​​​​​​ (Getty Images)

Referring to what she started in 2009 with her hit song “She Wolf”, which she recorded a year before she met Pique, Shakira continues in her new song: “Sorry baby, I should have kicked you out a while ago / A wolf like me isn’t for beginners / A wolf like me isn’t for men like you”. Then, in perhaps the year’s most beautiful lyric – and certainly wildest anyway – Shakira declares: “I’m twice as valuable as a 22-year-old/ I traded my Ferrari for a Twingo/ I traded my Rolex for a Casio.” She even manages to criticize the mental abilities of her exercise-obsessed ex, before uttering these immortal words: “No bad feelings, honey. I wish you the best with my supposed surrogate.” How painful. When Pique was asked in an interview with the “RACI” channel in Barcelona if he had heard the song, he replied simply: “Yes, it goes without saying. I don’t want to talk about it.” A comment that deafens the ears of the humiliated woman!

Like all stars, celebrities and beauties, Shakira has always been more of a symbol than a human being. After all, it is an icon, and the icon’s role is to act as a mediator – helping ordinary humans channel complex belief systems and fantasies. And now, through Shakira, people can finally live out their revenge fantasy. Not the kind of Hollywood blockbuster revenge in which the aggrieved party pursues those who wronged it, leaving violent ruin in the wake (although Shakira’s song’s lyrics clearly stem from anger, and she explicitly states that it is intended to “mortify” Pique). Instead, this is a revenge fantasy where the party that has been betrayed and humiliated rises up again, stronger and more powerful than before. As such, Shakira is truly the patron saint of humiliated women everywhere – going beyond the trope to give so-called “crazy bitches” everywhere a long overdue dose of satisfaction. “I feel complete,” she said in an interview with Mexican program “In the Heart with Enrique Azevedo… I believe that when a woman faces challenges in life, she comes back stronger. You learn to see your flaws, accept your weakness and express the pain you may be feeling.” .

Which brings us to last weekend, when Shakira took home the Latin Woman of the Year award. Meanwhile, Pique has reportedly asked to reduce the time allotted to him to spend with his children – from 10 days to “five or six days a month”. Sometimes fantasy overlaps with reality, and if Shakira goes to jail, maybe the world will have a song as good as the one on which she collaborated with Bizarre Rap…even if she has to wait eight years or so before she gets back in the studio.