Zorra What? A Eurovision Hit, Spanish Machismo And The Enduring Evil Of The «Z» Word

A debate about the Spanish entry for this year's Eurovision prompts one woman writer to challenge the benefits of re-appropriating the word «slut».


Maricón de mierda («f**king faggot»). This is what was shouted at Samuel Luiz while he was being killed on July 3, 2021. It was the first weekend nightlife had resumed after the pandemic, and the 24-year-old was eager to go out along the seafront promenade of Riazor Beach in the northwestern Spanish city of La Coruña. His murderers and their accomplices, seven men and a woman, kicked and beat him to death with «extreme cruelty», according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Pride week was celebrated. That year, the demands focused on achieving a comprehensive trans law. By then, the word maricón had been conquered by the LGBTQ+ community, stripped of the pejorative character that was thrown at Samuel, and used as a fun, affectionate, common nickname. The gay community had made the word their own.

But the re-appropriation of an insult does not necessarily change what it means. This requires time, education and for the meaning of the word, at least for the majority of people, to be detached from any negative aspect. The very foundations sustaining the affront must collapse.

This hasn’t happened with the word «faggot». Last year in Spain, hate crimes increased (again) by 33% compared to the previous year, with sexual orientation or gender identity being the second cause, after racism and xenophobia. In those incidents, the word faggot was involved.

What most likely happened is that the group it targets has adapted to the insult. Within the group it has no value as an offense, but outside of it, it does. Is that a victory?

Spanish indie singer Zahara released an album three years ago entitled puta, «whore», to denounce sexism in the music industry. In an interview for the podcast Carne Cruda («Raw Meat»), she talked about how someone called her that word when she was 12, and it forever warped her relations with boys and men.

Yes, the temptation to turn the tables and change the meaning of words is powerful. What woman hasn’t been called a whore or a slut at some point? Wouldn’t it be nice to take it back?

The debate over the new Nebulossa song, «Zorra» («Slut»), qualified for the upcoming Eurovision contest seems as artificial to me as it is useless for the feminist battle. It’s a false idea as old as the hills: that a woman who goes out late or has an active sex life is considered a slut and a man doing as much is only an Iberian macho.

Not a protest song

There may be certain currents of feminism opposed to the participation of the band at Eurovision with the song in question. But beyond feuds and frozen debates, what is shown here is a savage hypocrisy seasoned with political tactics and a handful of marketing campaigns.

«Slut» is not a word that empowers any woman. It is an insult that only empowers the abuser, the crouching harasser, the hungry sexual offender, the ever-ready sexist. Pretending to give it a different meaning is naive, to say the least.

Either cardboard empowerment or fascism

The song will be presented at the Eurovision, an event that transcends music. It has become one of the great events for the LGBTQ+ community, a great advocate for their rights, with participants who have become true icons. Eurovision is, of course, also about showing-off and frivolity.

Elevating «Zorra» by Nebulossa to the category of a protest song is grotesque. The alleged demand for women’s freedom, danced by two men aesthetically enslaved, clad in corsets and improbable thongs, is the essence of the paradox. Provocative, yes. Catchy, too. But a revival of the theme of liberation? Please.

«Feminism is fun…» That was the comment from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez about the song, placing us in the false dilemma of either «Zorra» or «Cara al Sol» (the anthem of the Spanish Falange, the fascist political organization created in 1933 which General Francisco Franco later based his regime on).

Either cardboard empowerment or fascism. He even raised his voice, as if he were telling us about it, drink in hand, in some random bar.

Viral obscenity

This bogus cause should remind us of those students from the Elías Ahúja College in Madrid who shouted to their classmates from Santa Mónica, like primates from their dorm windows: «Whores, come out of your burrows like rabbits. You are all nymphomaniac whores. We promise you are all going to f**k at the capea [university party]».

It went viral. They defended themselves by saying that it was a tradition and a harmless university game between male and female newbies, but the incident ended up reaching the Prosecutor’s Office. The political debate heated up, with no disagreement about the facts, but rather a competition on who could condemn the strongest. And many Santa Monica students (those who had not reported the insults, of course), came out to help their classmates and neighbors: «They are our friends, it was just a joke».

Do not distract us women with sterile and artificial debates

This is no laughing matter. More than one in five young Spanish people believe that insulting their partner, or pushing them, or even hitting them after an argument is not abuse. It will depend, some say, on the context in which they call them – us – sluts.

Is it a question of whether the atmosphere, like the prime minister’s feminism, is fun or not? As if we had not already witnessed hordes of predators or soccer players who think sex and insults go together, convinced that victims experienced pleasure from being raped. Or politicians who forget their ideology at the office and once home bang on doors shouting «open up, slut».

Do not distract us women with sterile and artificial debates, with more «postcard» marketing using feminist consciousness. As long as there’s even one woman who feels humiliated by someone calling her «slut», the word will not change its meaning.

This content is part of a collaboration agreement of ‘WorldCrunch’, with the magazine ‘Ethic’. Read the original at this link.