Why do Spanish musicians show their breasts?

by Lorraine Williamson
Eva Amaral showing her breasts

MADRID – Four decades after the nude portrait of the actress Pepa Flores in the magazine Interviú, showing the breast in Spain remains controversial. “The female body is still not seen as natural.” 

So says María Silvestre, professor of sociology at the University of Deusto. Last Saturday, Spanish singer Eva Amaral decided to take off her top during her performance at the Sonorama festival in Aranda de Duero. “This is for all women,” she said, before baring her breasts ahead of her song “Revolución.” The target? Defending the dignity and freedom of women. 

However, this act was more than just a statement. It was a sign of solidarity with other Spanish artists who have also chosen nudity as a form of protest for women’s rights. 

Rocio Saiz 

In June, a concert by singer Rocío Saiz in Murcia was interrupted by police after she took off her top. An action that she says she has been doing during performances for more than 10 years. The police later apologised for the interruption, stating that a police officer had acted “incorrectly”. 

Riogberta Bandini 

Last year, Rigoberta Bandini’s song ‘Ay Mamá’, an ode to motherhood, became a feminist anthem in Spain. The singer received both praise and criticism for displaying her breasts during a rendition of this song. Amaral also referred to singer Bebe, who was mocked in 2011 after showing her breasts during a concert in Logroño. 

Actions supported by feminist politicians 

These actions are not only supported by the music industry. Feminist politicians, including Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz and Equality Minister Irene Montero, have expressed their support for Amaral and her colleagues. 

Nuria Varela, involved in the creation of Spain’s first Ministry of Equality in 2008, argues that these actions stem from a sense of “enough” from the rollback of women’s rights in recent years. 

“Female bodies remain a battleground” 

The history of Spain has played a significant role in this. Female nudity was not seen as a form of rebellion and sexual liberation against a strict Catholic system until the late 1970s and 1980s, during the transition to democracy. Varela says: “It seems that despite our constant struggle, our bodies are still not ours. Female bodies remain a battleground.” 

The feminist group Femen is known for their topless protests. Moreover, they played a more important role in the Spanish feminist movement than in other European countries, according to Varela. 

Silvestre noted that Amaral’s message, while powerful in words, probably wouldn’t have received as much attention if she hadn’t shown her breasts. She also points out the dual position taken by society. On the one hand, the breast is used by feminism as a means of attention and protest. Meanwhile, on the other hand, the female breast continues to be eroticised or even censored on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. 

While it’s true showing the female nipple doesn’t spark the same public outcry it did decades earlier, it remains problematic. Outside of Spain, there are examples such as Madonna, who showed off her chest at a concert in Istanbul in 2012. Recently, she has challenged Instagram several times, posting topless photos on her profile. The social network subsequently removed all photos in which a nipple or part of it was visible. 

Also read: Covering breasts is “sexualisation” and “discrimination” 

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