Words ending in the letter “a” are considered feminine in the Spanish language, and those ending in “o” are considered masculine. The feminine ruidosa means “noisy”—and the feminist collective of the same name is earning its stripes by ringing the alarm about sexism in the Latinx music scene.
Latina legends like Selena Quintanilla, Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan have become household names around the world, but they are outliers in an industry that’s predominantly male-dominated. Across Latin America, women in the music industry are less frequently booked to perform and less likely to be nominated for awards—and far less likely than men to be awarded them.
That’s why Ruidosa is making so much noise.
Founded by singer-songwriter Francisca Valenzuela, the collective builds community online and off around the work of female musicians. Each year, Ruidosa Fest amplifies the voices of women in music through performances and panels. Online and around the clock, the digital platform Somos Ruidosa showcases the work of women musicians, offers up a directory of Ruidos@s and breaks down data around women’s participation and under-representation in the industry.
There’s a lot of work to do towards equality within it. “There’s a constant questioning and stigmatization,” Camilla Gonzalez, a journalist and zine creator who recently joined the small Ruidosa team, explained, “about different characteristics that are associated with femininity and being a woman.”
Gonzalez and Giovanna Roa, an activist and designer, agreed in a conversation with Ms. that they want Ruidosa to be a space for feminists but also for women across ideological spectrums—and to spark conversations about gender equality across differently-minded communities. Valenzuela also wants people in power throughout the industry to be inclusive and more self-award about bias and stereotypes within it. Most importantly, they want to foster a culture of women supporting one another instead of competing with each other, in defiance of corporate music industry structures.
For Valenzuela, who has been working in the music industry for over a decade, Ruidosa is a tool for transforming a society that devalues women’s creative work. “The aspiration is not to make a close academic circle with different language,” Valenzuela told Ms., “but bring the conversation to the ground level.”