Tokischa’s meteoric rise has led to divisions. To some, she is a sexual deviant who endangers children, or a victim of neglect and difficult circumstances. To others, she is a self-objectifying woman who only fulfills male fantasies. And to still others, she is a fearless feminist whose rebellious spirit is groundbreaking. Last summer, she performed in Santo Domingo at the Dominican Pride parade, featuring trans women as extras and dancers in the video for ‘Linda’, which was praised by the entire LGBTQ community. The beauty blog Byrdie wrote that she is “actively moving the needle away from the male gaze to the liberation of women,” in a Latin music industry that often favors white performers.
However, it has not all been rosy. Last fall, feminist activists and the Colombian vice president condemned the portrayal of black women in Tokischa and J Balvin’s video for “Perra,” in which black women wear prosthetics that portray them as dogs, and Balvin, a white Colombian, walks an actress. out, who is on all fours with a chain around her neck.
After the video was removed from YouTube, Balvin apologized. Tokischa later told Rolling Stone that she was “sorry that people were offended,” but that the image was conceptual and meant to illustrate the song’s metaphors. “We were in the Dominican Republic; there, we’re all black,” she said of the Resistance in a podcast interview in December. “It wasn’t like we went to Africa or the United States to find those women.” Unsurprisingly, the comment drew criticism from some fans on Twitter for dismissing well-founded concerns about the animalistic portrayal of black women.
The response illustrated how fans are increasingly demanding progressivism from pop stars, especially disruptors like Tokischa. “Since the first day I started making music, I said, ‘I’m going to speak my truth,'” she said. In a radio interview last year she made it clear in a different way: “I only talk about myself, my life,” she said. “I don’t feel I’m responsible for restoring society.”
Tokischa is still an agitator, and a necessary one. “Don’t be afraid to express my sexuality, my way of thinking — it’s a beautiful thing,” she said. “There are a lot of people who are afraid to say who they are because they’ve been kicked out of their homes, fired from their jobs, lost friends. But you’re not bad – you do what your heart tells you.”
“I have many more messages to offer,” she continued. “But now is the time for this one message, and I love it.”