Construction of Romantic Love, Ideals of Couples and Gender Relations from the Lyrics of Norteña Music and Banda Sinaloense

    Reception: April 29, 2020

    Acceptance: June 15, 2020


    Popular music constructs cultural narratives about romantic love, makes visible meanings of being a man and a woman, and practices related to gender violence. In this article we analyze the construction of romantic love as well as couple ideals in the lyrics of Sinaloa norteña and banda music. We conducted a thematic content analysis of 29 romantic ballads. We present the results in the categories of couple search, daily coexistence, eroticism, and separation from the couple. We conclude that myths and beliefs about romantic love are disseminated in the lyrics of the songs. These meanings recreate roles and interactions established by gender mandates, and crystallize conditions of violence and inequality between men and women.

    Keywords: , , , ,

    construction of romantic love, ideals of couples and gender relations from the lyrics of northern music and sinaloense band

    Popular music creates cultural narratives about romantic love, it makes cultural narratives on being men and women visible, as well as it does with practices related to gender violence. This article analyzes the construction of romantic love, as well as ideals of couples in the lyrics of northern music and band Sinaloa. We carried out a thematic content analysis on 29 romantic ballads. We presented results in the categories of the search of a partner; everyday life together; eroticism and the splitting of couples. We concluded that song lyrics spread myths and beliefs on romantic love. These meanings recreate roles and interactions established by gender mandates, and they crystallize conditions of violence and inequality between men and women.

    Keywords: gender violence, love, popular music, qualitative research, Mexico.

    Popular music provides access to ways of living and allows the understanding of society. Its users appropriate it, transform it, generate identities, construct cultural stereotypes and gender roles (Finnegan, 2002; Hormigos-Ruiz et al., 2017). In Mexico, norteño music1 and the Sinaloense band2 have given voice to different socio-cultural experiences; they have crossed borders and increased their popularity by spreading sentimental and romantic content, beliefs, symbols, values and aspirations of youth populations (DeNora, 2017; J. L. Valenzuela et al., 2017). The taste is so deep-rooted that Mexico has the recognition of "musical heart of Latin America" (Narváez, 2017).

    Burgos and Simonett (2020) propose that banda and norteño musicians and composers maintain their trajectory from a transnational logic. Their production impacts both sides of the border between Mexico and the United States. The transnational scope has been given by the circulation of music through information and communication technologies among which digital social networks stand out together with those of migration (Ragland, 2009); the promotion and flow of performers born or residing in the United States with family ties in Mexico -or vice versa-; also because Sinaloa, California and Arizona have been articulated as epicenters of musical production and consumption.

    Calibre 50 - Corrido de Juanito

    The production of norteño and banda music is mostly carried out by male musicians originally from Sinaloa or who identify with Sinaloa, who recognize it as a form of economic capitalization. Their compositions are dominated by romantic ballads and narcocorridos.3 In 2018, the music industry in Sinaloa was the third in relevance after tourism and fishing, generated an estimated revenue of more than three and a half billion pesos, as well as 1,750 direct jobs and 4 thousand indirect jobs just for regional live performances, without considering the sale of records, services of streaming, marketing, advertising, record production and other activities (Guardado, 2018).

    A diversity of performers have stood out in the international arena in recent years. They have been recognized with Billboard Awards, Latin Grammy, Premios Juventud, De la Radio, Lo Nuestro, Bandamax. Among their productions are musical pieces titled: Mi princesa (Remmy Valenzuela, 2014), Forgive me (Gerardo Ortiz, 2015), Siempre te voy a querer (Calibre 50, 2016a), I have to hang up (Banda MS, 2016), Goodbye Love (Christian Nodal, 2017), It's raining outside (Julión Álvarez y Su Norteña Banda, 2020), Let's see at what time (Banda Carnaval, 2016). They deal with romantic love, couple affectivity, eroticism, festivities and migratory conditions. They are officially accepted and tolerated compositions, as they are considered free of violence.

    Research on narcocorridos has highlighted their function of telling true and subaltern stories, documenting exploits, entertaining, producing money and recounting issues of social interest through song (Valenzuela, 2010). Currently, academic approaches take into account the massification of cultural products of drug trafficking -movies, music, television series and documentaries-, which have formed a lifestyle evident in language, consumption, clothing and use of accessories (Becerra, 2015).

    Palenque Culiacán, Sinaloa November 14 to December 1, 2019

    Another line of knowledge is positioned from a feminist perspective. Herrera-Sobek (1993) analyzed the content of revolutionary corridos, where she proposes archetypal figures of women: good mother, terrible mother, mother goddess, lover and woman soldier. Later, alluding to narcocorridos, Mondaca (2004) and Valenzuela (2010) found that above the archetypal roles, the presence of women in the narratives is evident as secondary characters whose purpose is to extol the virtues of men; they are objectified, consumed and exhibited as trophies. At the same time, in positions of power they are described with masculine attributes, which makes them worthy of respect. In this line, moreover, the mistress has been studied by comparing her body to the value of money, an interchangeable and disposable object for men (Pavón-Cuéllar et al., 2014). In addition, Núñez (2017) comments that narcocorridos construct meanings around masculinity, sexuality and male gender ideology. The compositions expose dominant practices and values related to manhood, bravery and honor, are crossed by an androcentric vision and function as a sex-gender power device (Núñez and Espinoza, 2017).

    Javier Rosas In The Highlands And The City [La China].

    In general, studies of norteño and banda music have focused on narcocorridos, while analyses of romantic ballads in these genres from a gender perspective allow an approach to sociocultural traits in which gender relations stand out, symbolic violence and male domination structures, the construction of meaning of romantic love, the masculine and the feminine, love bonds, expectations of the couple, as well as meanings, rituals and practices derived from interpersonal relationships in inequality (Araiza and González, 2016; Bourdieu, 2000). An associated indication is the 2016 controversy from the video. You were mine by Gerardo Ortiz, who additionally stars in the music video (Milenio Digital, 2016).

    Gerardo Ortiz - You Were Mine

    The video clip was rejected by feminist collectives arguing that it promotes violence against women, feminicide, and is an apology for crime (efe, 2016).4 It was also controversial because of the nexus of the set The Mexican government issued arrest warrants for Gerardo Ortiz and the producer. In a press conference the performer appealed to the fiction of the video thanking for taking the platforms to defend women's rights (Cobo, 2016b). An atmosphere of hostility was generated among internet groups. The sector that requested the removal of the video collected signatures and presented their petition to YouTube, who opted to remove it (Jakes, 2016). Despite offering apologies, Ortiz was criticized for treating the subject lightly (Cobo, 2016a).

    As of You were minevarious organizations took a stand against violence against women in the content of norteño and banda music.5. They argued that the musical discourse is the basis for a sexist and patriarchal ideology that naturalizes gender violence (Noticieros Televisa, 2017). In response, the band La Trakalosa de Monterrey published the following message:

    We are against any kind of violence against women and girls. complaint any abuse against you or a friend or partner. If you find yourself in a violent situation and don't know what to do, locate your state's phone number and call! (Vernon, 2016).

    The removal of Ortiz's video ignited the debate regarding the conditions in which women live in Mexico, in addition to putting on the table the discussion about the persistent gender inequalities in Sinaloa. The controversy was placed at a time when aggressions against women and girls were increasing, which persists without effective intervention to reduce them (Cabrera, 2019). Recent figures indicate that women between 26 and 35 years of age are the most affected, the aggression often comes from a close male, a family member or partner, within the home. In these circumstances, many cases are not reported for fear of reprisals or to downplay their importance (inegi, 2017; Editorial Staff Animal Político, 2017). In recent years, gender-based criminal acts against women in Mexico have doubled, from 422 victims in 2015 to 861 in 2018 (Huffington Post, 2019). In 2018, Sinaloa had the highest national figure for intentional homicides of women per 100,000 inhabitants, with a rate of 5.33 in its capital, Culiacán (Redacción Sin Embargo, 2018). In 2019 it remained on the list of states with the highest incidence of violence against women, with Culiacán at the top with 32 cases of femicides, a city where more and more women express nonconformities and reject practices of psychological, sexual and physical violence in their homes, jobs and the streets (Caro, 2019).

    Images from the International Women's Day March in Culiacán, Sinaloa, March 9, 2020. Photographs taken and provided by Maryblue Ríos.
    Images from the International Women's Day March in Culiacán, Sinaloa, March 9, 2020. Photographs taken and provided by Maryblue Ríos.
    Images from the International Women's Day March in Culiacán, Sinaloa, March 9, 2020. Photographs taken and provided by Maryblue Ríos.
    Images from the International Women's Day March in Culiacán, Sinaloa, March 9, 2020. Photographs taken and provided by Maryblue Ríos.

    It is in this context that Sinaloan norteño and banda music is created, recreated and consumed. For Simonett (2000), the contents of Sinaloense music are accepted insofar as they embody imaginary worlds, while establishing a meeting place with a social memory of the romantic. Because of their affective content, ballads are usually dedicated to girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, and occasionally to the mother or friends. It is important to note that traditional gender stereotypes that place men and women in different positions are projected in the compositions; a patriarchal culture is evident, accompanied by macho practices; symbolic violence against women is ritualized and naturalized (Araiza and González, 2016; Berlanga, 2015). From the music industry, content intended for consumption, leisure and fun is promoted, without responsibilities or consequences. These productions reproduce "models of behavior, sexual roles, gender differences and male domination" (Martínez, 2014: 64).

    Following Sanchez (2016), Sinaloa is a misogynist, heterosexist context and highly interested in the surveillance of gender role compliance, especially in women; the sexual division of productive and reproductive labor with traditional social roles is predominant (Aldana-Castro et al., 2018). The characterization of Sinaloa women is based on their relationship with others -mainly with men- with attributes such as attractive, feminine, sweet, maternal, faithful, heterosexual, a sexuality dependent on their partner's desire, relegated to spaces such as family, home care and reproductive work. On the other hand, the expectation for men in the couple is the lack of responsibilities in the private sphere; the woman represents for them an object of consumption, satisfying their sex-affective and fun needs. Thus, Sinaloan men have been characterized as partying, cheerful, brave, partying, womanizing, but not committed, since their seduction and obligatory heterosexuality is not circumscribed only to one woman (Aldana-Castro et al., 2018; Sánchez, 2016). The above is openly expressed in Sinaloan popular music.

    In this article we analyze the social construction of romantic love and couple ideals in the lyrics of popular music in Sinaloa. The questions we seek to answer are: how is romantic love practiced and signified in Sinaloan youth through norteño and banda music, how is being a "woman" or being a "man" in Sinaloa experienced in romantic musical expressions, and how are ideals expressed in the choice of a partner in romantic songs? We approach love from a constructionist perspective, focusing on the meanings and meanings constructed through discourse and social relations. We assume a gender perspective, considering that women and men in couple relationships have played different roles according to the context, as well as their socio-historical trajectories. In this framework, love organizes interpersonal bonds towards a consensual interaction channel where a diversity of elements such as affection, trust, affection, compassion are involved, so that violence is hidden as it concerns the symbolic and is invisible to its victims (Bourdieu, 2000; Owens, 2016).

    Romantic love is distinguished from other forms of love, as it is associated with heterosexual women who manifest sexual desire and intimacy (Karandashev, 2017); likewise, it orients women's lives in such a way that it is not only a vehicle of communication but also enshrines their emotional subordination and material belonging to others under slogans of affective gratification (Lagarde, 2005). We will think of romantic love as a central aspect of gender relations, since gender, following Scott, is "a constitutive element of social relations based on the differences that distinguish the sexes and gender is a primary form of significant power relations" (Scott, 1996: 289). According to the author, it is constituted of symbolic cultural elements, of norms that limit our capacities, of political and subjective elements.

    Thus, it is precisely gender and the hierarchization of the roles assigned to men and women, fundamental in the constitution of the political fiction of romantic love, that serve to perpetuate inequalities. Similarly, for Mari Luz Esteban (2011) the notion of romantic love crosses not only gender, but also categories of class, ethnicity, kinship and sexuality. That is, it preserves the family institution as the central unit of the state by protecting marriages, it privileges couple love over other types of relationships, it is heterosexual by seeking reproduction as an end, in addition, it relegates women to the capitalist notion of private property being compulsorily monogamous (Mogrovejo, 2019), allowing the exploitation of women with the patriarchal education of submission, dependence, susceptibility, and placing them in situations prone to violence.

    Brief methodological note

    We placed ourselves in a qualitative paradigm with a gender perspective (Ríos, 2012). We carried out a thematic content analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006) of the lyrical6 of 29 songs produced between 2013-2019, selected based on the following criteria: ballads with explicit reference to love performed in norteño and/or banda music. We considered whether the ballads are musical hits based on their visibility, popularity and impact on everyday life. We recorded the frequency of programming of the songs on radio stations. We considered the number of plays on YouTube. We included ballads awarded by prizes such as Lo Nuestro, Bandamax, Billboard Latino, among others. The characteristics of the sample are shown in Table 1.

    Table 1. Description of the sample

    For the codification and elaboration of categories, we followed Strauss and Corbin (2002) and we relied on the software Atlas.ti 7. Initially, in the inductive coding process (Gibbs, 2007) we identified themes, characteristics, situations, interactions and roles in which the couple is ascribed. Subsequently, we regrouped the codes, developed categories and related them to the "romantic love" axis. Finally, to organize the categories we considered that romantic love has a temporal dimension, contracted in a cyclical way through phases (Barcelona, 1992; Blázquez et al.2010): the search for a partner, daily coexistence, eroticism, separation from the partner. Based on these categories, we will present the results.

    The search for a partner

    Romantic love is presented as a deep longing, satisfied in the union with a partner (Lagarde, 2001), to satiate the appetite to love and feel loved; the social imaginary indicates that men take the initiative to look for a match; they generate expectations and idealize characteristics that their partner will have and that will make her compatible with him. Meanwhile, the woman remains in a passive position, using flirting, tight clothes, mannerisms and a seductive attitude that communicates availability. In the search stage, mystical explanations are elaborated where the union with the partner obeys to a superior power or to destiny and from the first encounter the loss is avoided, because it is valued as a mistake. Waiting to meet the potential partner becomes a minor sacrifice because, it is believed, destiny will do its part to provoke this encounter, which will lead to a state of eternal well-being and pleasure. In "All or nothing" it is expressed:

    I wait for her and she waits for me, and it's already so much waiting that I hope she doesn't start to despair / I've saved a kiss for her, and whatever happens, it's going to reach her / after the long journey we've already gone through to coincide (Alfredo Olivas, 2019).

    With the finding, one moves from idealization to manifesting intimacy. Physical contact implies that the woman has accepted the man's closeness. A sense of belonging is produced, a "we" appears and the conquest begins, which refers to the process of courtship through gifts, flattery and "details" that make the man's company acceptable. In "My objective", the conquest is proposed with serenades, gifts, roses and affectionate displays:

    With my convoy I come to bring you a serenade, / in each carriage I bring plenty of roses / I brought the band that you dream of listening to / because tonight it will sing for both of us /...I bring my goal in my sights, / to kill you with kisses today is the intention, / to torture you with hugs and caresses / to kidnap you and there will be no liberation (Álex Saucedo, 2020).

    Images from February 14, 2020 in Culiacan, Sinaloa
    Images from February 14, 2020 in Culiacan, Sinaloa
    Images from February 14, 2020 in Culiacan, Sinaloa
    Images from February 14, 2020 in Culiacan, Sinaloa

    Appearance in the search process is fundamental. In the narratives, they are attracted to men with a strong, virile and working image; clothing and external body conditions become relevant. The desire for a good appearance, to walk "well aligned", is portrayed in "Simple Man":

    Yo no soy hombre de rancho pero me gusta el sombrero, / me divierto con las morras sin tener tanto dinero / Siempre ando bien alineado, botas y cinto piteado, / no tendré troca del año pero no ando caminando (Marco Flores y La Jerez, 2017).

    Screenshots of "Túmbate El Rollo (Official Video) El Komander Ft Larry Hernandez".
    Screenshots of "Túmbate El Rollo (Official Video) El Komander Ft Larry Hernandez".
    Screenshots of "Túmbate El Rollo (Official Video) El Komander Ft Larry Hernandez".

    The virtuosity of masculinity lies in being hardworking, without presumptions, loyal, friendly and aware of his potential to attract women. In the descriptions, the "donjuanismo" appears with an attitude of constant conquests. In "Free man" it is expressed:

    I'm sorry I can't be your Sunday / even if you love me a chingo, you shouldn't agendarme anymore / I'm sorry but I'm a free man / woman my fuel, maybe it's a curse (La Adictiva, 2016b).

    On the other hand, the female description is predominantly based on male musicians. In "La buena y la mala" (Tierra Sagrada band, 2013), a dilemma is narrated in the face of attraction for two women: the first, the one with whom tenderness and sensitivity are shown, whose corporal description is intertwined with affective expressions such as holding hands, kissing and provoking smiles; the second is the woman who inspires sexual desire due to the fact that they live together at parties, surrounded by alcohol and excesses.

    Tierra Sagrada Band -The Good and the Bad (the dilemma)

    In the compositions, the aesthetics of the "good woman" is oriented to care, beauty, softness and care in the image. Stereotypically, the attire consists of long hair, dark complexion, made-up face, decorated nails, tight-fitting clothes, sneakers, jewelry. In this regard, Da Silva suggests that in the heteropatriarchal system, for "the choice of partner it is learned that women are chosen for their beauty and goodness, while men for their strength, character and courage" (Da Silva, 2014: 32). For his part, Mondaca argues that gender relations -in narcocorridos- "reproduce unequal and aggressive patterns of behavior, with a sexism that aims at the subordination of women"(2004: 101). In Sinaloan music there is a tendency to objectify women, valued as objects of pleasure and consumption, or as caregivers.

    Daily coexistence

    After the conquest, the development of the couple's relationship is presented with the description of daily activities where there is joint participation in private spaces playing traditional roles. Likewise, public spaces are mentioned in which there is the presence of other people close to the couple. During the early development of the relationship, the lyric relates the pleasure of having each other's company:

    I'm loving that you say good morning to me, / that the first thing I see is your face, / that you wear my shirt in the morning / to take my breakfast to bed! (banda Los Recoditos, 2016).

    The bond is "true love" insofar as it is evaluated as satisfactory; that is, when expectations in the process of idealization, waiting and searching are met, it is linked to feelings of acceptance, fulfillment, gratitude and affirmation of commitment.

    They've asked me if you're my true love, and I, / I tell them you're the love of my life, / Thank you for loving me the way I love you, / I can't see myself without you, and I'm not exaggerating, / And yes, maybe not everything is perfect but... / But it can be solved with kisses! / I still make you mad, sometimes even cry, / But you know I love you and I want you to remember this, / I'll always love you, / I'll make sure to make you fall in love every day! (Calibre 50, 2016a).

    For the couple, the giving and receiving of affection (Blázquez et al., 2010) in an intimate space represents the opportunity to undertake the daily "conquest". In these cases, the term "falling in love" appears, referring to an intense feeling with the partner, loaded with mysticism, since metaphors are used to exalt the attractive characteristics of the other person (Barcelona, 1992). For the manifestation of romantic details, there is a differentiation based on gender; the details that men usually offer are chivalry, courtesy, respect. This is expressed in practices such as special attentions, making her laugh, paying her compliments, opening the door, offering her benefits such as carrying heavy objects, protecting her or accompanying her in her transfers, giving her gifts. "Council of friends" serves as an example:

    Say good morning to her, also good night, / Don't forget the details so you can make her fall in love / Pique her ribs every time she gets angry and you'll see that she responds / Be a gentleman and don't forget to take care of her, and when she gets cold, remember: you have to hug her / She doesn't love flowers, but once in a while I don't think they'll get in her way (Cristian Jacobo, 2016).

    Women receive details and are called "ladies" or "princesses". Women are expected not to attract the attention of other men, modesty and care of appearance are positively valued, as well as delicacy, simplicity and demonstrations of affection in order to gain admiration and respect from their partner. "With him" describes a lady:

    With him I live what I never imagined, / With him I feel what I never felt before, / He fills me with tenderness, / His caresses are my cure and without him I don't know how to live, / With him I no longer feel pain or fear and I owe my happiness to him alone (Jenni Rivera, 2013).


    The erotic content of the songs is characterized by a lack of reproductive connotation, the objective is body exploration, to show physical attraction, to perform the sexual act, to denigrate the possession of the partner's body and to mock sexual minorities.7 It highlights a process of erotic seduction from early stages in cohabitation and also in separation. Seduction expresses willingness to engage in sexual practices through condescending language, while some songs expose irreverence with puns:

    Today I'm going to tell you the truth about me, that I'm not who you think I am, / that in intimacy I'm an animal that doesn't know how to understand, / I'm not going to care if I stain the bed with my intensity, / if you don't feel like it I'm going to put the idea of what I want to do to you, / because my body is burning with so much passion that my imagination runs in my mind! / Now I'll tell you that the tender one is gone, / I'm thinking of undressing you and I'm going to pass it to you... / across your chest, your back and suddenly make you scream my name over and over again, / take your lips from my feet to my face, stop you in the middle / and give me a different way of loving! / Put your hand where you know well, / I'll be a beast that without respect, I'll take your waist and give you for... / behind your neck, bite you until you cry... That it hurts to your soul and you can't take it anymore, / while I record a video like this, with my cell phone / And this is for you, chiquitita. It's gonna hurt, but you're gonna like it (Calibre 50, 2011).

    Calibre 50 - El Tierno se fue

    Los Gfez - Backwards Kisses

    The gender role hierarchization of romantic love designates men as active and women as passive, which leads to practices that denote sexual violence. Following Rita Segato (2017), elements of a "rape culture" are exposed in that there is a lack of satisfaction and consideration for the sexual desire of both parties, in addition to mutual consent to carry out some erotic practices. Contradictorily, erotic life in norteña and banda music is represented with kisses, caresses, embraces, attentions, holding hands; forms of closeness, intimacy and a means by which couples express care and delicacy. In "Préstamela a mí", the following is described:

    If she's angry and you don't know what to do, / I'll tell you a secret to make her happy: kiss her feet, / talk to her ear when you're hugging, / and if she's in her day offer her an ice cream. / If in a given case she no longer wants to talk to you, / search her body for the hidden place where there's a mole, / kiss her carefully and delicately, tell her that in your life she's your princess. / And if what I'm telling you doesn't work, / then you kiss her repeatedly from the belly to the neck, / Tell her that you love her if you make love to her, / prove with facts that without a doubt she is the best (Calibre 50, 2016b).

    The compositions show the sexual satisfaction of women only with the official partner, assuming desire as static and eternal, as well as dependent on the will of men. Erotic acts such as flattery, kissing or cuddling with another person are negatively valued. The imaginary of "making love" is used as a metaphor for coitus, implying that only love with a heterosexual conditioning legitimizes female sexual activity. Therefore, the sense of belonging to the couple relationship, the "we" proper to cohabitation, is transferred to a material dominion of the woman's body, who swears loyalty with phrases such as "I am completely yours" and is responsible for attracting her partner's attention by "giving herself to be desired" through aesthetic care. According to Lagarde (2005), gallantry in their partners causes many women to cease their erotic relations because of the pain of infidelity, or because without further explanation their partners stopped touching them. Infidelity means an unofficial sexual and/or emotional replacement of the partner and is usually more common in men (Rivera et al., 2011). An example of this is "Disfruté engautarte":

    I enjoyed cheating on you and sleeping with her, / also of face and body she is more beautiful / I enjoyed her body without remorse, / every position, excellent moments / I enjoyed the mirror to see her gestures (La Adictiva, 2016a).

    There are compositions whose themes are jealousy, disappointment, sadness, regret or anger when the woman has erotic practices with another man. To forget the sadness caused by disappointment in love, men resort to looking for a lover. For Herrera-Sobek (1993), it is the figure of the "femme fatale", represented with exuberance, flirtation and seduction; it is "an easy way" for men who try to replace their partner while the "femme fatale" receives in exchange gifts or, simply, a night of fun. Intimate encounters take place under the consensus of a night of pleasure. Men justify infidelity by an inability to control their sexual impulses, equating it with an animal nature. Women, on the other hand, resort to infidelity to get their partner's attention, serve as revenge or punishment, again showing modesty and dependence, as well as lack of freedom.

    Separation of the couple

    In the compositions, separation usually triggers feelings such as frustration, anger, disappointment, hope and regret. In "Let's talk" a situation is proposed where the conflict lies in the fact that the woman doubts the affection, so he resorts to reaffirming his commitment, the lyric sometimes exposes an impossibility of creating agreements, appealing to dialogue:

    It is necessary, love, that we talk for just a second / so that there are no misinterpretations / It is necessary, love, that you give me your attention for a second, / and that you know that I am desperate /... There is something that is tarnishing our lives, / it is not necessary that you say it, I feel it here on my skin / Don't be afraid that I would never leave you (Ariel Camacho, 2014).

    During cohabitation, couples experience an emotional flattening, which is why the ballads reflect the comparison between the beginning of the relationship -associated with falling in love- and the current state. The estrangement causes intense suffering, described as thorns in the heart:

    I wouldn't want you to think that I'm taking advantage of our history, / to write a song, and make victory out of sadness, / Because if I sing it's simply to unburden the wound, / I don't want you to imagine that it was easy to say goodbye, / the memories pile up and leave me with scars, / They feel like thorns in my heart (Julión Álvarez y su Norteño Banda, 2020).

    Some compositions narrate that a member can maintain the hope of letting time pass, making amends and reengaging in the relationship after forgiving the partner. Guilt and regret affect to such a degree that they take away the will to live. On the contrary, when the separation is carried out in an assertive manner, there is no resentment or regret but the desire to continue with life in peace. Another alternative in the process of overcoming is the spite, which is usually avoided with the excessive consumption of alcohol, women and parties. The origin of spite is the pain of rejection:

    I bought you designer clothes and handbag, / some glasses encrusted with rhinestones, / I gave you breasts, buttocks / and a waist where you had rims, / I bought you more shoes than for a centipede / and long, black, curly eyelashes, / a pretty, upturned nose / and they applied mother-of-pearl shell to whiten you, / and now it turns out that you feel you're the most beautiful monument, / you were a bad investment and I regret it! / And now it turns out that you feel like the most beautiful monument, / You were a bad investment and I regret it! / Because your words of love swept the wind, / Now it turns out that I'm not at the level you thought, / You tell me that and so much other bullshit! / Now it turns out, doll, now it turns out... / Damn bitch, before me you were nothing! (Grupo Voz de Mando, 2013).

    Christian Nodal - Adiós Amor

    In the compositions, women are strongly reprimanded when they distance themselves from their partners and decide to live on their own. Berlanga (2015) indicates that the transformation of recent gender roles in traditional societies such as Mexico, has sometimes been detrimental, as it has made them deserving of punishments inflicted by their own partner (Navarro, 2017), in order to show their ability to dominate and delimit their territory: the woman's body.

    Conclusions and discussion

    Romantic love is constructed through interactions, practices and meanings situated in concrete historical-socio-cultural contexts. In Sinaloa, music generates and disseminates collective imaginaries about love. Some sensitive themes narrated in the ballads are: the obligatory nature of heterosexuality and monogamy; gender and couple violence; gender inequalities. Romantic ideals, beliefs and myths promote couple models where women and men play roles during selection, attraction, affective demonstration, conflict resolution and commitment (Da Silva, 2014).

    The characteristics of the women in the ballads are sweetness, spontaneous emotionality, softness, beauty and sensuality. The most common physical attributes -associated with narcoculture- refer to excessive voluptuousness achieved through cosmetic surgeries, tight clothing, makeup, long dark hair and items that provide sophistication -bags, earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces, glasses, false nails-. "Being a woman" is oriented towards passivity, acceptance of gender mandates, attention to body image, caring for others through emotional work, modesty and carrying out domestic work. On the other hand, "being a man" means being an active agent in social life, portrayed as strong, firm, hardworking, heterosexual, protective, enjoying life and women. It is uncommon to find men with no interest in women, committed to their partner or family and focused on the well-being of others beyond the economic aspect or superficial affection. Sexually, it is fundamental for them to enjoy their position of power and virility.

    Gender violence is exercised in a subtle way and is covered with discourses of love, therefore, the position of women is relegated to accompanying, being men the active role in society by having access to a greater amount of benefits, which results in an accessible capital for women only through their partner. When the songs describe independent female characters, the story is usually positioned from a masculine interpretation and she is shown under dichotomous appellatives: "beautiful-fierce, pretty-corrupt, boss-bitch" (Mondaca, 2004: 101), expressing strangeness before a woman in a position of power.

    In this sense, gender relations built with romantic love originate in unequal interactions, where men and women receive gender mandates that produce discomfort. However, they are maintained, because otherwise there is a strong rejection in the social sphere that entails fatal consequences for women. As Lagarde (2001) points out, it is urgent to generate new models of relationships where negotiations are carried out on an equal footing and where both parties see their individual desires, freedom and will satisfied beyond the couple.

    Finally, in this article we are interested in gender relations, expectations and ideals of the couple, as well as the meanings of being a man and being a woman in the lyrics of romantic ballads in Sinaloan popular music. However, we do not analyze the performance The study also found that the music was not only a musical experience, but also the reception and resignification of the contents in their listeners. These elements could be included in future research in order to broaden knowledge about the uses and customs of couples associated with the consumption of music in their daily lives.


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    Music videos cited

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    Banda MS (2016, 20 de septiembre). Banda MS – tengo que colgar (video oficial) (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    Banda Tierra Sagrada (2013, 13 de agosto). Banda Tierra Sagrada-La buena y la mala (el dilema) VIDEO OFICIAL (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

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    Calibre 50 (2016b, 12 de febrero). Calibre 50-Préstamela a mí (Official Video) (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    Christian Nodal (2017, 13 de enero). Adiós amor (Video Oficial) (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    Cristian Jacobo (2016, 5 de julio). Cristian Jacobo-Consejo de amigos (Video Oficial) (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    Gerardo Ortiz (2015, 17 de marzo). Gerardo Ortiz-Perdóname (Official Video) (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    Grupo Voz De Mando (2013, 25 de marzo). Voz De Mando-Y ahora resulta (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    Jenni Rivera (2013, 19 de noviembre). Jenni Rivera-Con él (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda (2020, 14 de noviembre). “Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda-Afuera está lloviendo” (video). FuseVEVO. Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    La Adictiva (2016a, 12 de septiembre). La Adictiva Banda San José de Mesillas-Disfruté engañarte (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    La Adictiva (2016b, 13 de septiembre). La Adictiva Banda San José de Mesillas-Hombre libre (Video Oficial) (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    Marco Flores y La Jerez (2017, 7 enero). Marco Flores y La Jerez-Hombre sencillo (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    Remmy Valenzuela (2014, 14 de noviembre). Mi princesa (video). Recuperado de, consultado el 13 de diciembre de 2020.

    Mariangel Estefania Urrecha Arce has a degree in Psychology from the Autonomous University of Sinaloa (uas). Elaborated the thesis Social construction of romantic love and couple ideals from Sinaloan popular music. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in Cultural Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (colef).

    Ana Isabel Sánchez Osuna holds a Master of Science degree in Cultural Studies from the Colegio de la Frontera Norte (colef). Elaborated the thesis: Ser lesbiana en Culiacán, lesbofobia y construcción de identidades. She has a degree in Psychology from UAS. She is currently a PhD student in Sociocultural Studies at the Autonomous University of Baja California.

    César Jesús Burgos Dávila is a full time professor-researcher at the Faculty of Psychology, UAS. D. in Social Psychology from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.

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