MEXICO CITY— A viral video of a young woman making out with a young man during a drunken bachelorette party is stirring a public debate on fidelity, social media shaming, and society’s double standards on female sexuality. It's also sparking a heated discussion on what counts as news in Mexico, and how Mexican society treats issues of personal privacy in the digital age.
All that from one kiss.
The video, which shows the soon-to-be bride kissing a young man at a club while his male friends and bystanders shout no se casa (doesn’t get married), first started making the rounds on Mexican social media last month. In the following weeks, the woman—dubbed Lady Coralina, after the “Coralina Daylight Club” where the kiss went down— became an internet celebrity who got national coverage in Mexican gossip magazines and news outlets. “Lady Coralina kisses another guy and wedding gets canceled,” reads a late September headline by Mexican daily El Universal.
The club also got in on the media frenzy by publishing a photograph of the woman and her friends in its Facebook page in an attempt to turn the viral video into a promotional opportunity.
Lady Carolina even got her own Mexican corrido ballad.
But it's not all gossip and giggles. The Lady Coralina incident has also caused Mexico to look in the mirror and ask itself: Why are we still talking about this? And the answers to that question have led to some thoughtful critiques on Mexican society in the digital age.
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Mexican author and columnist Daniel Krauze wrote in Letras Libres magazine that the Lady Coralina phenomenon exposes the “feverishly sexism of the masses that condemn what a woman does, but would probably celebrate it if it were coming from a man.”
“I think the behavior of so many social media users and print and digital outlets that felt free to denounce and qualify what a woman did freely at a party, must open a debate on what we consider entertainment and what ideally should be kept private… We forget the abysmal difference between Kim Kardashian and Lady Coralina: one is famous for her own volition and the other because a third party decided to violate her privacy and upload, without consent, a video of her.”
The video also seems to be making some young Mexicans uneasy for a different reason.
The men I've talked to, some of them friends and some strangers, say the video has made them question whether their girlfriends would be capable of kissing another guy during a drunken night out, and if it’s machista, or perhaps naive, to assume that would never happen—like the scene in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, where Tom Cruise tells Nicole Kidman women don’t really think and behave like guys. Kidman laughs.
Meanwhile, the Mexican women I’ve talked to about the Lady Coralina incident seem divided. Some have blasted the young woman in the video as a “slut,” while others defend her right to do what she wants and decry the criticism hurled at her as an example of a deeply troubling double standard in Mexico.
“I think a society that applauds men and calls them pimps for making out with any woman that crosses their path and then goes and crucifies a young woman who screwed up and had the bad luck of being exposed is abhorrent and hypocritical,” a friend wrote on a Facebook thread discussion on the “moralist” view some Mexicans have taken on the Lady Coralina controversy.
Some say the video is not really about gender double standards, but simply reflects the type of social media shaming that's filling the internet.
The video has also become a cause célèbre among feminists and activists offering all types of unsolicited life and marital advice to the unknown couple.
“Be coherent with your being, your feelings and your sensations and realize that surely this matrimony wasn't for you, you still need to grow up, live, experiment and enjoy your free and autonomous choices, whether they are right or wrong,” reads a widely shared Facebook post by a Guatemalan activist.
The young woman in the video hasn’t talked to the media about the incident, or responded to the subsequent rumors that the wedding has been canceled.
What it does show, however, is how much a viral kiss can reveal about our insecurities, double standards and social constraints.