La Malandrina

How Jenni Rivera changed Mexican culture forever

In a sense, resentment against Rivera represents progress for Mexican women. No longer are they beholden to creation myths—but now they're attacked for breaking out of them and evolving into humans.

Rivera continues to expand her female-empowerment empire. She will soon reopen her real-estate business in Corona and Long Beach, specifically geared toward helping immigrants purchase their first homes. A beauty-product line is launching in early 2004, as is a beauty-salon franchise managed by her 18-year-old daughter, the child born during Jenni's high school days. A new album is also in the works—a hip-hop effort that Jenni's label, Fonovisa, "is kind of scared about," she admits. "But to me, I'm not changing; I'm adding. It's a business move. There's a market out there for a Latina hip-hop singer."

And therein lies Rivera's importance. She could easily have allowed the corrido movement popularized by her family to continue the discriminatory hubris of Mexican music. But growing up in the United States encouraged her to eradicate 400 years of entrenched female archetypes with brass-happy tunes. That it's a woman mothering such a fusion is apt—Rivera is the newest mother of Mexico, not defined by sexuality, but her way of liberation.

"They're going to think of a woman who's real," Rivera says when asked how she will be remembered. "They'll think about a woman who went through hell and back and never gave up. No one else has ever opened doors for me—I opened them myself. And people have a problem with women who do that. They have a problem when we're no longer as passive and submissive as, say, their mothers were growing up. Too bad. I say what I say, and I do what I do. I'm me."

Jenni Rivera performs with Joan Sebastian at the Arrowhead Pond, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 704-2500, Sat. $35-$125. All Ages.

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