Wednesday, 28 May 2014

GQ India tells Indian men to harass Brazilian women

I'm a woman, a Brazilian, and I've lived in India for a few years. The one thing I learned from my "Indian experience" has to do with stereotypes. I was able to move beyond them, and will carry this valuable lesson for the rest of my existence. This article, however, is not on my life in India. Today I'm trying to write about the negative effects of stereotyping. 

I came across this article yesterday and I can't say I gasped in horror because in patriarchy nothing surprises me anymore, to be honest. Shocked I am not, but I did get sad. First thing that caught my eyes, the piece was co-authored by a Brazilian lady. I seriously believe she is unaware of how sexism works. Like most people, after all. 

The text lets the reader know, from its outset, that stereotyping is good: "The thing with Brazil is that most of the stereotypes are true." My response to that? Well, clichés are never true. I can't believe I'm writing an article to counter cliché, but that's just how bad things are in the world of today, especially for women. That article is horrid. It goes on: "There’s football and bottoms and all that Carnaval frenzy. There’s the beach and bikinis and bottoms, coffee and caipirinhas and samba and bottoms." Like, really? In a country that struggles with human trafficking, child prostitution and all the disgrace of sex tourism? Is that how Brazil is still being portrayed? With the validation of, alas, Brazilians themselves? I seriously consider running to the hills every time I'm faced with such gross oversimplifications. 

No, I am not saying we are not 'cool' or 'happy' people who appreciate beautiful butts. Problem is, when you think of a whole nation in terms of its 'bottoms', you are objectifying women. I've no issues with being perceived as cool, happy, sexy, or even naive. It seems to me that, as a Brazilian woman, I will be ALWAYS put in the box of sensuality. Even though I'm (ironically) perceived as 'unsexy' by most Brazilians I know. The thing is, at some point in my life I realized I could be an actual human being, not a piece of decoration. Thus, it's not that I mind the label, or something, I just became unimpressed by it. 

It's not hard to get indifferent to a tag that dehumanizes you. It's not difficult to stop identifying yourself with something that is causing so much suffering and distress all over the world. Brazilian women are extremely available because they are socialized into being acutely romantic. I know that because I'm no exception to the rule. It's just that I was lucky enough to find female friends who took my hand and gave me some direction in life. Sorority matters, and I stand by it.

I know it sounds confusing. Like, below the surface of stereotype, Brazilian women are just plain romantic, that's all this is. If you've read my previous article you'll connect the dots, though. The Brazilian woman is not empowering herself through sex. She is rather using it as a tool to keep her man. It's not that she always succeeds, though. When she doesn't, she finds herself immersed in a pool of slut-shaming. She HAS to be sexy, yet she cannot own her sexuality, and this is just sad. This is just a system capitalizing over the bodies of women who are not exactly liberated. 

So what issue do I take at that article, exactly? Well, it ends with the following 'pearl' of wisdom: "Brazilians date much like they play football: aggressively. Move fast and keep trying until you score". It basically tells Indian men that they shouldn't hesitate in harassing Brazilian women. It teaches them that Brazil is a jungle and they shouldn't worry about feelings. After all, when you regard women to a 'savage' status, you owe them no humane treatment whatsoever. The magazine is telling men, line for line, that in the soccer match of life, Brazilian women are actually the ball. 

The thing is: we won't take it anymore. There is resistance, and I am living proof that we can, and WILL, transcend those stereotypes. As I said, a revolution is taking place in Brazil. We've had enough. And if I could offer one piece of advice to any man who is traveling to my country, I would say: if you're going to Brazil in order to get what you wouldn't otherwise in your home country, then don't. You know, many people travel to India in search of spiritual enlightenment and end up severely frustrated. The Brazilian experience may be just the other side of a same coin. Don't be the jerk who is contributing to the maintenance of a pervasive system of oppression.

1 comment:

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