In modern day Brazil, the power and economic structure is dominated primarily by men of a European phenotype or something close to it. On television, in magazines, in its halls of power and on its modeling runways, Brazil continues to present itself as a reflection of its European ancestors while almost completely ignoring its African and indigenous heritage although anyone who has visited the country is surely to come away with a different idea of what Latin America’s largest country’s citizens look like. During most of the year, save for the soccer field and the musical stage, Afro-Brazilians are largely hidden from the spotlight, at least considering its their status as numerical majority in the Brazilian population. But then comes Carnaval season when descendants of the 4-5 million African slaves that arrived in Brazil over the course of three centuries are allowed to briefly shine for a period of about a week as the ultimate symbol of Brazilian “alegria (joy)”. For that entire joyous week in February, images of these brown bodies are broadcast to a worldwide audience often promoting the country as tropical, exuberant country of endless parties, fast times and easy sex. But alas, when its all over, blacks, it’s time to go back to where you came from!
The legendary Samba musician Candeia perhaps said it best in the lyrics to his song “Dia De Graça”:
Vamos esquecer os desenganos (que passamos)
Let’s forget the disappointments (that we went through)
Viver alegria que sonhamos (durante o ano)
Experience the joy that we dreamed of (for the whole year)
Damos o nosso coração, alegria e amor a todos sem distinção de cor
We give our heart, joy and love to all without distinction of color
Mas depois da ilusão, coitado
But after the illusion, poor thing
Negro volta ao humilde barracão
Black people go back to your humble shack
The image of poor, hard-working but sexy black body is one of the tools that elites use to attract millions of tourists to the country every year. The virile “negão (big, black man)” and the hypersexual “mulata”. According to the stereotypes, the mental capacity of these people leaves much to be desired, but the bodies are the sources of unbridled sensuality and boundless sexual pleasure. The funny thing about Brazil is that while it promotes the figure of the mulata as a sex symbol and the ultimate sexual experience, this same woman is mostly invisible on the cover of the magazine most often considered to be the bible of female beauty, sensuality and sexuality: Playboy (Brasil) magazine. To be sure, no one likes to be stereotyped, but being considered a source of considerable sexual expertise, adventure and fantasy are compliments that one should proudly wear as if it were an “S” on the chest, right? Let me just confirm that I’ve had this discussion about the image of the viril, well-endowed black man with both Brazilian black men as well as American black men and I have yet to meet anyone who has a problem with this stereotype. This discussion of black men is common on online forums, social networking sites and websites. Here are just a few comments of the hundred or so that I saw at the website Bolsa de Mulher.
The title of the discussion was: “homens negros…fazem seu tipo…? (black men…are they your type?)”
“Wow !!! (This is) too much. The majority of my girlfriends like black men, they say that they were good in bed, well-hung. I always preferred white guys and they (girlfriends) would tell me: “The day that you try one, you will not want white guys.” Now I am with a black man and I say IT’S ALL GOOD!!! He’s strong passion, good in bed and I really don’t want white men. I recommend, whoever never tried (a black man) you don’t know what you’re missing.”
“Hahahaha….they say that his “id (member)” is enormous…but they’re not my style…”
So in the three comments, we have a woman, presumably white, who supports the sexual stereotype of black men based on her own experience. Next we have a woman who can only speak of what’s she’s heard since black men aren’t her style. Next, we have a black woman who is married to black man and whose attraction to black men is based in other attributes that she finds pleasing. So do sexual stereotypes do a disservice to black men or black people in general or should people accept these ideals as compliments? Here’s what writer and blogger José Nunez had to say on the topic. And stay tuned for more as we delve further into the subject of sexuality through a Brazilian lens throughout the rest of the week.
Stereotypes of the Brazilian mulatto and negro: The sexual connotation of the black Brazilian
by José Nunez
The centuries-old stereotypes to which blacks are connected and enrooted should not be a source of pride for anyone, these are the characterizations to which the negro has been stigmatized throughout history that have the power to keep him in the same condition of any black slave. There are many stigmas, but the most troublesome are those related to sexuality and sex, this sexual look on the black man and black woman is a prison of our colonial history and slavery in Brazil, from a time when black women were sexual objects of plantation masters and their children, and black men were desired by white women because of their physical vigor and their lack of civility and morality, in the white and Christian manner, which allowed them sexual practices and performances that for the white, Christian man was taboo.
Sexual intercourse with a slave, was certainly much more pleasurable for the slave owner than the intercourse with his wife, this is easy to explain knowing the human sexual depravity, the power relations involved in it and the distance between sex, morals and feelings. The mulata woman that gyrates her hips and the black man with the abnormal sexual black member should not provoke pride in anyone, these characterizations and the words of a sexual nature is a machine to degrade black men and women and reduce them to sex objects in the social imagination, leaving them where they were placed in slavery between the excluded and the inferior. Unfortunately, Brazilian Carnival is the most powerful machine that exists to reduce mulata women to their gyrating hips and the sexual connotation of her color.
The appreciation of physical beauty in blacks is a reflection of the prejudices suffered by them and it is also a reflection of the sexual connotation of which blacks are victims since slavery, this behavior and this self-affirmation is the result of an inferior look upon themselves as if this was the only way for blacks to be valued by society, even if this sexual appreciation keeps them excluded and without civility. As if that weren’t enough, now there is an appreciation of elements that are a result of our exclusion, as is the case of the slums and of the customs resulting from our lack of knowledge and social chaos.
The preservation of culture can also be the preservation of our exclusion and misery, conservation cynically permitted by the power that represses.
1. 19th century Afro-Brazilian poet
2. 19th/20th century Afro-Brazilian novelist, poet, playwright and short story writer, widely regarded as the greatest writer of Brazilian literature.
3. 19th/20th century Afro-Brazilian novelist and journalist
The “negão” and the fetishization of interracial sex in Brazil
Why do black Brazilian men prefer blondes? Part 3 – “They are more beautiful, more seductive, more cultured”, says one
Why is the black woman seen as a sex object?
The Brazilian mulata: black woman or something entirely different?
Devassa Beer ordered to change its racist ad depicting black women’s sexuality
Sexuality, racial imagery and the fetishization of the black male body in Brazil, Part 1