Parabéns

Para a mulher brasileira- A experiência do gênero na cidade de São Paulo em visão estrangeira

Machismo in Numbers

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Machismo in Numbers

According to a study made by Avon Brazil and Data Popular (a statistics firm), 41% of Brazilians know a man that has been violent towards their spouse. This is another measure of how machismo influences the actions of so many men- and how behind those numbers and actions are hidden bruises and bleeds of millions of women. How can this be solved?

Mulheres no Clip da Copa

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Mulheres no Clip da Copa

Lots of Brazilian women and men were unsatisfied with the Official World Cup song “We Are One (Ole Ola),” by Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez, and Cláudia Leitte. Not only because they feel musically underrepresented- with Leitte, the only Brazilian artist included  singing for a few seconds, but because of the depiction of their country in the recently-launched video. I noticed particularly how the majority of women were dressed as samba-dancers as others wore mini shorts and tops, displaying all their voluptuousness. What do you think? Is Brazil well represented in the video? What’s the image of Brazilian women that it promotes?

Brazilian Women Objectification in Media

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Brazilian Women Objectification in Media

While I was doing research for my final Portuguese presentation I typed “Mulher Brasileira” (Brazilian woman) in google- and only pictures of almost naked women, exhibiting their voluptuous bodies appeared. Such a disappointing and unfair view. Just to see if it was only something about typing he word “mulher”, which generally leads to objectification, I typed “mulher americana” (American woman) and although there were still some naked bodies in the results, it wasn’t as bad at all- and same happened when I typed “mulher colombiana” (Colombian woman.) How can this image be changed? Why not show other more representative things of the female Brazilian culture? How long would this perception take to change?

Bonita? Eu!

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Bonita? Eu!

Given that my (awesome) days in Brazil are coming to an end, I have decided to start wrapping things up by presenting my concluding thoughts on my perceptions about gender. So, As the main image of the blog states, I think every single Brazilian woman is pretty- Why? because they have resisted so many years of machismo, domestic violence, and worldwide stereotyping and objectification…And now they’re moving forward. If you are a Brazilian woman concerned about gender issues in your country, please check out this blog: http://thinkolga.com/. It was started by Juliana de Faria, a Journalist from PUC-SP, and it promotes discussion on several  interesting topics with campaigns such as “Chega de Fiu Fiu” and “100 vezes Claudia,” which I will talk more about later. If you believe in empowering of women, regardless of your nationality, you should check it out as well! It’s a “think tank” for EVERYONE to have an input in the discussion- and staying together, which, I’ve concluded, is the key for thriving in what we want to accomplish! With the theme: Ser Mulher No Brasil (Being a Woman in Brazil), I will be posting interesting images on a daily basis to foster thoughts and raise awareness.


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Note To Ugly Self- Sobre Quando Era Feia

Recently, one of my study abroad friends told me that I had been brain washed. I responded, “how so?” And she said: “You always say your eyes are ugly when they’re one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen.” Just to clarify, this friend was not a guy trying to flirt with me: It was one of my closest girl-friends in the exchange program. She was referring to how I keep saying that I don’t like my eyes as much and how I’d prefer them to be smaller. To my surprise, many people who I’ve met here in Brazil have complimented my eyes and their size. They have complimented the size of those eyes that were once called “ojos de sapo” (frog eyes) out of mockery back when I wore braces and was a smart, skinny 6th grader.

If only I could go back to those days and tell that little innocent girl, 12-year-old Valeria, that everything was okay. That she wasn’t ugly, that her hair was just fine, that her “nerdiness” would give her success, that her pimples would go away, that her nose was not too big, and that none of the nonsense that she heard from (even more insecure) pre-adolescents was just a piece of crap. If only I could back and tell her…

Now that I’m 21, having moved to the US by myself and having lived for 3 months and a half in Brazil, I have realized an infinity of things. One of my classes about prejudice in Freshmen year taught me that the reason why women haven’t been able to climb the power structure in society is because of themselves. The beauty standards promoted by the media foster competition between all of us while we attempt to achieve the unattainable esthetics that they pretend to sell us. In other words, we compete constantly…and we want to be everything: we want to be the one with the best job, the one with the most money, the one with the best brand of shoes, the one with the biggest breasts, with the perfect nose, and with the prettiest clothes. But what does all of that lead us to? Distraction from our professional goals in life, distraction from helping others, distraction from ENJOYING LIFE GENUINELY, distraction from BEING OURSELVES.

Being a student in Brazil and walking around the streets of São Paulo, I see girls hanging out in their uniforms going to and from school and I couldn’t avoid thinking everything I went through when I was their age. To summarize it a little, right after I was excluded from the group of the plastics (yes, the Colombian plastics) I decided to live my life to the fullest, as cliché and corny as that might sound. Back in middle school I took the best decision I could have ever made: I started to hang out with the ones who were considered “the losers.” Since then, I started to laugh more loudly, to dress without having to worry about what others might say, to go to events and concerts only because I really wanted to and not because it was the “trend” (which got Techno music festivals, Reggaeton concerts, etc…out of my list.) And by acknowledging, embracing, and accepting who I am, I started to love myself a little more each day.

And even though that was a long time ago, I am surprised and shocked about how those extreme feelings of superiority and envy are still present in some people who I used to (had to?) interact with for so long. All of this, through the power of Social Media. Because let’s admit it, girls: who’s the person you feel more jealous about? Who’s the person that you feel you compete (even secretly) the most with? Now, lastly, whose is the profile on Facebook that you visit most frequently? Were the faces that appeared in your mind all women? Probably yes. We use Social Media to compare ourselves with other members of our same gender and we use it to compare and nurture our envy and jealousy. We use those images subconsciously as models to what we aspire to be, without acknowledging that those images were probably taken with a lot of make up covering imperfections, a perfect pose that didn’t show that little piece of fat right there, and an effect that covers that little shadow that appears in their eye when they smile. I feel we should STOP this. STOP the judging eye and let’s focus on our progress as women and on how we can help each other.

Let’s talk to our adolescent and pre-adolescent little sisters, cousins, and friends since we can never talk to our insecure self that inhabited the cruel world of Middle School just 11 (or more) years ago. Let’s tell them that since beauty is a SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED CONCEPT it can acquire any form we want to. Beauty is not about wealth, or lightness of skin, or the size of your eyes and nose: it’s about talents, self-confidence, happiness, and love. Let’s just tell them the truth!

Blog Post 5.2

Needless to say- This is an awkward (but happy) picture of when I was a Freshmen in High-School.

 


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As Caras Duma Favela

I had the amazing opportunity to visit a São Paulo favela through an organization called Aoka which provides businessmen, tourists, and students with the opportunity to meet people living in impoverished neighborhoods. The focus of the visit to Brasilândia, the favela, located in the northwest of SP, was to expose us to different organizations and social enterprise community initiatives related to sustainability.

Introducing the most inspirational leaders I’ve met so far in Brazil:

These are Brasilianas; a group of women artisans who recycle disposed objects to create bags and other types of art and accessories. This group of women is supported by several Brazilian companies to promote economic development accompanied by environmental preservation. They really do have magic hands in turning bags of chips and candy wrapers into beautiful (and completely usable) handbags for different occasions.

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This is Celia, she is part of the group Café Solidario Doces Talentos. She, along other women, offer coffee break service for events. Supported by Projeto Mulheres and Fundacao Stickel, what makes this initiative unique is the use of  natural, organic and healthy ingredients. It also provides an opportunity for economic development to these women who are leaders of their households. Celia is incredibly passionate about what she does and she expresses it in the way she smiles while presenting her creations and passing them around for people to try them.

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And… I know that I specified that the purpose of this blog was to feature inspiring Brazilian women that I encountered, but after going to that favela and meeting so many influential leaders, it would be unfair to leave one of them aside only for genders’ sake, so:

This is Quintino Viana, founder of one of the most important organizations in the favela whose purpose is to preserve and clean green areas in the community: Ousadia Popular. He has gotten lots of Brasilândia inhabitants involved in his projects that include cleaning ecological parks, planting sustainable gardens, learning how to effectively use water in the neighborhood as well as other resources. “Seu Quintino,” as people popularly call him, is a perfect example of patience, and perseverance: It was amazing and moving to see how proud he was of what he’s built in the past 14 years. He showed us the main location of his organization and the amazing view of the city he’s surrounded by.

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Risos Gerais

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I remember my host sister telling me that “homen brasileiro começa namorar só depois do carnaval” meaning that Brazilian guys only commit to a relationship after the yearly outpouring of samba, blocos, cerveja, espuma, sexo, glitter, green and blue face-paint, and loucura. Both men and women (but men more openly) use this time of the year to “ficar” (hook up/make out) with random people that they meet while dancing and drinking together on the street during a bloco, sambando during a parade, or getting a tan on the beach. As told by one of my friends: “guys literally kiss you before asking for your name.” Another one of my girl-friends said that men would approach her to kiss her without saying hi and they would even “have the guts to ask why when I turned my face away.” From my own experience, since I am in a relationship, I didn’t have the issue of testosterone impulse surrounding me but I did witness how some of my friends were approached and touched by random drunk guys on the streets. So, apart from all this male craziness, there was something really positive about gender relations that really caught my attention.

Honestly, I didn’t expect much from the carnival parades since I thought I had seen it all in Colombia’s Carnaval de Barranquilla and Fiestas de Independencia de Cartagena. But I was wrong, very wrong. These carnival parades happen in huge places called Sambodromos which are exclusively used for Escolas de Samba to display all their art: huge floats, fantasia (customes), and dancing through the rua or a space that simulates the streets surrounded by places to sit for the audiences. So this is exactly how it goes: there are several Escolas de Samba in every city in Brazil. The members of each group (which are usually around 600 people) prepare for more than a year to walk and dance the Sambodromo with other escolas and compete for the best one. And it’s not only a matter of who dances the best, it’s a matter of whose costumes and whose floats were better decorated, and whose song and theme were more creative. They all have a theme “samba enredo” or song that tells a story. It’s basically a sang-poem, and this year, in Carnaval de Sāo Paulo, I had the chance to witness some related to racism; floats with the faces of legendary black leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Malcolm x, etc. and others related to the 80s with Michael Jackson in the parade, and the band “Kiss” in one of the floats. It is basically a spectacular show of art that everyone should see once in their lives.

Apart from the magnitude of effort that is put into samba school’s yearly display, what really caught my eye was how women, during carnival, were not afraid to show their bodies and move them along with the music as they celebrate during this time of the year. During the parade, I saw women of all sizes and ages wearing small samba costumes, dancing happily along without fears of judgment, and with joy in their faces, a joy of feeling liberated. What I came to analyze is that during this time of the year, there’s basically non-existent judgment or socially constructed concept of beauty. Everyone celebrates freely and happily with the body that God gave them. Also, being a woman during carnival becomes an ideal: some guys wear female clothing in a playful manner, forgetting about their possible insecurities and about possible shame for seeming like a woman or being considered homosexual. Celebrations on the streets from all and to all, carnival was a shiny celebration of art, equality, craziness, and joy.

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