The Sexual Politics of Meat – Brazil

Meat consumption in Brazil is a cultural feature; traditionally a celebration among friends done with barbecue, even more traditional is to watch soccer matches while doing  this practice. Also, the festivities involving the popular Brazilian cuisine  has the typical dish feijoada, in fact, most dishes served in Brazil has meat as ingredient. In commercial establishments is not rare to find even ham in salad! The consumption of alcoholic beverages, especially beer is also very encouraged with the massive publicity in the mainstream media. Brasil is also known for his music, samba, funk and Carnival.

What all these points have in common? They represent the masculinity of brazilian man and as expected, their advertising is deliberately sexist .An advertisement produced in 2012 for a beer brand can be described like this: A white man, playing a vegetarian, roast vegetables in a grill for a barbecue, another man (also white), playing an omnivore, approaches and asks “where’s the beef?”, the man by the roast indicates to a portion of soy meat, the other, clearly disappointed, retires himself from the scene . The take changes where we  can see a couple of scientists  who watch the scene and, by introducing beer in the situation, change the positioning of characters: This time, the omnivore roast meat on the grill and vegetarian one approaches with a beer in hand and says: “Where are the fruits that you have promised?” so the omnivore indicate to three “women-fruit” and ends by asking: “Do you like fruit?”. What, in Portuguese, is an obvious joke about the sexual orientation of the guy.
In Brazil, usually women funk singers have their nicknames associated to specific parts of their bodies, some of these nicknames refers to “fruits” as a dispositive to resemble parts of the woman anatomy. Those women are known in Brazil as “fruit-women”.

There is a woman whose  nickname is related to a piece of meat that posed for Playboy in 2008 and some copies were packed in trays and sold inbutchers, newsstands announced her as an ingredient in a menu and banners were printed with her body  marked with graphics indicating  a comparison to  the pieces of a beef of slaughter. Besides, “slaughter” is a slang used to refer women who some man wants to have casual relationships.

The funk lyrics  made in Brazil talks about life, violence and sexuality in a layer of marginalized populations: Black, poor and also women who are in these class and race groups. The most common complain about funk is it`s explicit language and potential to reduce women to mere sex objects, although the advertising mentioned above represent women-fruit without any participation more relevant than dancers, all the singers of this musical genre have at least a song very similar in content to “Short Dick Man” and “Lick It” produced by the group 20 Fingers in the 90’s. In other words, they sang lyrics that talks about an independent woman unafraid to speak about their sexuality and at the same time tries to subvert their objectification using that as an advantage.

Women highlighted in the media (actresses, singers, reality show participants, etc.) are invited to participate in Carnival festivities. To a foreign viewer, a country where women talk publicly about their sexuality and carnival is a celebration where they dance naked live broadcast, it may looks like that our women are very empowered. This  is a mistake. Violence against women in Brazil is alarming. In 2001 the Foundation Perseu Abramo brought the grim statistic that every 15 seconds a woman is beaten in Brazil. In 2006 was enacted the federal law No. 11340 known as “Maria da Penha” which seeks to punish with greater rigor and curb men  caught under domestic violence against women.
Maria da Penha Maia Fernandes, was a women brutally and repeatedly beaten by her husband for six years of marriage. He tried to murder her with a gun letting her paraplegic. On another occasion heelectrocuted her. Her husband was only condemned after nineteen years of trial, serving only two years in a closed regime.

Although there are significant advances in gender equality, Brazil has the ambiguous discourses and undercover prejudices in other areas that concerns a great variety of other minorities: Racism is present in the jokes, women who dare to walk on public with short skirts have their morals questioned and, if suffer any harassment or violence, usually will be blamed for her clothing. Besides having one of the largest Gay Parades in the World, the violence against Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transvestites, Transsexuals and Transgender remains.  The contradiction doesn’t stop there: Our layman state has the name of god on its ballots and the congress has strong religious content. Aggression and violence against pets and other animals is socially condemned but also tolerated, at the same time, we are the country with the largest processing of animal protein in the world with reports of slave labor in the livestock sector. Rejecting the consumption of products derived from animals is not only strange for the majority of the population, but it’s also seen as an insult and an affront to the cultural identity of a country that covers their inequality and violence under an unfair and very recent democracy.

See the original text, in Portuguese

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