I was recently talking to a friend and they were telling me about how Brazilian women are seen abroad. I knew the stereotypes of Brazil and Brazilian women, long before this conversation. Brazilian people in general are seen as being lazy (an overarching stereotype of Latin American people in general), but also being “spicy” and “foreign/exotic.” The whole country of Brazil is seen as one big beach party, or the Amazon rain forest. There’s no in between. As for gender, Brazilian women are seen as beautiful, but also sexually promiscuous/available. Men are also seen this way, as seen in most recently in Inside Out, where the mother has a day dream about a Brazilian helicopter pilot. He has a sexy accent, a half buttoned shirt, toned muscles, and a full head of hair. In addition, recently on the 3rd episode of season 11 of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon comments on his Brazilian bikini line. This is funny because the stereotype for a man's bathing suit in Brazil, is a lot smaller than in the U.S. Sheldon doing anything "sexual" is the butt of the joke. They use Brazil as a way to mark him as sexually deviant.
My friend was telling me that when she went abroad, she didn’t want to tell people she was Brazilian because of these stereotypes against Brazilian women. For Brazilian men, these sexual stereotypes are demeaning (reducing a human being to an animal), but they’re also somewhat empowering. Men are supposed to be sexual and strong, so being a Brazilian man emphasizes that, and makes women “respect” them. As for Brazilian women, these "exotifying" stereotypes high light all the ways in which women are seen as weak, and objects for pleasure. This stereotype doesn’t make women respected worldwide, but rather, disrespected. Foreign men and even Brazilian men, see Brazilian women in a hyper sexualized way which dehumanizes them even further. They're sexualized no only for being a woman, but a Brazilian woman.
It’s important to realize that there are no truths in these stereotypes. Stereotypes about “less developed countries” are falsehoods spread by the “first world.” Brazilians didn’t create these stereotypes themselves, of course not. They were created by more privileged/white individuals/nations to put people of color down. To make them lesser and assert their superiority as “natural.”
Being from the U.S., one of these more “privileged” countries, I need to be conscious and aware that these stereotypes were made with help from my country. I profit off of these stereotypes because they’re not put on me. Yes, there are stereotypes about Americans in turn, but the stigma against Brazilians/Latin Americans are harsh racial stereotypes that dehumanize others, and make it seem as though western powers have a right to exploit them and input their own puppet governments. Americans being loud, lazy, obnoxious, etc, doesn’t hinder my personhood, but calling Brazilian women sexually promiscuous does. With great privilege, we have a great responsibility to stop spreading these stereotypes that came out of a racist history to change the present.
This of course doesn’t mean that Brazilian people can’t be racist, because of course there are Brazilian people who are racist. POC can be racist toward other POC. It’s hard to separate nation and race, but I’m trying to do that here.
21 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.