Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

I'm not a Whore

This was not uploaded because it was tame, but because it's the School I root for!

I'm not a prostitute. I don't sell sex for money. However, when I tell people from other countries that I'm from Brazil, after a little while they start asking me about the the promiscuous stereotype of the Brazilian woman. That subject makes me unbelievably sad, so I though in addressing it in a post.

That stereotype comes from a couple images: one, from Carnival, when in the parades, women get half naked. Two, women supposedly wear little clothing in Brazil. Three, from many Brazilian "sex workers" (this is between quotations for the reasons I'll explain later) that are found in Europe and the United States, but mainly Europe.

The first one is absolutely ludicrous. Carnival in Rio is a huge, HUGE celebration. And you have street parties and the big parade at Sambodromo, which mainly celebrate the communities that work for entire year to make that happen. Now, the parade itself it's artistic celebration. They got grades and the best qualified parades get to present themselves in the Champion's parade. It's not just about naked people, there is a context. Comparing to the nakedness (I may be inventing that word ) that happens in the Mardi Gras in New Orleans (not using in a derogatory manner, just using for comparison purposes ), those parades are pretty tame. In the street parades there aren't naked people, but there is lot of fun.

Regarding the second one. Women don't walk around half naked in Brazil, if you were expecting that, you'll be really disappointed. At beach areas with have a more informal dress code. Bikinis and sun dresses or Bermuda shorts. It's not that different from any beach place in the world. Because it's hot and there is no point on going to the beach fully clothed - seriously.

The third point actually breaks my heart and it's the main topic of this post. Those "sex workers" are usually trafficked women. So, it becomes another episode of blaming mostly victims for a business that in Latin America only - according to the International Organization for Migration - has profit over 16 billion dollars, and let me tell you, they are not the ones that the money is going to.

So how do we change this?

How do we help not only to break this stereotype, but also help possible victims?

Get Informed!

Get informed on the sex trafficking industry. Knowledge is power.

I'm sharing with you 3 publications that, for me, were very informative:
- Trafficking of Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation in the Americas of the Pan-American Health Organization
- I know there is a large American audience here so, SEX TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
- And for my fellow Brazilian friends, this is in Portuguese PESQUISA SOBRE TRÁFICO DE MULHERES, CRIANÇAS E ADOLESCENTES PARA FINS DE EXPLORAÇÃO SEXUAL COMERCIAL NO BRASIL

And one of the best PSA I have ever seen, Torture by any other name. Or just check it out their short film - The Journey.

Don't be a part of the problem

Don't hire prostitutes or buy porn. Sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity today. Just assume, the prostitutes are trafficked women, because stats show, they likely are. Sweden was manage to curb sex trafficking by controlling the demand side as well as dismantling networks. Being honest, as long as there is a demand for it, people will find a way to make a profit out of it.

Be a part of the solution!

Share your new found wisdom with others. Be am activist, even if though the web. Donate to the cause. Buy at the Body Shop. Report any suspicious activity. There are many ways to help. For more information, check out:
http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/index.html
http://actioncenter.polarisproject.org/take-action/featured-actions
http://www.helenbamber.org/
http://www.humantrafficking.org/combat_trafficking
http://www.sagesf.org/html/issues_main.htm
http://www.reporterbrasil.com.br/documentos/cartilha_trafico_pessoas.pdf (in Portuguese)

I guess my overall point is that we (human beings) are doing this to ourselves, so WE have the power to stop it.

Last thoughts (I promise)

Everything must be taken with a grain of salt. There is no country where all women are promiscuous or puritans. Is like saying there are countries of all women like red. People are different and so are their preferences. We shouldn't be quick to judge or to perpetuate that kind of imagery, because stereotypes can be extremely dangerous, especially if they help feeding criminal activities.

It is real and it needs to stop

Comments

Fatima Waziri's picture

Thank you for sharing! It's

Thank you for sharing! It's just easier for people to stereotype rather than educate them by being informed.

Peace!
Fatima

NatashaLeite's picture

Thanks!

Just one more note to everyone, I guess it could be called an open request: I'm speaking from a Brazilian perspective, and that's mainly what I know. So, If you've got any added information from other regions of the world, I would love to hear it!

Myrthe's picture

Armenia

Natasha, I can relate to your comments very well as I have to deal with similar stereotypes. I am originally from Holland, but I have been living in Armenia for the past 5 years. Armenia is a tiny country on the crossroads of Europe and the Middle-East with traditional ideas about marriage and gender roles. For example, women are not supposed to engage in sex until their wedding night, but men are free to do whatever they want.

One of the ideas people have here of "the West", is that women are promiscuous and that all women basically jump into bed with everyone and anyone. It being accepted for women (and not only men) to engage in casual sex and it being accepted that women have sex before marriage in "the West", does not mean that "Western" women will jump into bed at every available opportunity and with any and every available men. There are times when I get really tired of having to explain this over and over again.

NatashaLeite's picture

Dear Myrthe

I'm absolutely ashamed for not responding to your comment sooner. Well, you are absolutely true. Although they come from very traditional societies, Women from Eastern Europe and Caucasus are portrait as this, humm, how should I put it, extremely sexual (?) women. Specially in the United States, in this day in age, when Armenian women are associated with Kim Kardashian. And it is very sad and tiring to have to explain the truth behind the myth. But we are doing it. One step at a time. Thanks for sharing!

monyki's picture

Hey you

You know this is a cultural problem we have in Brazil. All this you wrote, I carried as a personal campain in Japan and all parts of the world I've been. All this you wrote here, I used to speak out every single day, specially when I was engaged in an musical carrier.

But it was useless. And I got really hurted. The more I tried to defend the Brazilian women in Japan, the more the Japanese dirty men tried to make me look more and more as a sexual worker (whore, hooker, etc). I spend years trying to understand why did that happen to me. Then I figure out something, after I got back to Brazil: the case is that in most conservative or hierarchical cultures, what women say is not important, is delirious, is madness, is nonsense. Women are not listened the same way men get listened. And in Brazil, most men are publicly very very chauvinistic! You listen terrible comments towards Brazilian women, in MTV, in the radio, in the media, in journalists comments.

So, I had to endure comments like "You see!? Even the men in YOUR own country treat you as trash!", so I got even more humiliated, what I was defending sounded meaningless and I sounded silly! I'm not like Ivete Sangalo or Claudia Leitte with that grave voice, a male-like voice! Asian girls genetically have voices more high, that sound "childish" to those men. They are taught to not respect people who don't sound like a man!

So, for my sake or not, I found supportive male friends from other nationalities that were of the same religion, or a similar religion as me. Mainly English speakers (because I'm fluent in English), and I rely on them and it have been working. It feels like family to me, and I feel more protected when facing a man from Asia, Latin America or Africa that are going out of the line. I don't know why, but they respect (or are scared of) English speaking men.

For my surprise, little by little some men of other religions also started to show respect. They were able to understand explanations that the other guys were making. They communicate in a way they can comprehend one another, and me as well. Sometimes, if I speak they don't understand it the same way as if a male friend of mine explains it. Guess it's part of gender difference. I started feeling optimist.

For that I'm grateful. I'm lucky to be also an English speaker and to have found good hearted people from foreing countries. It's not their obligation, you know? They do it because they are engaged in fight violence against women.

Also, letting them know me, in the meanwhile they started to realize that not all Brazilian girls are from slums, or are sex workers, or wish to go out naked on Carnival parades. They realized that many Brazilian women are just like the women in their country, so they stopped making general judgments. It's not the ideal, but it's a start.

Off course the Brazilian guys got jealous of that, and started to treat me with anger (even morally violent), they were thinking "are you saying I'm not capable to defend my woman?", but that treatment made them look even more disrespectful to girls. And the case is that I was never a Brazilian guy woman. They even call me "Japanese", so all my international friends feel me like I am not Brazilian at all.

I just accepted the fact that I'll never be like the average of Brazilians, and that I will ALWAYS be international. To help make Brazilian girls find a better image, I started to support campains against violence agains women, human trafficking, forced labor (both sex labor and traditional types of labor), and cultural diversity.

But I realized that acting agressive for being offended when somebody of another country don't understand your country's culture, and judge it thru their own culture eyes don't work. You get angry, they get pissed off, lots of fights. As a woman I had to be "humble" (I prefer inteligent), and make an effort to learn the others culture and try to explain my own culture (like a Carnival parade for example) in a language, in terms, of the other culture. Using references they understand, making examples or comparisons to things they are used to, so little by little they start to understand my culture better and start to respect.

Plus, everyone feels good when you try to learn about them, when you show interest about them, and you don't say they are wrong or bad in judging you the way they are. Plus, when somebody of their own culture is mean to you, or your own culture, the nice decent guys start to defend you. It's a good marketing to both you and them. Because you can help them to be welcomed in Brazil as well, and who doesn't love Brazil landscapes?

Anyway, I realized that if the Brazilian men don't defend us, we have almost no respect from the guys of other nationalities!
My strategy worked personally for me (because of my generic apperance, not too local look), and helped the international guys to get to know Brazil more. But the average-like Brazilian girls, need the support of the genuine Brazilian boys or they don't get a chance. The stereotype will prevail.

I, personally, am more separated in this issue. I'm considered not 100% genuine Brazilian, so everyone feels like it's OK for me to have international support. But girls like you, or from the slums can rely mainly (or only) on genuine Brazilian guys.

That's my opinion.

That's the solution I found. If you have one better, let me know.

NatashaLeite's picture

What has been working for me

Well, I like to think that first we rely on ourselves to change the culture. As part of the process of "being the change you want to see in the world". So, first, we should educated ourselves about women's empowerment and join networks of support and help spread the message. Because it works, just thinks about campaigns like "Arma: ou ela ou eu" or the increase of reporting domestic violence, thanks to the anonymous denounces you can make. We can disregard what we have accomplished. This year, we have two strong president candidates, that, for me, means change. I know you probably didn't mean it that way, but I hear the phrase "average girls like you should rely on genuine Brazilian guys" and I get chills over my spine. Not only because it perpetuates that kind of cycle but also because I was brought up to rely on myself first and I don't think that relying on guy to change attitudes is the answer.

Bottom line, this was mainly a post about Brazilian women and what dangers lye within of stereotypes. However, it is good to hear your experiences because I see how different and unequal in so many ways our country really is. I live in Rio and we have a pretty easy going atmosphere. We also have a pretty strong culture of civil society movements and ways to speak up. Sometimes, being from Rio, like you said is to show that there is more to Brazil than slums, sex workers and people that go naked in the Carnival, but is also to bring upon ourselves to set the record straight that most people that live on the slums are just regular people trying to live their lives like everyone else, sex workers elsewhere can be victims of sex traffic rings and most people in the Carnival just don't go naked.

Thanks for your comment!

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

World Pulse Launches our Inaugural Community Advisory Board!

World Pulse Launches our Inaugural Community Advisory Board!

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative