This week a video went viral where a Capoeira Master, at a women’s event, picks up a female Capoeirista and kisses her on the butt cheek. After putting her down, she elbows and then slaps him, where he then immediately retaliates with a kick that sends her flying. All of the elements for a fantastic story are there: public exhibition of the female body, violence for the spectator, cowardice and fertile ground for the most preferred sport of national tabloids: gossip. It would have been really nice if any capoeirista that was present, ANY ONE, independent of gender, age or time spent in Capoeira, would have entered into the roda and shouted “Hey! Stop!” followed by: “Until we discuss and resolve what just happened here, there is no way to continue with the roda (capoeira games)!” and open a platform to debate the situation in question, exposing the ridiculousness of the inappropriate act. If the roda belongs to everyone then everyone is responsible. But that didn’t happen. That never happens. The indignation comes later, via facebook. How many times have we seen situations of oppression or violence, very similar to this one, where no one said anything? There are three things that call my attention in this roda (game):
1) The normalization of violence against women: historically women’s bodies are objectified by men, who feel they are in the right to do whatever they please and believe to be right, to the point that this particular master felt that he was in the right to kiss his opponents behind and nobody stop the roda (game) or say anything.
2) How normal has the violence within capoeira become: a roda (game) between friends where someone is picked up, an elbow is thrown, followed by a slap and a kick and no one to stop the roda (game).
3) The normalization of collective violence: a bombardment of comments that excite even more the violence that spreads like wildfire throughout facebook. We all talk a lot.
This specific master was probably invited to the event and this for sure was not the first time that he has demonstrated his “toughness” for others. Why didn’t anyone say anything? Why wasn’t the roda (game) stopped? The guy made a mistake. A really bad one. He messed up in a way that he would be sure to never make the same mistake again. Any type of violence against a woman should be reprimanded. Period. There is nothing to discuss. But hoooooww did that haaaaappen??? I have a question: is it possible that he’s soooooo different from the capoeiristas who were present? Or from the rest of us? The guy is being publicly torn apart and lynched, receiving dozens of threats from the tough guys on facebook, that sent virtual invites to visit their rodas and resolve things the violent way, like a well-known character from a brazilian TV show always says: “I will beat you up!”
In the comments you can see macho-males saying very interesting things like: “If it was my sister I would beat his ass” or “She’s someone’s girlfriend! She deserved respect.”
My friend, look at this: If beating someone up resolved the problem and taught them a lesson, jails would be full of people who have transformed their lives and changed their behavior. It’s no use teaching a lesson to the citizen who committed an act of violence with the same violent behavior.
If we keep on punishing an eye for an eye, everyone will go blind.
And no, it’s not the fact that she’s someone’s sister or girlfriend that the kiss on her butt was disrespectful, ok?! It’s disrespectful because it was an act of oppression, period.
What’s curious is that all of a sudden a bunch of guardians of morality appear, all of them extremely pissed off as if this distinct person who committed the act had come from another planet or any other art form. Was he an alien practitioner of tantric yoga? No. He’s a capoeirista like many others who left their country to try their luck in foreign lands, taking with him his title of master in Capoeira and his personal experience, which is the fruit of a culture which is macho and violent. The kiss, the kick, the slap, the elbow and everything else that happened in the scene is not something that is so distant from this art or unfamiliar to us in this country. On the contrary, this scene is very common in Capoeira and in Brazil in general with varying situations. To resolve conflicts in Capoeira, chauvinism and violence are the rule, not the exception.
WHAT DO I HAVE IN COMMON WITH HIM?
A quick online search is all you have to do to see that there are many, but many of your online friends who have something in common with him on facebook. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Know that among your friends there are misogynists, homophobes, racists and imbeciles of all types. Because we are a product of our environment that says something about us… It’s much easier to cuss out the culprit than to think about the fact that he has a mother, wife, daughter; that he has a Capoeira master; that he has students; he is another representative of capoeira in Europe, who has even appeared on Luciano Huck (look it up on Youtube)… That truthfully, he is very similar to the mirror we have at home.
I’M NOT A MALE CHAUVINIST! HE IS!
Everyone against chauvinism! Is that really the case? My friend, guardian of morality: isn’t it you who gets irritated with the way that your girlfriend dresses? Isn’t you who, every time you see a woman, feel that you have the right to catcall her? Isn’t it you that in the middle of a Capoeira event, start to flirt with girls and say inappropriate things when they have not given you the liberty to do so? Isn’t it you that goes to an event already counting down the hours to the recreation time when you’re going to try to hit on the female students? Isn’t it you that confuses the admiration a woman has for your capoeira for sexual and physical interests? Isn’t it you who are married to a female capoeirista but make it a point that everyone knows that you hook up with many other women and have many lovers? Who has never seen a master or future master be inappropriate with women whether it be in the roda (game), through comments, at the Samba or parties? The idea that a capoeirista has to get all of the girls has to do in (a big) part with our environment. Sexual harassment in Capoeira is usually swept under the rug, with women having to distance themselves while constantly being put to the test as they deflect physical attacks that are much worse outside of the roda (game) than inside. Do you think that the time has come for male capoeiristas to reflect more seriously regarding their own proper actions? Is it possible that we are so different from the aggressor in question?
A song that was taken as funny, was making the rounds until a while ago in the Capoeira rodas and you can still find it on the lyrics website:
Its called “Women For Me” and goes as “A woman for me has to maintain the profile, She has to play capoeira She has to be sexy, hot and beautiful (I said)
Things have gotten better with time. At least you don’t hear that type of idiocy in the majority of the rodas but sexualization continues being an integral part of our culture. For example: whenever you search the word “Capoeira” in Youtube, what is the video that has the highest number of hits? Master Bimba? Master Pastinha?
No. The first one is this one, with more than 22 million hits:
When you play the video it has nothing to do with Capoeira but everything to do with Samba. Do you think that could mean something?
The female figure is a constant topic of conversation at the bar after the rodas. “I fucked this one, I fucked that one”, “did you see that fine ass girl with her tight white capoeira pants on?” Are there gonna be a lot of women at such and such’s event?”
When women complain about chauvinism they are seen as being dramatic or just being difficult.
In this environment an individual feels the freedom to kiss his opponent’s butt in the roda (game) just like another feels the freedom to call her “seeeeeexy” on the corner or send the classic “Girl, I’ll suck you from head to toe” in the middle of the street.
Continuing with Youtube searches, we come across these types of videos.
Those that have more than 2 million views in one year don’t say something about us spectators? The things that we value?
Now, whenever there’s a capoeirista knocking out an adolescent or kicking a woman in an event, pacifists sprout from all around.
My pacifist friend: isn’t it you who thinks it’s cool to tattoo the forehead of a bicycle thief? Isn’t it you that says that “the only good type of thief is a dead thief?” That prefers to have a dead son over a gay son? That encourages your students to kick without any control, slap someone in the face and incorporate wrestling takedowns? Isn’t it you that whenever someone hurts themselves in the roda (game), is the first one to say: “You were weak! If you had been training more that wouldn’t happen.”
Isn’t it you that encourages a strong breed of Capoeira, “warriors”, ready for anything?
Using a little more common sense is good for everyone: no one should ever be lifted up into the air in a Capoeira roda, smack or elbow someone and much less kick the ribcage of someone who is half your weight. Kissing someone’s ass is just another surreal act in a festival of anomalies, that far from being alien, say a lot about ourselves.
The photo below was taken from a real case that happened a couple of weeks ago in Brazil, where a thief was tatooed “I’m an idiot thief” on his forehead.
If we begin to tattoo the foreheads of every single error and lack of judgement made in Capoeira there will be a shortage of foreheads and ink.
Hundreds of interesting videos and articles are posted daily regarding culture, politics, the body and other topics very interesting to Capoeira. However, scandalous videos and gossip are much more popular. It’s enough to just post something like: “there’s a lot of capoeiristas buying their master tittle” or “look at such and such’s work with capoeira: that’s not capoeira!” so that they can gain notoriety from the gossip.
Who has never seen a master who spends the majority of their time speaking badly about other’s work? That’s the gossip culture, but that’s a topic for the next post! That’s all for today!
Axé! Mestre Ferradura
PS – Share and comment your ideas on this post! If you liked it or if you think that I’m just “making noise”, make sure to comment and mark your friends so that we can debate together!
Translation by Bebê CDO! Many thanks!