“Our bodies are not available” – Carnaval dancers create the Samba Black Woman project; lectures address racism, sexism and women in the world of samba

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Note from BW of Brazil: It’s a very timely discussion. In both Brazil and the United States these days, the question of sexual harassment and assault is front page news. And what more fitting area for the discussion would there be than in the environment of Carnaval where many women are seen entertaining crowds with very little clothing. There are strong opinions about the issue on both sides. There are those who believe that women are asking to be targets of such harassment due to the amount of flesh they are exposing. Then there are those who say that what a woman never warrants harassment, disrespect or even assault.

It’s a complicated matter and unfortunately, stereotypes persist about the Brazilian woman. Just yesterday, I felt the need to respond to a comment made in a social network in which an American woman wrote something to the effect of, what can expect in a place where women walk the streets naked. I responded that, Brazil has been part of my life for nearly two decades, and in various trips and my time living in the country, I have never seen women walking the streets naked. Carnaval is an annual celebration in which one will seen more flesh exposed than usual, but that is the world of Carnaval and should not be mistaken for day-to-day life.

Carnaval season is indeed upon us, once again, but let us all remember; even when a woman is nearly naked, gyrating in a frantic samba and covered in a layer of sweat


Passistas (Carnaval dancers) create group of empowerment: “Our body is not available”

“This look that sees us as objects passes through the issue of non-professionalization of passistas. They don’t take us seriously,” says Mirna Martins Moreira.

Courtesy of Revista Fórum, with additional information courtesy of Sidney Rezende and Feras do Carnaval

Mirna Martins Moreira, 23 years and a passista (Carnaval dancer) since the age of 4 and today a Medical student at the Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ – State University of Rio de Janeiro), and three more amigas sambistas (samba-affiliated friends) – Rafaela Dias, Sabrina Ginga and Larissa Neves – created the Projeto Samba, Pretinha (Samba, Black Woman Project).

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The women of the Samba Pretinha project

The group has already given lectures in municipal schools and on the courts of samba schools Paraíso do Tuiuti and Salgueiro, addressing mainly the role of women in the samba, the experience of women as passistas and talk about racism that they have already witnessed or gone through. The idea is that stories serve as a lesson and inspiration to others. They also talk about the aspects that involve the empowerment of samba dancers. The information is from the blog of Ancelmo Gois at O Globo.

“This look that sees us as an object passes through the issue of non-professionalization of the passistas. They don’t take us seriously. We wear little clothing, but our body is not available. It is ours, nobody can outsource what is not theirs,” reflects Mirna.

Topics that will be addressed:

Hyper-sexualization and objectification of black women;

– Self-esteem of the black woman vs. being a passista;

– Our every day sexism;

– Everyday racism;

– Ways to circumvent situations;

– Legal ways to defend against the white patriarchy;

– Finding paths starting from the differences.


Rafaela Dias

“I am a Physical Education student, passista, teacher of samba, muse and one of the idealizers of the project Samba Pretinha!

Rafaela on the Globo TV variety show ‘Caldeirão do Huck’

My connection with Carnival comes from when I was 5 years old when I started to parade at APRENDIZES DO SALGUEIRO, at the age of 17, I went to ACADEMIA DO SAMBA (ACADÊMICOS DO SALGUEIRO), parading as a passista.

In 2011 I made my first international trip with samba (Turkey), in 2013 I was crowned Queen of the ala de passistas (dancers’ wing), in 2014 I was champion of the Musa Carnival contest on the Caldeirão do Huck program, in 2016 me and 3 other friends began Samba Pretinha, a traveling project that circulates in samba schools, in order to discuss the issue of women in samba, above all, the passista.

Source: Revista Fórum, Sidney Rezende, Feras do Carnaval, Sidney Rezende

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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