Note from BW of Brazil: Brazil is a country that is known globally for having some of the world’s most beautiful women. This site is not a place for internet dating, but the various social network pages of the site consistently receives messages from men from all over the world saying they “love Brazilian women”, that their goal is to marry a Brazilian woman, or asking how they can meet a Brazilian woman. And to be sure, Brazilian women come in all skin tones, shapes and sizes with various hair textures and eye colors. The image that comes to mind when a man outside of Brazil thinks of a Brazilian woman seems to be borderline perfection, but what is it that a man, particularly a Brazilian man seeks when he decides to settle down with a brasileira? Well, according to statistics, the woman that least manages to make it to the alter is the black woman. In past articles, BW of Brazil has approached the issue of the difficulty of black women entering and maintaining long-time relationships and even delved into the topic of interracial relationships. Well, as we already knew, this blog is not the only place where the state of the black woman in life and relationships is being discussed. The issue is also being approached in books and even onstage.
The color of love
Affective everyday black woman: from the comprehension of loneliness to empowerment
By Maitê Freitas | PHOTOS Sangoma
Every now and then they say that “there are a lot of single woman.” What is not said is that most single women in Brazil are black. According to the 2010 Census, 52.89% of black women are unmarried, compared to 24.88% married black women and 2.60% divorcees. The numbers are scary, but living this statistic everyday and knowing that this is a historical legacy is much worse.
Author of the book Virou Regra? (Did It Become the Rule?) (2010/Scortecci), researcher, former councilor and chairman of SEDIN – Sindicato de Educação Infantil (Association of Childhood Education), Claudette Alves, explains: “The black woman faces loneliness independent of social stratum. This is not an exception, it is the rule, a historical symptom that indicates a real behavior, black women (in their majority) do not have the experience of love.”
In the same vein, the researcher Ana Claudia Lemos Pacheco, author of the recently released Mulher Negra: Afetividade e Solidão (Black Women: Affectivity and Loneliness) (2013/EDUFBA), reiterates: “Loneliness has its origin in the family structure, what do single black women have in common? Social origins and family. They are born and grow up with racism and sexism as crossed systems of oppression. Many have never experienced a fixed, lasting and healthy relationship. The black woman, besides being alone is the greatest victim of domestic violence.”
In line with this debate, two black collectives of São Paulo theater, Cia Capulana of Arte Negra and Os Crespos, mounted the plays “Sangoma” and “Engravidei, Pari Cavalos e Aprendi a Voar Sem Asas”, respectively. For actor Sidney Santiago (Os Crespos), dealing with the subject on stage makes of “theater a space for meeting, debate and healing. Art has its duty of the present to insert thematic faces to our black sociability and think that our emotional health is as important as all the other insertions.”
The dramaturgy written by the researcher Cidinha Silva have in common the use of real stories and the experience of the actresses, that on in the pieces give voice to lonely black women. “Sangoma e Pari Cavalos have in common abandonment and loneliness through which black women go through and the search for love as a way of healing, especially in healing themselves as they learn to love themselves more,” explains Cidinha.
The texts, made from the personal stories of actresses, struck a nerve with the public. “Many men are bothered by the spectacle, others recognize the story of their mothers, grandmothers…I can’t not talk about our experiences. Loneliness, silence, the difficulty of recognizing when love comes, as the the experience of love and liking ourselves was already taken from us,” says the actress and dancer Débora Marçal (Cia Capulanas).
The dream of prince charming, a wedding veil and wreath instilled in the female unconscious over the centuries, is not part of the reality of the black woman, educator and actress Adriana Paixão (Cia Capulanas) explains: “We follow post models, most black women don’t experience and have never experienced this Western model of relationship. Discussing other freedoms, other themes, we don’t even look at the black woman.”
According to actress Flavia Rosa (Cia Capulanas), “racism affects all fields, often times the first reference of love comes with racism, inside the home in relation to the mother, with the father (when he’s present) and siblings. From the moment that this contempt is naturalized, the other segments and spaces of relationship also naturalize this oversight. You don’t know what it is to be treated well, this extends to affective and institutional relations.”
The groups, which had as its starting point and inspiration for research an article by American activist and feminist bell hooks (her name is spelled in lowercase), whose article Living to Love (Vivendo de Amor in Portuguese) puts her finger on the wound and leads the audience to reflect on the affective role and construction of identity of black women. According to the playwright, “self-esteem today is the old self esteem of our grandparents and great-grandparents. Facing everyday racism that affects black women and their families, for which they are responsible, stealing the time and space to care for themselves, weakening love itself.”
Lucélia Sérigio, actress and director of the show “Pari Cavalos…”, believes that loneliness affects not only poor black women, but it is a constant among women whose intellectual and cultural formation is above average. In addition, we have many sexual stereotypes, we have that need to be strong and not succumb and this is also a problem in love. We are not the ideal of beauty, we are not in good jobs to help the partner grow, we are too hard, or less educated, among many other things. We’re not even in the novelas (soap operas)! A pretty black woman is seen as an exception to most Brazilians, educated and intelligent, mother of a family and companion, so…Damos barraco (let’s live together), we are gostosa (sexually ‘hot’) and cook well, that’s what we’re good for. Our struggle is to conquest otherness, dignity and integrity. This is only possible through love. It starts with our choices and our limits, but undergoes a collective consciousness of whites, blacks, yellows, blues, reds, everyone. That’s what we want in talking about our feelings and dislikes.”
Bringing up questions, criticisms and reflections on the affectivity of black women, Cia Capulanas addressed the theme by evaluating the history of health and diseases affecting the afrodescendente women (woman of African descent). “Within this historical construction, we have no right to be fragile. Even being the base of the pyramid, black woman take care of everything. We live the archetypal of the warrior, of the strong woman, because of this we implode and calluses, tumors and fibroids are born. We are this big tit that breast feeds everyone and everything, but who cares about us? This doesn’t mean that we want a relationship of submission, what we want is a relationship of exchange. If no one looks at us, let’s look at ourselves. We are always with the next person, looking for the next person, at what time do we look at ourselves?” adds the actress, poet and art educator Priscilla Preta (Cia Capulanas).
“Our affection is being buried every day because of the daily aggressions. We always need to clench our fists, swallow the tears, dry the tears and silence (them), we always come out losing this barbarism of mathematics. We are framed in clippings that speak of our physical attributes, our temperature, our musicianship, i.e. always being the object of the other,” reiterates actor Sidney Santiago.
When love becomes a political act
For some, talk about love has becomes mushy; for others, thinking and talking about affection and experience of love within the afro-feminine segment gains a “spiteful” and victimized connotation. However, there have been years of silence, submission and misunderstanding of the relationship. “The more we break the silence, the more we will empower ourselves and change what is historically set,” says Flavia Rosa.
To the measure that this woman empowers herself and finds stories equal to hers, loneliness loses the connotation of pain and becomes synonymous with freedom, or, in the case of theater pieces a political and curative act. “The body reframes this process with self-esteem. The embodiment may be revised and bring a reconstruction of self-image. There are women who have something in common, but they are not all the same,” says Ana Claudia Lemos Pacheco. “The escape is an empowerment of black women, we remember that it’s us who educate these men and that some stereotypes need to stop being reaffirmed by us, black women. It’s our truth, when the black woman speaks, it bothers (people) and generates non-conformity” reiterates Claudete Alves.
What these two groups debate goes beyond the sexual and erotic dimension of the stereotype of the afrodescendente woman. “We’re not talking about sex, but emotional health. A healthy family and balanced people is the least we can wish for in our society. One of the characters in the shows says ‘just imagine what an empowered woman can do when she decides to react against all oppression.’ Love is political, our choices too. The important thing is to learn to look beyond this distorted mirror that separates us from ourselves. We don’t talk about forcing ourselves to relate only among black men, we’re talking about why black women feel they are not loved and many of them have no companions, besides their children. Citing bell hooks, ‘our healing is in the act and art of loving’,” says Lucélia Sérgio.
With no prediction of the new season, the groups continue with research and fostering debate with the public. Os Crespos are preparing a show about homosexual relations among black men in the project “Cartas à Madame Satã” (Letters to Madame Satã), and Cia Capulanas are preparing for the release and screening of the documentary Sangoma, which deals with research on the health and identity of black women in Brazil.
Breaking the silence
In addition to the shows, other articles address the affectivity of black women:
– A documentary about the research process of the show Sangoma, of Cia Capulanas. In addition to excerpts from the piece, the documentary includes interviews and statistics on the health status of black women in Brazil. To purchase write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Released by EDUFBA late last year, the book is a result of the doctoral research of author Ana Claudia Lemos Pacheco (UNICAMP), and addresses the affective state of black women in Bahia, their stories and affective-sexual trajectories.
– The actress and poet Priscila Black presents erotic poetry in A Calimba e a Flauta, a book done in partnership with the poet Allan da Rosa. The book comes with an audio CD of poetry and musical arrangements. To purchase write to: email@example.com.
– A collection of poetry and prose edited by Collective Mjiba (São Paulo) and organized by journalist Elizandra Sousa. Distribution and sale: firstname.lastname@example.org.
– The book Virou Regra, made from the master’s thesis of the researcher Claudette Alves, addresses the affectivity of black women in the city of São Paulo. Controversial, the author makes a reflection on the loneliness of black women to the disregard of the black man not having relationships with them.
Source: Raça Brasil