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The tshirts were withdrawn from sale yesterday after the Brazilian government complained they were “a crime against all humanity” that encouraged sexual tourism.
The tshirts, pictured here, were in questionable taste and the company was right to remove them from shop windows.
But the Brazilian government’s response is not just over the top (a crime against all humanity?), it is also hypocritical.
Walk down any Brazilian street and you are assailed by sensual images, both real and virtual, that go far beyond what you see in Europe or the US. Infant girls get their ears pierced and are adorned with pink ribbons. Children are wheeled out on TV shows in hot pants and crop tops where they dance suggestively. Gorgeous and scantily clad women are a fixture in adverts and on television.
Beer companies, to quote perhaps the most egregious example, don’t just have semi-naked blondes (yes, they’re usually blondes) in every commercial, they give their beers names such as Devassa, Proibida, and Gostosa.
Most of this is down to the private sector and, lamentably, the media.
But federal, state and municipal government rarely object and certainly not with the vigor they showed yesterday.
Instead, they continue to do business with the guilty companies. They give their imprimatur to carnival, where semi-nude and second rate models shake themselves atop pedestals under the guise of culture. They advertise with the offending media conglomerates.
This isn’t a comment on sexual attitudes. It’s a comment on hypocrisy and perspective.
Brazil is always sensitive about its image and will be even more so in the run up to the World Cup. But there are many more important issues to be resolved right now than the sale of a few questionable tshirts.
The furor over the tshirts is not wrong. It’s just missing the bigger picture.
My piece on the controversial Gisele Bundchen lingerie campaign is top of the Time’s most read list today.
I’d like to think that’s because of my sparkling writing and astute analysis. But I think it’s probably because it is about Gisele Bundchen in lingerie.
I can only imagine how popular it would be if I included videos of the three ads in my story, featuring the Gaucha goddess pouting away in her bra and panties.
You can find them here.
Here’s the first one for your delectation.
The two times I interviewed her, I called her by her real name, Raquel Pacheco.
But in Brazil, she is famous by another name.
Or maybe that should be notorious.
For her other name is Bruna Surfistinha, the name she used as a prostitute. Her memoirs, entitled ‘The Scorpion’s Sweet Venom: The Diary of a Brazilian Call Girl’, were based on her blog and were an instant best seller when they came out in 2006.
Today, she hits the big screen, when Debora Secco plays her in the film based on her book. (Here’s the trailer below.)
I spoke to her yesterday but am going to reprint parts of my interview with her in 2007, when her book was translated into English.
On both occasions, I found her remarkably honest about her work. Many Brazilian call girls deny they are prostitutes and prefer to the use the distinction garotas de programa. Pacheco was clear about the distinction, or lack of it.
“The difference is in the weight of the word,” she told me. “Prostitute and whore are vulgar words that are heavy with meaning. Lots of girls prefer to call themselves garotas de programa or acompanhante (escort) but it’s more or less the same thing. It just sounds more respectful.”
Here’s a bit more…
When it comes to sex, what is the biggest difference between Brazilian women and foreign women?
“Foreigners tell me that garotas de programa are a lot more liberal, they have oral sex and anal sex and they enjoy it and even if they don’t enjoy it they don’t show it. It is as if Brazilian women want to prove to their men that they enjoy sex. I can see that from talking to friends. Even if their men aren’t good in bed, they want to please them, they fake their orgasm, they fake that they are enjoying it. They make a point of showing they enjoy it. (Foreigners) think that Brazilians are the best girls in the world in bed. That’s not always the case. We have lots of models that are world famous, there are always scandals about prostitution. So when you talk about Brazil it is common to talk about sex. It’s like football and carnival, that is the image we have. Even foreigners who haven’t been to Brazil know the models and they have this image and think that we are all models. I think it is partly an illusion that Brazilian are experts in sex.”
How did you affirm a client’s ego?
“What a man wants when he hires a prostitute is to feel his ego massaged. He often doesn’t get compliments from his wife. He wants to hear that he is good in bed, handsome. Men worry about that, and they worry about the size of their penis. Almost everyone asked me if their penis is small and I always said no, that their penis was big. Lying was part of my job. I am sure that women, no matter which country they are from, like to hear compliments and men are no different. Women need to take care about that and say nice things. You have to be sincere, tell him he smells nice, how his body is hot, simples things that leave him at ease. When I did programs I like to do a strip tease, I took my time, without letting him touch me. And I also do that with my boyfriend. And I buy nice lingerie, or a sexy costume, and strip off. When a man is looking at a woman doing something for him, his mind is working on what he is going to do. What counts for a man is the body, to see it and to smell it. Men are voyeurs, they love to watch. My advice to married women would be to make themselves attractive to men. Put on lingerie, show yourself off, get a costume. Men love it. You can’t just jump on them and go for wild sex.”