Today, I went to Barnes and Nobles after meeting with friends at Starbucks. Ordinarily, I get a couple of magazines ( my true vice!) and maybe a paperback book. But today, I read a book entitled "Don't blame it on Rio". It is about the phenomena of African American men traveling on sex tourism tours, particular to Brazil.
Now, to this Caribbeans immigrants daughter, sex tourism is nothing new. I saw that all the time in Panama, the few times I visited, and I have read about the sex trade developing now in Cuba ( shame, shame, shame on Castro for allowing this, shame along with all his other crimes). Other islands in Caribbean had had the same, and am certain that Brazil has always had sex tourism of some sort.
Usually, with sex tourism, you envision some pale, sweaty German, traveling on his state pension and state guaranteed vacation, chatting up some underfed, far too young girl. Me and Panamanian friends would laugh behind our hands at such a sight, and hope that the girl was at least getting some rent and nice clothes out of the deal.
How strange, that it is not so funny when it comes to African American men. "Don't blame it on Rio" have the responses of these men who actively choose sex tourism over developing a relationship with other African american women ( or other american women, period). All the usual complaints these men have with African american women: Not submissive, too loud, too angry, too big, too educated, too materialistic, not supportive enough, not good looking enough, simply not good enough
for a African american man who has choices
A choice, then, is Brazilian women. The men who talk about Brazilian women rhapsodise about them as if they were the Circassian Beauties of old: beautiful, sexually available, submissive- the ideal women. With these women, you do whatever you want, whenever you want, and they are all beautiful to their eyes. There is quite pornographic descriptions of what these men experience with these women- be warned!- it is central to the thesis of the book and how these men experience relationships.
Basically, these women are not Brazilian doctors, lawyers, farm managers, scientists, engineers, writers, nurses, call center managers or even store owners. They are at worst prostitutes, at best kept mistresses. They understand, from the time that they are little girls, that their body and face is their fortune, not their minds nor their souls. Many of these women who allow defiling sexual acts to be done to their precious bodies do so to support a family, perhaps even a brother or sister who is at school. These women understand it is a business, and never mind whether it is a sweaty fat German train operator or African American businessman- there is money to be made, and so if the man idolises you, then so what? Then there is more to be made.
What is interesting in the descriptions these men give of Latin Countries demonstrate the true lack of knowledge about how these countries and societies work. Many of the men think that because these women go the distance sexually, then it is really true that Brazilian women are more free and natural with their sexuality. That shows a very basic misunderstanding of how Catholics, and Carribean people in general view the realm of the body, and it can be used. Brazilians, and Caribbean people in general, are no more freer with their bodies than anybody else- unless they are prostitutes or people who used them (the number one way HIV is transmitted in Brazil, BTW). Catholicism allows for human frailty and the need for spiritual uplift but also an understanding and framework to how to conduct one's life. It allows for forgiveness of sin and understanding of circumstances. And with the indigenous West African belief of the tripartite being and the hardship of slavery, what is done to flesh can never soil the spirit.
But with all this sex talk, the men don't speak a speck of Portuguese. Of course not- then they would discover that Brazilian women have complaints, and worries and anxieties. These women wonder about the stars, and about the future. They have soul, and they are seling their bodies to some accountant from Raleigh, North Carolina who wants her because she bears a passing resemblance to Halle Berry.
The books ends on an optismistic note. I don't think the authors where out to punish these guys but ask them to see the sad cruelty of their behaviour and a turn for the better.
I don't know. For many of these African American men, who smart enough and hard working enough to go to college, they want the whole colonialist package served to them-the submissive little woman, always attractive and sexually available with hot dinner on the table. Except that time passed, if it ever really existed, at least 40 years ago. And a woman who has money in her hand, and it was earned, truly earned, and not inherited or gotten by laying on her back, will never need to be submissive. She is a partner, an ally, a lover. That is more powerful and more beautiful, I think. Such a person can truly support a man and help build a beautiful life with. Strength and unity wihout exploitation and domination.
But a man who has a need to dominate, to be part of an hierarchal structure that is imposed from without and with no consequence is a deeply lonely and ultimately unloved creature
Labels: degrees of negritude, love, philosophy