Last week, a video went viral where a Capoeira Mestre picked up a female Contra-Mestre, kissed her on the butt, and after she reacted to what he did, he kicked her to the ground. This is one of the few times (if not the first time) an incident like this went viral because it was well documented and widely shared in the Capoeira community.
To provide some context, the event was a Women in Capoeira event, ie. meant to celebrate and respect women in Capoeira. What I saw in the video was a lack of respect for the people attending and the person the mestre was playing with, and more generally, it was a great disservice to us as Capoeiristas, because as a “Mestre” this person represents all of us.
The video has been shared many times and Mestre Ferradura, who is the topic of last week’s post (Capoeira, with no Mestre), wrote a blog article about the event. The reactions to the video came from men and women, universally condemning the actions of the Mestre who is in the video.
This issue is viral in another way. Many women who have been in Capoeira have experienced some amount of harassment, verbal or physical from another Capoeirista. There are many men guilty of the same thing, but they were not recorded or called out for their actions by others who might have witnessed it in the roda.
You might ask, but Calado, “what about outside the roda? These thing happen there as well!” And I agree, as men, we need to do a better job at being respectful towards women. This goes double for teachers who command a position of power in our community – they should be held to a higher standard.
Mestre Ferradura pointed out the many men who made comments like “If it was my sister I would beat his ass”. Similar to M. Ferradura, I don’t believe that these sorts of reactions are what we need. If violence is the only repercussion we can think of, then we clearly don’t know how to appropriately handle the situation.
Something I haven’t heard too many people talk about is how to deal with this Mestre or any other Mestre who shows this level of disrespect. There is a lot of leniency given to Mestres because of their position. The video is an example of someone taking advantage of their position, knowing that there will probably be little, if any consequences.
But what to do? Do we ban people from events? Do we refuse to do shows with them? Is it possible to take their rank as “Mestre”? I have not heard of someone being punished for things like sexual harassment in capoeira, but there have been plenty of cases where Capoeiristas are banished from the rest of the community or their mestres take away their belt for other offenses.
More than consequences, I think we need to educate our new teachers by showing them (preferably, by example) that as a male Capoeirista, your value is not tied to some macho bullshit. What matters is what you contributed: What have you given so that your brothers and sisters can blossom in Capoeira? How have you presented yourself as a leader? Virtues! We need virtues like respect, community, diligence, and dignity to guide us as we grow.
I honestly believe that the way this video became viral shows how much progress we have made as a community as much as it shows how much more we have to go.