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VIRAL VIDEOS

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.

SHARES

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.

REPERCUSSIONS

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.

EDUCATION

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.

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2 Comments

  1. As a woman in capoeira, I can tell you that I have experience a lot of sexism in the art, including violence and harassment and men saying that women are too soft to play with in the roda. I have seen way too many high cordaos take advantage of their position to have sex with their young students or mestres going to batizado expecting to get laid. It is disgusting but until more men call other men on it, it will remain the same. Because as a woman, we are told often, “ahh that’s just our culture.” I left one of my groups because so was disgusted by the sexism and how often my teacher cheated on his fiance with students and then had the nerve to ask us to cover it up. Infidelity is also super high and students just have to pretend they dont see it. I mean it’s so prevalent me and my friends have joked that in order to get your teacher cord, you have to cheat on your partner as part of the initiation. But the question is how to address this esp when going up in rank is dependent on your teacher who could also be sexually harassing you?

  2. I think an important conversation happening around this topic is addressing violence against women in the roda as soon as it happens. I’m not sure what happened at this particular event but anyone who witnesses this kind of act and remains silent is complicit.

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