Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Don't Blame It on Rio: The Real Deal Behind Why Men Go to Brazil for Sex

by Jewel Woods and Karen Hunter
Grand Central Publishing
Hardcover, $23.99
304 pages

Book Review by Kam Williams

“Black women were once at the center of black men’s lives, as wives, mothers, lovers and partners… However, in this generation, black women have become somewhat of a nuisance, a burden, and perhaps even a pariah in black men’s lives…
For the first time ever, large and growing numbers of black men have the option to ask what they perceive to be a legitimate question: Are black women necessary?
This book is not only going to deal with the question ‘Are black women necessary?’ It will also take a look at the broader question of why black men are looking for something they think is outside black women.”
Excerpted from the Introduction (pages 2-8)

Did you know that Brazil, the country with the largest concentration of people of African descent in the Western hemisphere, has become the favorite vacation destination of a rapidly-increasing number of professional black men? Apparently, they’re flocking to Rio de Janeiro for more than a little rest and relaxation on a sun-drenched beach.
The country is now also a popular port of call with bourgie brothers due to the easy availability of beautiful Brazilian women (“Halle Berry on steroids”) who don’t have the attitude or emotional baggage they generally find attached to sisters back at home. Some of them describe attaining “a level of physical and sexual intimacy, a sort of sexual healing, that they see as lacking in many of their current relationships with black women.” Consequently, they don’t mind having to venture to Rio de Janeiro repeatedly for “an experience that they think are denied them by black women in America.”
We have Jewel Woods and Pulitzer Prize-winner Karen Hunter to thank for blowing the covers off this clandestine sex trade currently flourishing in Brazil. For these two investigative journalists interviewed dozens of the peripatetic African-American men, many leading double lives, in preparation for co-writing Blame It on Rio, a rather revealing look at an emerging cultural phenomenon,.
And exactly why is this generation of black men with money so fond of Brazilian women? The authors blame a variety of contributing factors. First, the fact that they grew up watching hip-hop music on BET which groomed them to expect a rainbow coalition of gorgeous models eager to satisfy. And that utopian fantasy is just a plane ride away, since “Going to Rio is like walking into a rap video: scantily clad women, gyrating and fawning over every man in sight.”
Another factor is addressed by an African-American physician who found salvation in Rio from sisters’ bad attitudes in the States. He asks point blank, “Where else in the world is a black woman’s attitude accepted as the social norm, except in America?”
Next, the issue of anger is raised, with the observation that, “In complete contrast to the warm and affectionate demeanor of Latin American women, the most prominent characteristic of black women is anger.” Here, Woods and Hunter again blame the entertainment industry for causing black men to view their women with contempt by perpetuating the mammy stereotype by having “Tyler Perry, Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy “ put on a fatsuit and a dress to solidify “the image of the fat, loud, rude black woman.”
Other chapters explore widespread rejection of black women over their frigidity, obesity and Christianity. The participants in the project are so relentless and rabid on their indictment of the African-American female, I couldn’t help but pause periodically to wonder whether this was all a joke, since I’ve never previously heard anyone mention Rio as a sexual retreat.
Despite all of the dissing, the authors are ultimately optimistic about black male-female relationships, though they suggest that professional brothers are in dire need of an extreme makeover. They close with a list of “Ten Things Black Women Need and Want,” including understanding and truth.
A controversial expose’ about a shocking trend likely to divide and devastate the Hip Hop Generation along gender lines in the absence of constructive conversation capable of paving the path to honesty and reconciliation.


Anonymous said...

As a Brother who has lived in Rio for the last four years and has been visiting Rio for a total of 16 years I can only say that your review and Jewel Wood's book could not be further from the truth. For one; Brothers coming to Rio is not some new trend. Its not some emerging cultural phenomenon and it certainly isn't clandestine. I know Brothers who have been coming here since the 70s. Its been a well kept secret and regretfully it hasn't stayed that way. The fact that brothers have been coming here for so long makes all of this psycho babble about "are black women necessary?", men being angry with black women, the hip-hop influence, and widespread rejection of black women just a bunch of bs to sell books. Any Brother who harbors feelings of anger or rejection towards Black Women most likely had those feelings long before he discovered Rio and Hip-hop didn't even exist when most of the brothers started coming here. If any of these factors actually existed brothers would have been through with sisters long ago and since Brothers have been visiting Rio for decades and living normal lives back in the states just goes to show how meaningless a little action on the side really is. The facts are that Rio is NOT like a hip-hop video full of gyrating women waiting to fawn over men. That's like saying Washington DC is like a basketball court filled with high jumping black guys waiting to dunk on you. Its a racist stereotype thats not true. In fact the reality is just the opposite. Because the sex workers are the only ones who actually mingle with the Brothers; normal women will have nothing to do with foreigners for fear of being labeled as a sex worker. Walk into any regular Brazilian club in Rio and the women will not even look or talk to a foreigner because foreigners or gringoes are all assumed to be guys just there for some cheap sex. Rio is a huge metropolitan city almost 500sq miles and with over 6 million people and not even a half of a half percent of the female population contributes to the women who work the sex trade in Rio. Most brothers who come to Rio see about one mile out of that 500sq miles because most stay in Copacabana and to narrow it down even more they stay within a four block radius where most of the working girls congregate. The facts are that Brothers are NOT coming here by the thousands as its being made to seem. At any given time there might be as little as twenty brothers here or as many as two hundred. That's all. The facts are that white Americans and Europeans outnumber brothers about 100 to 1. The facts are that White Americans and Europeans have been coming here for decades before the Brothers started coming and when was the last time you saw an article in People, Redbook, Cosmopolitian or the NewYorker about white guys flocking to Brazil. This line from your review sums up why most brothers come to Rio:"the easy availability of beautiful Brazilian women (“Halle Berry on steroids”) who don’t have the attitude or emotional baggage they generally find attached to sisters back at home." Its time for someone,anyone of reasonable intelligence to read between the lines. "Easy availability", "beautiful women", "no attitudes or baggage". Take your head out of the sand!! 98% of these guys, white,black,asian, or indian come here for one reason and one reason only: Cheap, no strings attached sex with young,passionate ,beautiful girls is better than sex with older women, their wives or girlfriends. That's it. If Brothers could find the same type of sex in a neighborhood ten blocks from their house they'd be there. If there was a city in Florida, Texas, Cali or Utah where they could find it Brothers would be there. It has NOTHING to do with sisters per se because if a city in the USA existed where the ratio was 5 to 1 with beautiful, sexually uninhibited sisters doing their thing Brothers would be there. Every year Brothers flock to Cancun,Springbreak, Southbeach and the like in hopes of coming across some freaks. In the back of every Brother's mind when he goes on vacation anywhere is the thought of hooking up with some gorgeous woman that he'll never have to see again. I'm sure you've gone to book signings and conventions and seen a woman in the crowd and thought; hmmm. Its the same reasons why men go to Thailand, Dominican Republic and every other third world country where sex is a cheap commodity. There is no mystery. There are no deep seeded psychological reasons. The Brothers don't hate the Sisters just like the white guys who come here don't hate white women. 75% of Brazilians are of African decent. They are as much Sisters as any American woman. The vast majority of men who visit here go back to their wives and girlfriends when their week is over no less loving than when they arrived and they've been doing it for years. To understand the Real Deal behind why men go to Brazil for sex one has to understand the cultural differences between Brazil and the USA when it comes to sex. When it comes to sex Brazil is like Godzilla,King Kong, and the Terminator all rolled into one while the USA is don knotts mixed with elmer fudd. The USA is a sexless society. The American media likes to talk about who's sexy. It describes cars,phones,clothes and perfumes as sexy but heaven forbid someone should actually have sex. Men of every race, age, financial bracket, and appearance come to Brazil complaining about the lack of sex and the drama one has to go through for sex in the USA. Professional athletes, actors, ceos,lawyers, realstate moguls and doctors all say the same thing. Sex with American women is too much of a hassle. Especially good sex. The USA had a seizure at the one second sight of janet jackson's saggy boob. During Carnaval in Brazil women march topless and naked in front of hundreds of thousands of people and its all televised on regular tv, not cable. The government handed out over a million condoms during Carnaval. They have condom machines in schools. Not more than 50 yards from one of the largest churches in Rio there's a gentlemans club. Here there are no sexual taboos. But its a controlled frenzy. Brazilian culture accepts the fact that people are going to have sex so instead of trying to get people to abstain from sex and trying to regulate with who,what,where and in what position you can have sex like American society does Brazilian society promotes a safe,healthy sex life. I could go on and on but you have to experience Rio for yourself and then you'd see that Mr. Woods book as well as the Essence article are just a bunch of gibberish written to make money. Fiction like Mr.Wood's book only serves to cloud the minds of Black Women who will undoubtedly run out to buy it and take every untruth as gospel.

Anonymous said...

When will Black women learn that people write books, movies, and songs that say negative things about Black men to make money and gernerate controversey? I can't believe that sistas aren't more hip to this game. Get over it. Get real and stop whining. There are availible Black men who are interested in meeting quality women with whom life can be shared. And those Black men are not, at least in the numbers porported in the "statistics", excluding Black women from that search.

I believe it is important for Black women to understand a few key facts when it comes to dating. Many sistas need to loose the attitudes. Many need to stop expecting a man to chase them. Many need to stop having kids with thugs and then trying to date "decent" guys later. Many also need to do away with their emotional baggage. Nothing irks a man, especially a Black man, more than having to bear the grunt of a woman's mistrust, abuse, suspicion, and quoting of stupid statistics and sterotypes.

Contrary to what many Black women seem to believe, Black men are interested in more than sex. Has anyone considered that brothas are going to Brazil just to have a good time and unwind? Has anyone considered that White men have been going on "sex vacations" for who knows how long, especially to countries inhabited by (guess who) Black women?

I'm so sick of the whining! If you want to find a man, how about doing the things thatattact men's attention. Things like carrying yourself like a woman and not a walking advertisement for B.A.P.S.

RoseAnn said...

I agree with most of both of the previous comments made. However, I must adress this issue from a Black woman's point of view. First of all please stop with the generalizations; stop saying Black women and be specific. It wouldn't be fair to say "Black men" because there is no blanket statement that applies to all Black men.
Not all sisters believe everything they read, and we know that "sex sells," is a scheme to make money (hence the phrase). But, we also know that it is at the expense of the image of the real Black woman.

Thank you for pointing out the blatant racism that has been in the minds of so many for so long. But, I never even thought that men forsaking Black women was a cause for Black men going to Rio.
Sometimes, I HATE the fact that I am a Black woman in America, don't get me wrong, I love being Black. But there is such a stigma attached to being a black woman! Why are we always portrayed in a way that only perpetuates stereotypes? And also being a single mom it's even worse. I hate that when one sister does something, some people of other races don't say "her" they say "them." It seems that no matter how hard-working, intelligent, dedicated, level-headed, and ambitious I am, people judge by my exterior. I don't even mind being single (my son, my job and my ministry keep me busy), I just don't want it to be because I'm being stereotyped by my own.
Lastly, I hate when people talk about baggage. Sorry, but I do. Everyone who has been in a relationship that has ended has baggage. That means men too. But there are some of us who believe that no matter what a previous man did or didn't do, there are still good Black men out there. And I know that those men know that there are some good Black women out here, too. And I say here because I know that I am a good Black woman, I'm not being cocky, I'm just confident. And I applaud every good Black man that will say that he is without blinking. I know that God has someone for me so I keep my standards where they need to be, and don't settle for less while I wait on God.
I hope this somehow shed some light on something, otherwise I was just talking and venting, which is also useful.