One of the progenitors of the mythical Brazilian “racial democracy” ideology, anthropologist Gilberto Freyre himself wrote that “it was the bodies of the black girls, sometimes 10-year old girls…that freed white women from sexual assault.”(1) Moreover, the virginity and chastity of white women during the colonization of Brazil was protected through the prostitution of the black female slave. This exploitation of the black female body is a legacy that has continued today in a few ways.
For example, tourist agencies targeting European male tourists who come to Brazil in search of “ethnic” prostitution and sexual commerce would promote Brazil as a tropical paradise using flyers and catalogs featuring brown-skinned, sometimes semi-nude baianas* (2). Exploitation of the black body is also apparent every year, slightly before and during the month of February, when black women that are usually largely invisible from Brazil’s major television channels throughout the year suddenly become abundant on television programs, appearing semi-nude, gyrating their hips, legs and derrieres at lightning speeds in Carnaval parades and beauty contests. In general, these women are labeled mulata