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Bitches Unleashed

Performance and Embodied Politics in Favela Funk

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Raquel Moreira

This book challenges white and Western feminist approaches to embodied politics, or the use of the body in everyday enactments of resistance, while mapping transgressive performances of femininities by the funkeiras, marginalized women and transfeminine people of color artists in Brazilian favela funk. Often studied from a white feminist perspective, embodied politics reflects debates about agency and structural change that are generally applicable to white women in the West. Concurrently, studies of femininity tend to universalize experiences of gender oppression encountered by white women to women across the globe. In this work, the author offers a transnational perspective on the performative force of embodied politics as a possible means to disrupt white, classist heteropatriarchal structures that oppress particularly poor women and transfeminine people of color in Brazil. This project has a threefold goal: first, it challenges the theoretical shortcomings of white feminist approaches to embodied politics, providing instead a transfeminista take on the concept. Secondly, this project aims to shed light on how traditional methodological approaches have hindered nuanced understandings of women and people of color and their performances. Third and finally, by challenging and re-envisioning the potential of embodied politics from a transnational perspective, the text intends to contribute to the field of critical intercultural communication’s growing but still limited research around bodies and performance, especially of those who are marginalized in global contexts.
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Introducing Bitches Unleashed

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In the music video for Linn da Quebrada’s “Coytada” (“Poor Girl”),1 she chops up dildos of different shades on a cutting board. The video mimics a cooking show in which Linn and fellow Black travestis Jup do Bairro and Slim Soledad sensually and frantically play with baking ingredients: swallowing and spitting back out eggs, blowing flour on each other, pouring milk in their own mouths, and using rolling pins on dildos. The lyrics suggest that Linn would rather have sex with the devil than with someone who only likes “gym rats” and “bulls” (muscular men) because, according to her, “I’m very effeminate.”2 Linn da Quebrada illustrates well why I have been obstinate in my interest in favela funk as a research topic for the last 10 years. When I first started to notice the movement for the purpose of studying it, a performance like hers—even her popularity—would have been unthinkable. This book is a result of my journey after a decade of dedication to, first, women in favela funk and, now, to all who perform femininities within the movement. They are known as the funkeiras.

Rio de Janeiro’s favela funk is a musical genre and cultural movement developed by poor folks of color in the 1980s. The characteristic ←1 | 2→beats, lyrics, dance moves, and clothing suggest a “social practice that is historically situated:”3 favela funk is the product of the continuous unequal and violent conditions poor people of color face inside Rio’s...

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