Performance and Embodied Politics in Favela Funk
Chapter One: Femininities, Agency, and White Feminist Failures
“I’m not a feminist, and I don’t even have power to be that,” said Deize Tigrona, who is featured on the cover of this book, in reply to the “feminist question” at the height of the funkeira’s mainstream media popularity, in 2006.1 Deize’s answer illustrates what is at the core of this chapter, namely that: (1) the funkeira associated feminism with power—she was likely referring to class and racial power—and, consequently, (2) the perception that, as a poor Black woman, feminism was not for her. In a way, Deize was correct: much of the feminist theory and movements that had reached Brazil at the time of the interview, in 2006, either ignored favela funk in general and funkeiras in particular or vehemently criticized both.2 That was a symptom of the overreliance on white and middle-class feminist perspectives (many of which originated in the Global North) and their focus on “gender first” analyses, which then tended to generally understand femininity homogenously, as a de-racialized patriarchal device.3 Feminist theory and movements’ tendency to devaluate all femininity through the unexamined focus on its white, normative version, have positioned femininity in opposition to masculine agency. As a result, they have also disregarded agentic ←19 | 20→and transgressive potential of marginalized femininities for political change.
White feminist approaches to agency tend to take for granted ideas of liberal Western agency and its analytical dichotomy—subordination and resistance. Whether for praise or critique, this focus seems reliant on a concept of universal...
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