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Bitches Unleashed

Performance and Embodied Politics in Favela Funk


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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Chapter Two: “I Don’t Depend on Men for Shit!”: Favela Funk as Industry and Funkeiras’ Autonomy


Maysa Abusada walks on stage and immediately turns her back to the audience in a July 2013 live performance. The stage lighting accentuates her curvy, muscular brown body. She slowly shakes her hips and butt back and forth, throwing her hair sideways, while her two female dancers, one on each side of the stage, also dance with their backs to the audience and vibrate their hips frantically. Maysa wears a small black outfit that resembles a bikini with shiny golden details in the front that exposes her light brown skin. The fringes along her bust and waistline riot with her movement. After one minute or so, she turns to the audience and asks “where are the independent women here tonight?” Running her fingers through her long hair extensions, she continues, “that woman who doesn’t depend on men for anything, who doesn’t need a man to pay for our hair, who doesn’t depend on men to get our nails done …” She finally proclaims: “Those independent women who proudly say: I don’t depend on man for shit!”

In a December 2014 story in the now-deceased celebrity website Ego, Maysa Abusada tells the reporter that she is scheduled to remove her buttock silicone implants in January of the following year.1 The funkeira ←47 | 48→provides troublesome details of the day-to-day struggles her implants have been impinging on her, including the inability to sit for more than 10 minutes and cutting the length of her shows in half. What is truly striking...

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