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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 Four: Negotiated Femininities: Relationships with Men and Other Funkeiras


The opening shots for Pocah’s 2019 “Pode Chorar” (“You Can Cry”) shows the funkeira out of focus, walking into a room with a picture frame under her right arm.1 Her long dark brown hair is down, and she wears a green animal-print top, a green pencil skirt adorned with golden chains, and golden hoops in her ears. Pocah comes into focus when she places the picture on the wall, next to others. Later in the music video, it is revealed that the frames display photos of men who were Pocah’s former lovers/partners. The funkeira’s voice precedes the 150 BPM beat with the following lyrics: “Today I’m going to party/I’m going to wear everything that he hates/today I’ll free myself/he can beg/but it’s going to be much worse/I’m going to learn how to live on my own.” Pocah utter these words while sitting on a chair, legs crossed, using her arms to caress her chest, hips, and tights. “Pode Chorar” is one example of many in which funkeiras show derision toward cismen.

After exploring the multiple forms in which funkeiras think about and perform racialized femininities, I now concentrate on how funkeiras navigate relationships with other women (trans and otherwise) and cismen in their performances. An important part of funkeiras’ ←97 | 98→transgressive embodiments of femininities stem from the ambiguous manners in which they enact these relationships, including the various roles they play in this process. Previous research has suggested that funkeiras’ songs relate to men and other women...

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