Brazilian Women Once Again Stereotyped in Italian Media

I had woken up in such a good mood this morning until I naively decided to read some good-old sensationalist Italian media. An article on the first page of the online version of the Corriere della Sera, Italy’s main newspaper, has decided to give overwhelming attention to the thoughtless and disrespectful decision of Nana Gouvêa, a Brazilian model, who went around New York City in the aftermath of Sandy posing next to debris and uprooted trees as if she were standing on a beach in Ipanema rather than on a hurricane torn city. Now, I’m not here to discuss about Nana Gouvêa’s stupidity, who for sure has to do some real soul-searching about her need for visibility. What I’m here to discuss is that I have never read one single article on the Italian media that does not play down the image of Brazilian women, often resorting to offensive stereotypes, which portray them as pretty but stupid. Think I’m exaggerating? Just check the archives of any of these online newspapers (Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, etc) and this is the image that will always emerge, when it isn’t much worse.

This article from the Corriere was the last drop for me. Having lived in Italy and knowing how these strong stereotypes can really affect the lives of Brazilian women who are bright and talented and yet have to live with the daily kind of phrases in Italy:

“Lei è brasiliana, ma è una brava brasiliana” (she’s Brazilian but she’s a smart/good Brazilian) as if the adjective “good” had to be used to explain a Brazilian being normal or;

“Non sembri brasiliana, sei così simpatica” (you don’t seem Brazilian, you are so nice) as if being Brazilian meant something wrong or bad.

So how can we help to break down these stereotypes and show an accurate picture of the Brazilian society with its good and bad examples that have nothing to do with the nationality per se but rather with individuals and their own personal choices? Simple, the power of citizen media is growing and it’s becoming a concrete voice of opposition against one-sided conventional media stories that prefer to build audience rather than inform responsibly their readers.

If you don’t believe in the stereotyping of any kind of nationality/gender then share this and add your own personal story, no matter where you are from.







2 thoughts on “Brazilian Women Once Again Stereotyped in Italian Media

  1. This is very interesting. I have a Brazilian friend who DETESTS Italy because of how she was treated there. I especially find it funny that the Italian media has a superior attitude towards ANYONE because of their own history and current status in the world. When I lived in and travelled around Europe, I found that, in many European countries – unless I was in a major city – there was a tendancy to exoticise/fetishise women of African decent. I was also surprised to see how openly racist people were in most of the places I visited! Most of the racism was directed toward Middle Easterners, and non-EU europeans.

    I think the Italian media has an inferiority complex and is looking for someone to kick. They see their society as cultured, passionate, full of great wine and music. These things are true. But they also have a strong history of mafia involvement(not just in Sicily), corruption, and overall lack of advancement. It is also interesting to note that the highest number of men in Fortaleza looking for child prostitutes (under the age of 15) are Italian.

    It is interesting to read about other groups of people being the targets for discrimination. I sometimes forget that it is not ONLY people of African descent.

    • Yes, unfortunately I think that Europe and in particular Southern Europe still has a lot of soul searching to do in this aspect. Multiculturalism is often frowned upon and arguments connected to XIX century social Darwinism can easily gain thrust through biased media coverages of the world and people’s own insularity. I think that Italy in particular is very backwards in this sense because the media only talks about Italy or when it covers issues concerning immigration it always paints immigrants in a negative light. Combine that with the country’s natural provincialism and you get a very grim picture. In all fairness though, most of the Italians living abroad that I have met have broken away from that mold and are the first to recognize their country’s problem. However, as you also have experienced having lived and traveled in Europe, the problem of discrimination against immigrants coming from the South of the world or stereotypes based on ethnic and racial features is everywhere even though some countries are certainly more politically correct and more inclusive (e.g. UK, Holland, Germany, etc).

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