Let’s dispense with the myth that Brazilian culture is “more” sexual than others.
Obviously much of the world comes to this idea from seeing Carnaval, Brazil’s annual pre-Lent bacchanalia. But that’s like judging a tank to be leaky at the moment its pressure valve is wide open. Brazil is a Catholic (and increasingly Protestant) country1 with reserved, sex-negative, heteronormative, and sexist attitudes that get — somewhat — set aside at just the moment when the world is flitting its gaze over Rio.
Even foreigners who visit Brazil at other times of the year can get a confused idea of Brazilian sexuality when they see Brazilians kissing strangers in nightclubs. As I mentioned in this video, foreigners see Brazilian kissing culture (mouths wide open, relatively quick approaches, aggressivity from men) and assume that everyone is fucking everyone — they’re not. There’s simply a different attitude toward kissing — it’s just a part of flirting, an often-practiced way of testing the waters. In other cultures, flirting may include more dancing, touching, dropping hints that you own cows or gas stations, etc. In none of them should it be assumed that flirting always, or even usually, leads to sex.
“Brazil is a country of contradictions, as much in relation to sexuality as anything else,” said American anthropologist Richard Parker,2 who wrote a book on the subject. “There is a certain spirit of transgression in daily life, but there is also a lot of moralism.”
If this blog has done nothing else, I hope it’s helped show that cultures everywhere in the world have their own brazen, weird, adorable displays of sexuality. Like modern3 peoples everywhere, Brazil is sexual — and repressed — in its own lovely way.
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