International Events: “Soccer, Sex and Scandal in Brazil”
“Soccer, Sex and Scandal in Brazil” was a lecture given by anthropologist and author Don Kulick on Tuesday, November 17. It detailed the scandal of the famous soccer star Ronaldo and his adventurous night with three “travesties”, which Kulick described as men who decide that they want to dress like women and get plastic surgery to look like women, however they have no desire to remove their penis, nor do they identify as females, such as transgenders in the United States.
The scandal around Ronaldo developed not because he hired prostitutes, but because the prostitutes, including Andrea Albertino, were travesties. Andrea leaked the situation to the press, causing the scandal. I thought it was interesting how Kulick described the concept of sexuality in Brazil, especially for men, how a general line of thought is that as long as man is acting as the “penetrator”, and doesn’t get penetrated, he is still “straight”, even if he is having sex with a man. However, there is also a question brought up, that if a man wanted a woman, and not a man dressed as a woman, then why hire a travestie? This is why Ronaldo fell under so much scrutiny, as the Brazilian public questioned his sexuality, and in turn his manhood.
The idea of “I’m not gay unless I am penetrated” seems strange to me, as an American, where the societal view on sexuality is that performing intercourse with one of the same sex constitutes the sexuality of the act. In Brazil, however, there are very blurred lines between all of this. Travesties are known as beautiful, and some of them have become famous and are very well known in Brazil. Ronaldo claimed that he didn’t know the prostitutes were travesties, however Kulick explained that not only do travesties advertise in districts, they are also very recognizable by Brazilian natives by the way they dress and act. This whole lecture has made me think of the different ways that sexuality is viewed around the world. It seems odd to me that it was not the act of hiring prostitutes which gave Ronaldo a bad rep, but rather the fact that he might be gay when so many men look up to him.
In the future I hope to attend more lectures such as this one. I like hearing experts in their field give lessons over issues around the world, as it is both hard to come by someone so specialized, and I find that these lectures often highlight things that I didn’t realize were issues.