Maverick Traveler

Location Independence, Geo Arbitrage, Individual Freedom

Why Brazil Will Not Be Westernized Anytime Soon

“James, Brazilian women are quickly becoming Americanized.”

“James, I’ve seen cuter Brazilian women in 15 minutes in New York than during my two-week vacation in Rio de Janeiro.”

“James, the bottom line is that Brazil is no longer a good destination for men.”

About two or three years after I left the promised land called Brazil, I began hearing negative “reports” about the country. At first, these rumors slowly trickled in, but, over time, like an avalanche gathering speed, they became more and more common. Things became so bad that even several of my long-term readers—who’ve never even stepped foot in Latin America—started telling me how Brazil has “changed.” Expectedly, they’re blaming this on Westernization.

A few men who have visited Brazil have reported that the women have lost their quintessential “Brazilian flair” and now closely resemble their American counterparts. They further justify these claims by saying that most Brazilian women now carry newest cell phones like iPhone 6 and prefer to exclusively text with their friends instead of making sexual eye contact with strangers.

As someone who knows Brazil pretty well, I view these “reports” with plenty of skepticism. While I haven’t returned to the promised land in few years, I have continued to travel around the world and carefully observe how different countries are developing. That’s pretty much what I do for a living: give you a “boots on the ground” perspective about different countries and cultures.

I recently returned to Mexico, a country where I lived for over year. I spent several years living in Lithuania, a former Soviet Union republic that was admitted to European Union in 2004. I went to Russia last year. I’ve been to Ukraine many times. I also keep in touch with expats from all over the world (one of the perks of running a popular travel blog).

Don’t get me wrong: Westernization is real. The world is indeed becoming smaller. Countries are changing in a multitude of ways. More and more people are speaking the world’s lingua franca, English.

But it’s not happening evenly across the board. Some countries have become little Americas (i.e., England and Denmark), other countries are slowly getting there, while many more countries are embracing Western values without giving up their indigenous cultures.

One country that’s at risk of being completely Westernized is Lithuania. Lithuania has all the characteristics of a perfect candidate to be swallowed by Westernization: it’s small, Northern European, has low levels of corruption, and its citizens can freely live and work anywhere in Europe.

Lessons from Eastern Europe

Lithuania could’ve changed dramatically after its admission to EU, but I can tell you that it still boasts a very traditional culture and plenty of beautiful and feminine women. My girlfriend of several years was one of the most feminine women I’ve ever met in my life. And I don’t see her suddenly morphing into some man-hating feminist anytime soon. She’s also not some anomaly because I’ve met plenty of women like her all over Lithuania.

Another country that’s a very interesting case is my former homeland of Ukraine. I seem to be addicted to Ukraine because I keep coming back any chance I get. I’ve now been to Ukraine four times in four years. Right now, I’m writing this article from my rented apartment in the capital, Kiev.

The women are some of the most feminine in the world. The girl that I’m seeing now is extremely feminine—as feminine as they come. A couple of other women that I’ve dated previously were also very feminine.

Of course, I can go dig up some “statistics” or make some stories that the women have somehow changed because of the Maidan revolution (or some other event), but I’m not going to create a point of view that reflects non-existent reality. I know what femininity is, and I can’t imagine how the women I’ve been meeting here can be even more feminine. It’s just not possible. 

For a country that’s ripe for Westernization, Ukraine hasn’t really changed in noticeable ways. Going out in the beautiful city of Kiev with the super feminine women, I’ve never felt once that I was back in the American bars in New York or San Francisco. Although, I won’t deny that it can easily become a different country in 5 or 10 years.

The Brazilian way

This brings me back to Brazil, a country where I spent a bit more than two years of my life—a country, where, in many ways, I learned what real masculinity is all about. A country that changed my notion of what’s “normal” and “fucked up” (hint: Brazil is normal, America isn’t).

Although I ended up leaving Brazil, I still maintain contacts with a good number of people there. Many of these are women that I’ve been fortunate to get to know during my stay. They still look amazing. They’re still as sexy and feminine as ever. Saying that they’ve become Americanized in just several years doesn’t reflect reality. The fact that they use iPhones like the rest of the world hasn’t changed their sensuality in any way.

I also have many male friends that stayed behind. Most of them have now been living there for over 5 years (some have been living there for 10 years). The fact that they’re still there really says it all; if Brazil was indeed “Americanized,” as some people are claiming, I’m sure all these expats would’ve been on the first flight to some other country.

Brazil is one of the largest and culturally richest countries in the world. Everyone knows where Brazil is. Everyone—from Americans and Italians to Russians and Japanese to Nigerians and Indonesians—have, at the minimum, a certain understanding of the country. Of course, these are mostly stereotypes (Russians and Ukrainians think Brazil is a tropical country full of monkeys), but the fact is that everyone knows something about this magnificent country demonstrates its cultural might.

Brazilians are very proud of their country. When I lived in Brazil, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard locals boast that their country is the best in the world. While to a foreigner that quickly gets old and tiring (it did to me), it demonstrates that people aren’t looking outward to another country or culture for inspiration. Brazilians love Brazil and aren’t trying to become Americans or anyone else. Nationalism and pride run extremely strong in Brazil.

While Brazil is geographically located in Latin America, it’s so radically different from its neighbors that I easily considered it as a country that’s located on it’s own planet in some alternate universe. It’s certainly much more exciting and interesting than Chile, one of the most advanced and Westernized economies on the continent, but also one that’s home to relatively few Western expats as compared to Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and even Peru.

How Westernization affects countries

The common consensus is that Westernization is some unstoppable force that’s taking over the world, pillaging traditional cultures by converting them into mindless masses of consumers. While that may have some truth to it, there’s definitely much more than meets the eye.

Westernization is a complicated phenomenon. At the core it’s simply a set of ideals and values that are battling against another set of ideals and values. And for it to conquer the ideals of another country and its indigenous culture, the latter needs to be weaker and less resilient.

But here’s the thing that most people don’t realize: for Westernization to take hold, not only does the target country need to be weaker and less resilient, it also must want to adopt a new culture. It must yearn for change.

A poor ex-Communist country like Lithuania (joined EU) and Ukraine (Maidan revolution) has its reasons for looking to the West; they’ve suffered enough under Soviet rule. But a country like Brazil with one of the most amazing and well-known cultures in the world doesn’t really need the West. In fact, it’s a country that’s exporting its own beautiful culture to the West (I’m sure most of you probably heard of a city called Rio de Janeiro, a dance called Samba, eaten a churrasco and maybe even listened to Bossa Nova)

In this case, a traditional country can have its cake and eat it too. It can embrace Western values such as technology and efficiency, but still continue to party with cheap $1 Skol Beer and caipirinhas in Rio de Janeiro’s Lapa neighborhood every Friday. It can import Western gadgets like iPhones but use them as another medium of communication for sexy and melodic Brazilian Portuguese.

Rumors and reality

During my first few months in Brazil, I was living in Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana neighborhood. At that time I was visiting a particular expat forum. One of the guys there was also living in Copacabana, about three or four blocks away from me.

His experience in Rio was very different from mine. According to him, he was robbed no less than three times in a span of three weeks. After that he vowed to never leave his house without a waiting taxi downstairs.

As I was reading all this, I actually felt like he was living on some alternative universe. I personally walked that street two or three times per day (it was on my way to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training). I walked both during the day and at night. Nothing bad ever happened to me. And I’m a fair skinned dude who doesn’t really look Brazilian.

That’s the problem with rumors: the bad news always spreads much faster than good news or even the lack of any news. Telling someone that Brazil has suddenly been “Americanized” is like telling someone that they’ll get mugged in Copacabana three times in three weeks. An isolated incident never presents the whole picture.

As expected, these rumors always generate more attention and interest than telling someone that Brazil is still a great destination for men—and will continue to be that way in the foreseeable future.

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37 Comments

  1. Yeah, I feel skeptical about these comments of how everywhere is getting worse. There’s something called “golden era fallacy” that you can look up. It’s a common theme. The talk about how “girls are getting worse everywhere” is just another incarnation of golden era fallacy. Not much different from your grandfather going on and on about “the good ol’ days” and that things aren’t like they used to be. All cultures are constantly evolving. No place will remain the same forever. You have to learn to adapt.

    Maybe one area that these people are correct is that the world is becoming a smaller place with airfare being so cheap these days. You can now get flights to Iceland from the USA for $99. I’ll sometimes see flights on American Airlines from Miami to Rio round-trip for around $400. So more tourism means less exotic value. I think some guys long for those days where the iron curtain had barely fallen and any man from a Western country could go to Prague or Ukraine and feel like they own the place. That could only go on for so long though.

    • Great point on the golden era theme. I see this all the time. I may have to write more about it.

      ” I’ll sometimes see flights on American Airlines from Miami to Rio round-trip for around $400.”

      That’s pretty damn good.

    • I live in the northeast of Brazil for my job at the moment. I’ve been there for three years.

      It is amazing for women, especially as an American. In order for westernization to occur completely in Brazil I think that the economic situation for Brazilians and public services have to improve exponentially. The northeast is the poorest region of the country, so in a way there are still a lot of traditional values. You often see couples of beautiful women/average/chump men, the kind of thing you wouldn’t see here. I think it’s due to the fact that day to day life is quite difficult there, and there still is some traditionalism yet as industrializations still quite new to the region.

      Anyway just my thought. I’ve been home for the holidays and the USA is a bitch compared to Brazil.

  2. Question to Brazilians:
    I’ve met many Brazilian girls and they’re beautiful and friendly BUT they seem bossy. Anyways, I have a Brazilian friend who hates them and says that supposedly, alimony/divorce laws in Brazil are au pair with American/English speaking alimony/divorce laws, meaning that if you divorce as a man you get fucked up real bad. Is this true?

    I had the concept that your laws were similar to Mexico, in Mexico we’re forced to pay child support but according to one’s salary and alimony is rarely paid or is more like a symbolic low amount for a few years and if you don’t pay, the authorities don’t really hunt you down like they do in the USA. In other words, marriage is pretty safe still.

  3. Great piece, Mav. I’m with you here, I think the whole doomsday scenario that a lot of guys are portraying is overblown.

    I can’t imagine how Brazil can change for the worst—being Brazil, after all!

  4. Very provoking post.

    I’ve actually been thinking about a similar thing lately myself. Last time I was in Brazil was 2005. I’m thinking it changed, but I doubt it changed all that much.

  5. Solid post, James.

    I fully agree with you here. I think there’s lots of stupid rumors and hate, and, like you say, doesn’t really reflect reality.

    One of my bro’s went to Brazil recently and he absolutely loved. I’m saving up pennies to go there soon!

  6. I was last in Brazil in 2012. Prior to that I lived there off and on for abour 2 years around 2008. And before that I visited many times. I also know a few Brazilian girls and guys I keep in touch with and have been able to watch them grow. For me the biggest change in Brazil is that they are becoming more and more materialistic. In 2012 I was already encountering rude Brazilian girls and this was very rare in 2008. I have also met quite few Brazilian girls traveling around Europe and they continue to get more full of themselves. They are definitely developing what I would term a Russian attitude. Now, if you to smaller cities in Brazil the girls will get better just like everywhere else. But the whole world is becoming Americanized. It’s just a matter of how quickly this is happening. I would say Western Europe has about five more decent years. Eastern Europe and South America 10. But there will always be some decent girls everywhere you go. I even find some right here in the US.

  7. As a Brazilian I can say this “Westernized” talk is bullshit.
    I lived in Brazil for 27 years before I decided to leave everything behind to travel the world. I’ve been living in New Zealand and Australia for almost two years now.
    Girls in Brazil are, in general, extremely friendly and sensual but some of them like to play games or are just interested on your money.
    If you go to a fancy club in Rio, for example, you find “westernized” girls like anywhere else, yes, but try talking to a girl on streets or in a houseparty at your friend’s place. You’ll get surprised with your findings!
    I’ve had my share of good trips around South America and I can say that South American girls have the same behavior everywhere: sensuality, flirting and they even take the first step sometimes.
    I love blonde/ginger girls and Australia and New Zealand are packed with them but I hate their way of doing things on this part of the planet. It’s all too cold, no emotion, you can never know when the girl is into you or not. I really miss the Latin heat from my homecountry!
    With that said, don’t belive in those “Americanized” talks about Brazil. It does happen to a few girls but most of them haven’t changed at all.
    Now, having a Brazilian girlfriend can be tough, but that’s something for another topic…

  8. Feminism is a luxury good; every country has as much feminism as it can afford (or in Eastern Europe, as much feminism as the EU is willing to pay for). In every country wealthy enough for women not to need men, men don’t need them either, because they can afford airline tickets to a less feminist country. The shittier the economy, the nicer the women!

  9. I dated Brasilian women in the 90s when I lived in Astoria in NYC. They never seemed bossy to me and at dinner parties, interested women had no problem flirting or making their desires known, even if I was there with my girlfriend. I’ve dated women from Rio and Bel Horizonte. They had friends from Sao Paulo. The women from SP seemed more straight-laced and less flirtatious, though that’s probably an unsound generalization.

    As recently as 2013, a Brasilian doctor friend of mine from SP was visiting NYC for a month. We hung out a few nights, had dinner at a few of my favorite Manhattan Thai restaurants, then wound up on the couch of her hotel watching the Spurs-Heat NBA Finals game 6. One thing led to another and I unexpectedly wound up spending the night in her hotel room. This is the magic of Brasilian women — they flirt in a very feminine way and don’t come off as complete slut bags the way American women do.

    All in all, my experiences with Brasilian women over the years has been nothing but positive.

  10. I don’t know if its getting better or worse since I don’t know what it was like 10 years ago. I can only tell about my personal experience. I spent 1 month in Brazil last year just before carnival and 3 months working and living in Sao Paulo this year, September to December. I can tell you that I have never seen so few cute girls in my life in such a big city. They don’t have pretty faces, many are overweight, obviously don’t take care of their bodies. Man, many Brazilian girls have hair on their legs. brr, disgusting. I have seen more hairy legs in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. I thought “Brazilian wax” comes from Brazil but obviously many of them have never heard of it. The attitudes are bitchy. Girls are extremely flaky and unreliable, probably more than Medellin where I lived for 6 months ( and it says a lot, believe me). There are hot girls like everywhere but sometimes I could be out on the streets and the metro all day and see one cute girl in 6 hours. One, damn it! I can see hot girls every 5 mins in Medellin where I am now or in Bogota. Brazil is expensive, probably twice the cost of Colombia. Overall, there are some good things, like the food or the infrastructure is way more developed than most of south America. But let me tell you, girls are not hot in Brazil, at least in Sao Paulo, Curitiba or Belo Horizonte, cities where I spent 3 days or more. Rio migth be a little better but not much. Don’t come to Brazil for girls. just my opinion.

    • That’s an interesting perspective. I was told my guys who’ve visited Brasil that many of the women are hot. Some even visit each year. I guess I’ll have to go and see for myself. I heard Rio is like Miami.

  11. When is your new book coming out ?

  12. I’ve spend one year in Brazil in 2014. It was the year of the world cup so the best time to see how proud of their country brazilians are.
    At first you feel like brazilians are the most proud people on the planet but talking to them and digging deeper I realized it is just a facade and it really stems from insecurity.
    If I can make a comparison, I would say that Brazil is a really hot girl with low self-esteem.
    When you are a westerner, you see this hot girl and you are blown away by her beauty, sensuality and friendliness.
    But all she thinks about herself is corruption, violence and there is no hope for her.
    So she looks up to America, the bad boy dressed as a good man, who is going to reassure her fragile ego but will have no mercy ravage her and leave her senseless after he is done with her.
    It has already started and it is a shame as Brazil has this refreshing vibe and energy like nowhere else in the world.

    • What I would like to see is how this plays out by region. You have a lot of variance in Brazil as it is a huge country. We tend to speak of Brazil as a monolith. But are these changes effecting goucho girls in the countryside the way they are swaggering Paulistas?

    • Where does the line between being proud and insecure?

      Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two.

  13. This a great piece. I’ve been to Brazil 3 times: ’10, ’12 and ’14. Apart from people having cell phones (like anywhere in the world), I don’t feel Brazil has changed at all.

    It’s still Brazil!

    I’ll be going back for six months in 2016.

    If anyone wants to meet up in Rio, hit me up.

  14. Mav, do you know that you’re now my favorite travel/masculinity blogger?

    I fucking love your writing style. Very forceful but without being overbearing.

    BTW, I’m going to Brazil next month. I’ll let you what I think!

  15. Another solid post.

  16. I am really surprised no one mentioned the World Cup 2014 yet, as it is the first thing when I hear the word Brazil comes to my mind. But anyways here I go … I have never been to Brazil but I will definetly go there, and here is the truth why.

    I have some really good experience with Brazil in the summer of 2014 when we beat Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup Semifinals on their own Turf:) Brazil is the number one Football Nation in history, so beating them 7-1 is something we are unbelievable proud of. Man I still get the chicken Skin when I think about this. All the hot Brazilian female Football fans crying in the Stadium live on TV, because we beat their Team 7-1. Back to the topic Brazil is a great Country, good Food sunny weather beautiful ladies friendly People. But I heard it is not really safe for travellers, would it be dangerous wearing a German Football Jersey ? Or will being German help me getting laid ? It is a serious Question, maybe some of the Readers can answer 🙂

  17. If you hear rumors from one or more people, then confirm those rumors with other different people.

    You would be a fool to listen to someone talking bad about a country he or she has never been.

    I truly think that there are more ignorant people (especially in the U.S.) who would lie about a country (e.g. Brazil) being dangerous but hide the ugly truth where they live.

    If you keep listening to people who do not know what they are really saying, you won’t be going anywhere including a local store. You might stay in your house being scared, trapped, and miserable for the rest of your life.

  18. Hi Maverick,

    I have been reading your blog recently and i noticed you talk about how feminine women in other countries outside the west are. As an American woman, i can see what you mean. Although i would like to point out(maybe you have already addressed this) that American men in general seem to prefer women who are a “t-shirt and jeans” kind of girl. The casual girl who will watch sports and pretend they know what’s going on while drinking a beer. I feel like these are things that they should want to do with their male friends. Just in my experience, this is what i have heard from American men…Any thoughts?

  19. >The common consensus is that Westernization is some unstoppable force that’s taking over the world, pillaging traditional cultures by converting them into mindless masses of consumers.

    Oh for fuck’s sake, get out of your cultural cocoon already.
    “common consensus”
    “unstoppable force”
    “taking over the world”
    Common consensus in a tiny rich Western upper-class circlejerk on the web?
    Yeah, that’s an extremely important consensus for sure. Haha.

    Europeans can expect to see Russian tanks rolling in a short while (nothing personal, just life, economy etc.), and then they’ll be able to appreciate just how “Westernized” the bulk of us really is. I bet that stupid talk would cease then, and you’ll start talking about how the world lacks Western values. Or any respect for them. Or knowledge thereof.

    Then you’ll probably collectively bemoan how you failed your own creation (“the world”, that is) and it is now getting back at you. Oh my god, cultural arrogance is the ultimate form of blindness. The more satisfying it is when it’s crushed.

  20. I’m a Brazilian from Espírito Santo, and I urge everyone that I can: do not go to rio. I went many times in my life, and never saw a situation like this before. You are going to be robbed, and not just one time, but probably many.
    The advice was given.

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