“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.