The Inner Circle - Capoeira and Sexual Assault -- Part 2: The House We Built, or, Behavior's a Bitch

Capoeira and Sexual Assault -- Part 2: The House We Built, or, Behavior's a Bitch

A few things before we begin.  First, this is not one for underage readers.  There’s going to be a lot of talk about sex, sexual assault, and rape.  Second, I’ve reduced things down to just heterosexual men and women.  I largely ignored sexual assault and rape within/against gay, trans, agender, and genderqueer folks because I have no personal experience, knowledge, or data in that area, and don’t want to pretend I can represent those issues.  Third, obviously all this stuff is complicated and, being human, I’m biased.  

Part 1 deals with how power structures and hierarchy worsen sexual assault.  Part 2 is all-male, all the time.  Machismo, masculinity, with attempts to offer some solutions.

Here we go with Part 2.

Robert and Ted, or, The Devil Inside Us

One of my very favorite authors, Robert Sapolsky, published a book back in 1998 called The Trouble with Testosterone: And Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament.  Sapolsky is one of those sickeningly gifted humans who’s untouched by gravity no matter where they walk---in his case, primatology, neuroendocrinology, and writing.  As an unmotivated college student afflicted by a self-indulgent melancholy, Sapolsky was confirmation to me that science and art could coexist happily in one person. He was my Carl Sagan, just with baboons, not stars.  In some small, ephemeral way, reading about his struggles with the human condition helped convince me life was both merely biology and somehow beyond it.

Sapolsky has a knack for answering the questions that rumble under the conscious, waking mind, threatening storms and causing trouble.  At the time, identity was a thorny problem for me. Am I me? Or am I just the sum of my family, my friends, my environment? Is there even a distinction there?  (I assume most adolescents go through some form of this).

In the essay Beelzebub’s SAT Scores he grapples with the fascination his professional community----Berkeley intelligentsia---developed for Ted Kaczynski.  A prodigy with a PhD in mathematics by 25, the Unabomber’s early life mirrored their own. A devil born from the same mother.  They saw a little glimmer of themselves in Kaczynski’s hyperliterate, aloof, maladjusted, meticulous brain. Students and faculty alike showed their unease in “offhand, self-conscious quips,” joking about the Shakespearean library he’d assembled in his cabin alongside bomb manuals.  The most repulsive---and intriguing---facet of Ted was the reluctant admittance that, somewhere in the dark, unbounded, feral part of themselves, they too had unleashed hell on colleagues, friends, strangers. But not as some mad-slasher fantasy, rather “we all have our little lists of enemies to be vanquished with the force of our minds, in clever, cerebral, elegant bits of mayhem.  And then Kaczynski goes and does something with some queasy, identificative elements of exactly that.” The liberal, educated elite were forced to reckon with the fact that a doctorate doesn’t automatically convey morality. They all felt the deeply disquieting sense of There for the Grace of God Go I. “Its equivalence is one that haunts me---the certainty that there was at least one murderous Nazi who, at the end of a difficult day, could sit and be moved to tears by the same instant of Beethoven that undoes me,” Sapolsky writes.

Or, more plainly, people are complicated.  We’re not uniform, even from day to day and person to person.  What we call identity is not only inherent, hardwired traits but also the collage of effects we absorb from the people and places around us.  Doing angelic things does not preclude doing bad ones. I know that’s cliché, but its banality doesn’t detract from its importance, or its sneakiness.  It’s an easy thing to say, and just as easy to forget.

Certain systems lend themselves to certain behaviors.  We’d all behave a little differently in a monastery versus a dance party.  Each place has a distinctive feel. People pick up these atmospheres with little social barometers and adjust accordingly.  We’re all capable of all kinds of behaviors, as the situation merits.

Capoeira, it’s been said, is the perennial social mixing bowl.  The reason capoeira sits so uneasily under the label “martial art” is that it wasn’t designed for typical, physical self-defense.  It was a tool for cultural and social preservation; a failsafe against Africans’ loss of identity in the New World (wanna argue this?  I’d be delighted, come at me).  You can’t have capoeira without community.  Taken out of context, it makes no sense.

And given its ubersociality, capoeira exerts a lot of pull on behavior.  For myself and most of the instructors I know, it’s been the central, massive object in our personal solar systems.  Unfortunately, its hierarchy, power structure, and inflexible view of masculinity come together to make a system conducive to sexual assault.  In short, capoeira in many ways encourages the worst in men, who then harass, assault, and rape women.

Cord = Character, or, We Judge What We Don’t Know

This is an inherently hierarchical sport (see Part 1 for oh so much more). As much as we like to pretend rank doesn’t matter, that we judge mestres and alunos against the same criteria, it’s obvious that we do in fact confuse personal worth with cord color.  Different groups are guilty of this in varying degrees, but on the whole I have yet to see true egalitarianism.  Which is not always a bad thing. There’s an argument to be made for treating more experienced people as more important.  Weightier. After all, they must’ve acquired at least some knowledge worth hearing if they’ve been around for decades.  But we error when we extend the respect we have for a cord to the rest of a person’s life.  This is an easy mistake, and one I make all the time. I think it’s human nature to take someone’s behavior in one small, limited environment as representative of their entire personality.  We see a competent, charismatic, funny instructor and take them to be competent, charismatic, and funny elsewhere too. For instance, standing in line at the bank. Or in a sexual encounter.

I realize the logical extension of this argument is, “Well then you can’t every really know anyone.”  But there’s a subtler point here worth unpacking. You can’t accurately predict your friends’ behavior in a certain situation if you’ve never before seen them in that situation.  Setting matters.  An instructor in front of a class is in a professional setting with some strict behavioral expectations.  An instructor at an after-party with alcohol and pretty women is in a completely different setting with different standards for behavior.

To me, this is a depressing conclusion.  Staying true to it means accepting that my own judgement isn’t well-rounded, even on some of the people I think know well.  I have friends in capoeira who I’ve known for more than decade, who I’m certain would let me sleep on their couch if I showed up on their doorstep unannounced, would recommend me for a job if I asked them.  But I don’t in fact have a comprehensive picture of their lives. What are they like at work? Are they fair-minded bosses, diligent employees? How do they behave in an argument? Do they say cruel or contemptuous things to their spouse when they’re upset?  And, of course, how do they conduct themselves in a sexual encounter? Beats me. All I know is that they’re nice to me at batizados.

But even though I only get a tiny glimpse of this complicated, multi-faceted, mutable organism I call my friend, I believe I know them very well, setting be damned.  Like the blind men feeling an elephant, I get only a leg and mistake it for the whole animal.

We all do this.  It’s the nature of social interaction.  But it’s, at heart, fallacious reasoning.  We forget that kind people can be cruel. An upstanding guy with a solid marriage can still philander.  Creepy men aren’t necessarily creepy all the time, and charm doesn’t cancel out creepiness. In fact, if you think about it, being charming and charasmatic might allow a man to be more successful at sexually assaulting women and keeping it quiet.  So the well-behaved among us men are the least qualified to search out creeps, precisely because we only see the charm.  A knowledgeable, engaging teacher can still be a bully when no one’s watching. These are not mutually exclusive qualities.

Toxic Masculinity, or, You Can Be Any Kind of Man so Long as You’re a Manly One

Capoeira reinforces a certain type of rigid masculinity.  The roda abides by detente---we enter this demarcated space, sabers rattling but still sheathed.  Posturing our way through a mock battle. Whether by overt physical dominance or sneakier, malicioso means, each person is seeking ways to one-up their partner.  And not only one-up them, but do it with style. Capoeira engenders display.   Playing capoeira is part combat, part kabuki. And this peacock-like behavior, this staged production, can augment a poisonous machismo.

Prowess is a defining feature of masculinity.  Being masculine means being skilled, confident, and self-assured.  The roda is the perfect place to show off these qualities. And the more the game heats up, the more masculine the display.  I know one mestre who, after catching someone, will volta ao mundo in a weird shimmy-step, shoulders rolling and neck bobbing---a rooster walk.  And as he struts around the circle, the crowd responds. You can see other guys imitate him, rooster-ing around, trying to invoke the same masculine energy that this tall, muscled, fast, confident, skilled man embodies.

Not only do we get explicit bragging, but capoeira rewards a multi-layered dialogue of machismo.  If the roda was just a fight---something more like MMA---masculinity would be defined by explicit dominance.  One person destroying another (a friend of mine has remarked that the UFC is essentially the male analogue of prostitution---making money by distilling maleness down to a simplified, sexualized simulacrum).  But since capoeira is a gray area, violence-wise, it offers a variety of ways for a man to demonstrate his savoir faire. This isn’t necessarily bad. We have a buffet of options to convey skill, and that leads to a diverse sport.  But it also creates a sort of machismo-multiplier. The more complicated the dialogue, the more male brinkmanship we get. Machismo displays get reinforced over and over until they’re absurdly exaggerated and there’s no room for playfulness, humor, or caring in the game.  

Not only does this uber-masculine nonsense play out in rough, pseudo-violent contests, it also drastically restricts the texture of the roda.  Men who aren’t interested in butting heads don’t feel comfortable playing. The more they drop out, the more the players get drawn solely from the rooster population.  

Women aren’t immune.  Games between women get hyped in uncomfortable, sexualized ways.  Roda só mulheres, that old standby, leaves almost a strip club scent in the air.  Men, in the guise of “allowing” the women to play, set the stage and then watch the performance.  Ditto with fights between women. Two women going at it isn’t received as a fight, more as a mud wrestling match.  Let’s not even mention the “bottle dance” that infiltrates samba de roda.

In sum, machismo reinforces itself and simultaneously shuts out other expressive qualities.  Both men and women get reduced to sexualized caricatures---men are praised for being bruisers and peacocks, while women are praised for being objects of desire.  Not a human being in sight.

Meanwhile, in the Real World, or, Back to the Kitchen with You

It would be naive to think this gendered reduction ends when the roda does.  Out of abadas, those roles persist.  The sexual script is already well-established in regular life: generally speaking, men are pursuers, women are gatekeepers.  One article sums it up as, “Boys learn at young age, from pop culture, their elders, and their peers, that it’s normal to have to convince a woman to have sex, and that repeated small violations of her boundaries are an acceptable way to do so---perhaps even the only way.”  Affirmative-consent-strides-lately-made notwithstanding, it’s still accepted that men should be pushy, even forceful. Women have been gaining agency in the sexual conversation, but the disparity in power between men and women still leaves the girls at a disadvantage when it comes to making a free, unforced decision whether to have sex or not.  Common sex ed books include cringers like “Girls need to be aware they may be able to tell when a kiss is leading to something else.  The girl may need to put the brakes on first in order to help the boy,” and “Men sexually are like microwaves and women sexually are like respond sexually by what they see and women respond sexually by what they hear and how they feel about it.”  Passing these stereotypes off as facts sets up the rules: men pursue mindlessly and women must resist.

Pushiness is so common that we often don’t recognize it.  Like the proverbial joke about fish not having a word for water, love stories often center on a man hammering away at a woman’s boundaries.  There’s a cornucopia of examples: Edward sneaking into Bella’s room to watch her sleep, and later disabling her car so she can’t leave the house; Lloyd iconically holding a boombox under Dianne’s window after they’ve broken up---then later, after she’s given in, he tells her it doesn’t matter whether he needs her specifically, or just needs some girl, any girl; Spike trying to rape Buffy early in the series only to become the love interest later; General Hospital’s Luke and Laura becoming the show’s “supercouple” even though, originally, Luke raped Laura---but no matter, she fell in love with him and thirty million people watched their wedding.  The stories we tell show just how ubiquitous the confusion is between “persistent boundary violation” and “romance”.

In all these stories, women are attachments to men.  The “he keeps trying until he gets it” plotline undercuts the autonomy the women should have.  Her decision to say no is vastly less important than his decision to persist. Always the supporter, never the star.  

This reinforces the main axiom of rape culture: that a woman’s worth is erotic first, all else second.  Conduits to sex, not thinking, feeling people. The uniquely cruel twist here is it legitimizes all the little trespasses men care to make.  A hand sliding down the back, a boob grab, a lewd come-on at work...hell, why not pull your penis out entirely? (Looking at you, Lauer!) It’s the perks of being male; party favors dished out when you have status and power.  As Rebecca Traister writes, “These are the terms on which we are valued...the men we tricked ourselves into thinking might see us as smart, formidable colleagues or rivals, not as the kinds of objects they can just grab and grope and degrade without consequence.  It’s not that we’re horrified like some Victorian damsel; we’re horrified like a woman in 2017 who briefly believed she was equal to her male peers...who has suddenly had her comparative powerless revealed to her.”

The Hall of Masculine Mirrors, or, Friends Don’t Let Friends Commit Rape

Capoeira is not an antidote to these real-life woes, it’s a magnifying glass.  The same men who rack up kudos for being fast and strong and belligerent in the roda often stay the course at the afterparty.  So many things about this system reward their military play-style, it makes sense to continue the campaign. Worse, there’s an implicit promise for instructors coming from out of town that part of the payment for your work is sex.  Teach a workshop, lead a roda, do your thing, and there will be women around. It’s not unusual at all, it’s as cliché as a berimbau tattoo.

And when the dander’s up, consent becomes the catchall.  Discussions about rape---particularly acquaintance rape----are too often overly simplified, i.e. yes means yes.  The magic word, the necessary and sufficient condition. But restricting your stance to just this datum means ignoring both the gendered power disparity (how free was she, really, to say no?) and the fact that what really matters is the recognition of consent.  Both parties have to accurately parse consent from each other.  Ideally, man and woman eye each other, chat it up, and progress from there with consent being given and understood correctly every step of the way.  But, as always, context matters.  A study done by Ashton Lofgreen out of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago examined how well men can differentiate between sexual interest and sexual consent.  A sample of guys were measured on how well they matched up with stuff like hypermasculinity, hostile sexism, and rape myths (agreeing with statements like “women generally find being physically forced into sex a real ‘turn-on’” or “when a woman says no, she means yes”).  Then they ran through different hypothetical sexual scenarios and asked the men to talk about how much sexual interest a woman was displaying, how she communicated that, and whether she was consenting to having sex. The scenarios ranged all over, from body language to talking to oral sex to in medias res.  Lofgreen reported that the mens’ understanding of interest and consent “weren’t particularly nuanced.  They [Interest and consent] were so correlated and impacted in such similar ways by variables of interest that they were virtually indistinguishable.”  

Consent is the public’s litmus test for determining rape.  We like to think we can determine whether a man raped a woman based on a single, objective criterium.  Like a soccer goal---here’s the line, was it crossed? And in some cases, it’s that easy. The rape was so blatant and horrific that it’s as ambiguous as knife in the belly.  But the conditions can get muddier. Everything’s in flux. From the perspective of the men in this study, consent’s in the eye of the beholder. Where the women lay down interest, the men picked up consent.   

When we think of “rapist,” we’re inclined to draw a scene out of the 1950s: a woman in a walking home alone late, a man emerges from the shadows, they struggle, she screams, exeunt.  It’s easier to slap a label like psychopath on these men because it distances them from us. We’re human beings, they’re reptilian stalkers. We’ve been slow to alter this picture to fit a much more insidious reality.  Most of the time, being a rapist is not some hardwired, identifiable trait like, say, being a redhead. “We tend to feel more comfortable characterizing rapists as social deviants lurking in dark alleys...however, our findings demonstrated that men’s perceptions of consent varied more as a function of situational factors rather than as a function of stable personality traits like antisociality or empathy.”  In other words, he’s not waiting in the alley, he’s sitting next to you on the couch, smiling. Nice guys rape women, too.

Piggybacking on that, another study set out to find what kinds of circumstances lead some men to commit acquaintance rape repeatedly.  Pulling from 183 men who’d all self-reported at least one act of sexual aggression in the past year, the authors reported that “rape supportive attitudes, expectations for having sex, misperceptions of sexual intent, victim’s alcohol consumption, attempts to be alone with her, and a number of consensual sexual activities prior to the unwanted sex were significant predictors of perpetrators’ post-assault use of justifications.”  This was especially important because “greater use of justifications was a significant predictor of sexual aggression over a 1-year follow-up interval.”

Just these two studies does not a conclusion make, but even they give us a blueprint of what kind of machine permits sexual violence.  It’s marked by men with rape-supportive attitudes, expectations for sex, and a boiling machismo, sniffing around among alcohol and women who’re maybe making eyes.  Which can lead to “misperceptions of sexual intent,” which leads to mistaking interest for consent, which leads to unwanted sex. Then these men justify their actions to themselves, and so it goes.  The machine turns. Sounds like a capoeira event to me.

Dealing with It, or, The First Rule of Fight Club is You Talk About Fight Club

My group has something called the Leadership Program that students can apply for after a few months of training.  It’s martial arts 101---offer something that gives extra benefits and a little status bump. Part of Leadership is a curriculum of monthly lessons, discussions of stuff like “Discipline,” “Goal Setting,” and “Financial Responsibility.”  Maybe one of them should be “Rape.” We need to have an honest talk about sexual assault and rape in our sport. The problem is big enough that all of us are culpable. We all know a few scumbags---by reputation, at least---and have these men been punished?  No, largely. Most of these men are talented capoeiristas, charismatic instructors. They’re paid to fly out and teach, given food, accommodations, and a platform. By continuing to reward them for how great they play in the roda, we tacitly endorse a continuing cycle of harassment and assault.  For those of you who’ve held events, how many people have you brought out because they’re high-profile, skilled capoeiristas while also knowing you have to keep an eye on them at the after-party? How many formados are you friendly with despite knowing their reputation for pushing the boundaries of consensual sex?

The gut-reaction retort to everything I’ve said here is, “It’s a witch hunt!”  That I’ve grabbed my pitchfork and torch a little too eagerly. That the women speaking up about this are man-haters, femi-nazis with a license to castrate.  That the men who support them are gender-traitors and betas who can’t get a date anyhow.  That together we’re conspiring to inflate the problem.  Rape histrionics.  And yeah okay, crying wolf isn’t helping anyone. But the reality is that false accusations, while admittedly difficult to measure, are reckoned to be about 2-8% of cases, or the same as other violent crimes (see here, here, here, and here if you’re hungry for data).  However, given that rape is extremely underreported, worrying about false accusations is like worrying about a pebble in your shoe while the rockslide’s bearing down on your head.  And as our culture shifts and the stigma of having been raped dissipates there will only be more accusations. Whatever we think the scale of the problem is now, it’s bigger than that.  

Luckily, the main takeaway here---environment influences behavior---gives us an antidote.  Like so many other social issues, if we accept that we’re all responsible for creating this environment then we can move to the next step, cleaning out our poisonous social atmosphere.  There will always be some men beyond help, serial rapists who do intentionally stalk and hurt women. And they should be reported directly to the police; let them face the ruinous consequences of their actions.  But the majority of sexual assaults are done by men who might be swayed if only the circumstances were different (if we assume capoeira is similar to universities, around 2% of men are serial, intentional rapists, and a further estimated 8-10% of men are morally gray enough to assault someone, but could be swayed in the right environment).

In buzzword-speak our strategy is “bystander intervention.”  Be aware of the situations that lead to acquaintance rape and get in the way.  Men who’re pushy, foisting drinks on a woman or trying to isolate her, need watching.  It’s not the creepy stranger, it’s the charming “friend.” Alcohol is a biggie; around 75% of sexual assaults involve alcohol abuse.  There are now bystander intervention programs aplenty, although their effect is debated (here, here, here, if you’re interested in checking them out.  Most are courses, several-day-long affairs that are usually aimed at younger people, i.e. middle-, high-school, college, on the basis that it’s more effective).  Rape is such an elusive crime anyhow, measuring the extent a program precludes rape is a big ask. Nevertheless, the logic is sound. In a group setting, we can watch out for one another.  RAINN makes it simple, “Whether you’re taking home a friend who has had too much to drink, explaining that a rape joke isn’t funny, or getting security involved when someone is behaving aggressively, choosing to step in can affect the way those around think about and respond to sexual violence.”

As simple as that sounds, it masks the hard part.  Quoting rape-victim support organizations is one thing, actually stepping in front of a man as he’s trying to lead an obviously-tanked woman upstairs is another.  Believing MeToo is cool; realizing that, as a dude, you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution is cooler. There’s no such thing as inaction here, we all contribute to our surroundings whether actively or passively.  

The dated, standard victim-blaming arguments about how it’s her fault because she was drunk, or dressed provocatively, or dumb for hanging out with the guy everyone knows is trouble, or allowed him into her room, or blah blah blah, miss the point entirely.  As a friend of mine remarked, “In 75% of rapes the woman was drunk or wearing a skirt or whatever, but in 100% of rapes the guy was a rapist.” Bitingly summed up as the shift in campaign mottos from Don’t Get Raped! to Don’t Rape!, giving advice to women about traveling in groups, keeping a headcount, watching drinks, and wearing chainmail coveralls won’t be nearly as effective as getting men to follow the advice of don’t rape people.  Getting men to address the problem will go the furthest towards solving it.

But, say it with me, context matters.  Slogans are memorable and broad, but they don’t address the finer points, like the Aziz Ansari scenario: he comes across not as a predator, but as a typically eager, pushy, clumsy guy who clomped all over her right to affirmative consent.  Plus, given that 70% of the time a woman knows her assaulter, there’s reason for her to feel conflicted about saying no.  Or, for that matter, branding a friend or acquaintance with the heavy title “rapist.” So we need to not only intervene as a bystanders, but also as sexually-active people.  Women, by virtue of being attacked both physically and culturally, have been forced to constantly examine their sexuality: being sexual and feminine means, among many things, being for men.  There’s always been inescapable element of possession.  Now, men are slowly being forced to account for their end.  What are men for? Classic masculinity doesn’t have an answer, men have always had the privilege of ignoring the question.  Contemporary masculinity might say that men are for keeping other men in check.

But condemning men also misses the point.  If we blanket sexual assault as the result of men being evil, we’ve forgotten that the vast majority of people are not unilateral.  They behave differently in different scenarios. A guy can be a good father, donate to charities, support his friends, and still commit sexual assault.  Calling him evil is a simplification, better to say he committed an evil act. Which is part of what makes rape such a monster of a problem. Lacking third-party witnesses, we mix in character judgements with the evidence.  “He couldn’t possibly have done that, he’s such a great guy.” In rape-prevention discourse, we’re often told to imagine this happening to our sisters, our mothers, if it motivates us to combat the problem. But we should also imagine our brothers, our fathers, committing rape if it helps us remember that people are complicated.

Capoeira’s Upstairs, or, Build the House, Live in it, Tear it Down, Live in it Some More

In an op-ed  titled “Asking For It -- Victim Blaming is the Ultimate Reminder of How Little Women Matter,” the feminist writer Jessica Valenti says, “Rape is a standard result of a culture mired in misogyny, but for whatever reason---denial, self-preservation, sexism---Americans bend over backwards to make excuses for male violence.”  Capoeira has the same sin. We’ve bent over backwards to accommodate sexual violence in our community.

We have what’s termed the “missing stair” problem, as coined by the blog The Pervocracy.  After writing a post about a rapist in his community, the blogger got a few emails from other community members, writing not in shock but in recognition.  “Oh, you must mean our local rapist.” Everyone knew who it was, and even knew to assign him a “Rape Babysitter” at parties to keep him contained. They had a house with a staircase with one stair out; they’d long gotten used to hopping that missing stair.  They never fixed the problem, they just worked around it.

Our staircase is broken.  We all know at least one formado who needs the equivalent of a rape babysitter, who’s too friendly with teenage girls, who makes inappropriate comments in workshops, who’s maybe had a run-in with the cops on sexual violence charges.  In women-only facebook groups, girls swap advice about how to have a good, safe time at batizados, i.e. which men are the harassers, how to head them off, and what to do if they turn pushy. Capoeira hasn’t resolved this problem so far, we’ve only accommodated it.

And we continue to accommodate it by allowing capoeira’s hierarchical structure and rigid masculinity dictate who goes and who stays.  When the news broke on Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer, CNN reporter Dylan Byers tweeted (then hastily deleted) that “never has so much talent left the industry all at once.”  But as Rebecca Traister pointed out, “The point is that the pool of men in whom we’ve been able to discern talent to begin with is pre-poisoned by sexism.”  We need to face this truth. Too many of our upper cords are held by poisonous, misogynistic men. Cleaning them out may seem harsh or unfair or like a loss to the sport because they’re talented and venerated.  But part of what got them there initially was the clear field, the weeding out of talented women. Capoeira purports to be for all. A social tapestry that supposedly draws from all backgrounds. This is a lie. In most places, the way it’s practiced and prolonged now, capoeira discriminates against women.

So now we begin solving the problem.  Be the bystander who intervenes. Be the man who, mid-batizado-hookup, proceeds respectfully.  Think hard about what affirmative consent is, what yes means yes is about. For those men who’ve already proven toxic, confront them.  Try to get them to understand why their behavior is unacceptable. For the ones who’re beyond help, punish them professionally. Isolate them.  Don’t invite them to events, don’t pay them to teach, don’t enroll in their classes. They don’t deserve to have access to this community.

As a capoeirista, take responsibility for creating an environment that encourages good behavior.  As an instructor, take responsibility for your students. Hold an honest discussion before events about how women are treated in workshops and rodas and after-parties.  As a student, take responsibility for your peers. Don’t let them get carried away; don’t let them be preyed on; don’t let them commit a heinous, reprehensible, morally-pungent act.  And as a human being, take responsibility for yourself.

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