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Was it rape or just a joke? Media and political disputes in Alexandre Frota's case

Grant number: 17/08060-3
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2017
Effective date (End): April 30, 2019
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology - Urban Anthropology
Principal researcher:Heloisa Buarque de Almeida
Grantee:Ana Carolina Braga Azevedo
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This work tries to analyze the situation created by the actor Alexandre Frota, when he revealed in a television show that he committed rape, in a funny way, saying that he has "grabbed" a 'mãe de santo' (mother-of-saint, a priestess of candomble religion). After the reprise of this interview, in 2015, some groups and media means related to social movements interpreted this narrative as a rape scene, accusing him and the show of rape apology. In alternative media - social media, blogs (self-labeled feminists or not), social movements for women's rights - the case has had some repercussion, and the majority of those means saw the scene as a sexual violence scene, some mentioning the word rape. On hegemonic media, on the other hand, as large circulation vehicles and large range channels, the situation was talked about in a discrete and ambiguous way, in some cases appearing as a joke, in others as a sex scene. Frota's own vision, exposed during the show, wanders between a conquest and merely sex. This scene and the media and political impact that it provoked allows us to consider the hegemonic media ways of operating in contraposition to alternative media, focusing on the debate of sexual violence and how rape and sex categories were used in contrasting medias. Thinking about the dispute around this situation, the project seeks to analyze which categories and meanings some medias have used, focusing on sexual and gender violence, and how the different narratives of that situation were built. (AU)

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