A Brazilian YouTuber brags about rape. Women are not amused.
São Paulo—Brazilian YouTube personality Everson Zoio, known as Everson Big Eye by his fans, caused a stir recently when an old video of him was unearthed by an unidentified YouTuber. In the clip, from March 2017, he flippantly confesses to three amused friends that he raped his sleeping girlfriend. The rediscovery of the video set the Internet ablaze.
“That day I wanted some sex,” Zoio says in the video. “However, she was tired and said, ‘Not going to happen.’” He goes on to describe how he began undressing her after she fell asleep, then raped her while “trying not to wake her ... It was just supposed to be a little prank without her noticing it.”
When the video resurfaced July 27, it quickly became a trending topic on Brazilian Twitter, garnering 276,000 views. Later that day, however, the account holder deleted the video from YouTube. Then, another social media user discovered and shared a second old clip of Zoio in which he made yet another rape joke. Everson Zoio’s “jokes” quickly made it to news outlets. After an ensuing backlash, Zoio claimed that the original video was a made-up story and nothing more than a joke in bad taste.
Brazil, which is a predominantly conservative and Catholic country, is also a nation where a rape takes place every 11 minutes, and a gang rape occurs every two and a half hours. As of 2015, the country had the fifth-highest rate of femicide in the world and had the highest rate of killings of transgender people.
These numbers reflect “a culture of violence against women, which has to do with a patriarchal system emboldened by the rise in fundamentalist views, militarism, deterioration of the rule of law, and renewed racism,” Laura Carlsen, an expert on violence against women in the Americas told me in 2016. “The reassertion of the rule of the heterosexual male by force in this context is reflected in rape—with impunity.”
Still, there is hope for a path forward, according to Katiuscia Galhera, an intersectional feminist activist and foreign analyst at Campinas State University in southeastern Brazil. Galhera recommends cultivating public forums for discussions about rape, violence, and consent as a means of changing commonly held misogynistic beliefs in Brazil. There needs to be a new culture of accountability for sexualized violence.
“No matter where the violence comes from,” said Galhera, “Making the aggressors accountable and not silencing the victims is the best way to stop such deeply entrenched violence, which affects not only the person raped, but also her family,” and her community.
In a nod toward culture change, the Curitiba Social Mix, the largest gathering for digital influencers in southern Brazil, vetoed the participation of Zoio in their July 28 gathering, saying that the organization “repudiates vehemently any form of violence against women.” Zoio was supposed to deliver a lecture at the event. On July 30, civil police from Minas Gerais state in southeastern Brazil opened an investigation into Zoio’s bragging video, with plans to interview those involved.
In a 2016 incident similar to the current frenzy over Zoio’s video, pictures and video were shared by Brazilian social media users showing numerous men and boys posing boastfully beside an unconscious 16-year-old girl after gang-raping her in west Rio de Janeiro. The horrific images shocked the nation, sparking protests and calls for accountability. The incident marked a turning point for Brazilians: No longer were people willing to stand idly by and tolerate the country’s rape culture.
While 10 years ago Zoio’s disturbing video might have passed as a joke or an instance of “boys being boys,” the reaction of Brazilians on social media illustrates a culture shift in the tropical nation. The male-dominated society—known for its machismo and violence toward women—is changing, and people like Zoio are finally being held to account.
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