The following text is my analysis of patricinhas, or upper-class Brazilian twenty-something women, who I have been unwillingly subjected to for the past week.
The women here under my observation are currently reading the Portuguese translation of a book called "Why Men Marry Bitches: A Woman's Guide to Winning a Man's Heart." One of the girls brought it (full of highlights), and they have been pouring over it and analyzing it poolside, taking breaks only to turn over on their lawn chairs or to instead pour over and analyze the latest issue of Cosmopolitan (called Nova in Portuguese) or Claudia (the Portuguese version of Jane).
The women here are all more or less single. Two of them have "paqueros", which I may be spelling wrong and which can mean either "love interest" or "casual boyfriend." But none of them are satisfied: with their relationships, specifically, or with their lives, in general. I think I have an idea of why. But first, let me help you get a sense of who an upper-class Brazilian twenty-something woman (UCBTSW) is. I've developed a profile, laid out below:
This woman is frail-- usually physically, and always mentally. She is always on the verge of a tantrum or a breakdown. She can't lift boxes or operate heavy machinery. (That's why she has maids and drivers. Yes, drivers.) She pays for the most expensive gym in town, and the fanciest name-brand gym clothes, but her workouts are sparse because sweating is gross, and her physical endurance is low.
VIEWS ON THE WORLD
For the UCBTSW, the world is a Dangerous place, with a capital D! Every new situation should be faced with fear. Every challenge should be avoided. Everyone is trying to kill her or trick her into giving up her money. The question is never, ever "Why not?" but always "Why? What if I get hurt?"
VIEWS ON HERSELF
The UCBTSW was raised constantly hearing "You are a princess!", whether directly or indirectly. She was always given the best clothes and the newest toys. But most importantly, she was never asked to do anything in return. She was shown that she deserved the best of everything simply for existing. She was taught that, because she "is who she is" (i.e. from a rich family and probably white), she is better than everyone who is not those things, better than the poor dark maid who cleans her toilets and brings her more juice. Chores? That's for people in the favelas! She was also never required to do anything she didn't want to do. You don't want to finish your peas? No problem, sweetie. You don't want to do your homework? That's okay, minha filha, I'll tell your teacher you were sick. You don't want to do your required internship in college? That's fine, baby! Work is for poor people. I'll give you the money to pay some student on a scholarship to go for you and sign your name.
As a result of this treatment, the UCBTSW has a very high opinion of herself. She feigns modesty by complaining about her cellulite and under-eye circles, but her complaints and demands reveal her true thoughts. The phrase "Who do you think I am?" is not foreign on the tongue of a UCBTSW. It is a common reaction when being asked to sit in the backseat of the car, or to help load groceries from the cart onto the cashier's little conveyor belt at the grocery store. It would most certainly be her reaction if she were asked to do things that are unheard of in the life of a UCBTSW, such as sit at the same table as the maid, or clean her dishes off of the table after dinner, or buy clothes downtown.
Unfortunately, due to too much inbreeding and too much plastic surgery, the UCBTSW isn't exactly a looker (though this isn't what ultimately leaves her perpetually single). Of course, her friends make a point to tell her how sexy, hot, gostosa, and linda she is when they're around her, only to give each other "the poor thing" faces and click their tongues a bit when the subject of her lack of beauty comes up. However, not being a looker doesn't do much to dissuade the UCBTSW from using her Orkut profile to post entire albums of pictures of herself making "sexy" poses and come-hither looks into the camera. (It's important that it is only the UCBTSW in the Orkut photo album entitled "EU! rsrs :* :* ", even if that means cutting friends out of pictures in which she thinks she looks particularly cute.)
The perpetual student, the UCBTSW is always enrolled in a "curso" of some kind. The ultimate goal of the UCBTSW's education is not to be educated (because studying is boring and she doesn't like conversations about nerdy things, especially politics-- she's "completamente fora disso!"), but to minimize the time between being provided for by her parents and being provided for by her husband. A "curso", of course, is also a good place to meet a guy!
The UCBTSW has few responsibilities, which leaves her plenty of time for the most important things in life: shopping, manicures, pedicures, waxes, naps, and baladas. (One vague translation of baladas is "nights on the town.") She quickly resorts to tantrums when asked to have any kind of responsibility of any kind, such as stopping by the post office for her mother or picking up some lettuce on the way home from the spa. Despite all of her free time, the UCBTSW always feels far too busy, overworked, and overwhelmed, and needs therapy and massages to help her deal with her stress.
LIKES AND DISLIKES
The UCBTSW's preferences never stray from the status quo. It is also unnecessary to distinguish "dislikes" from "fears" in her mind.
She has a fear of:
-the sun and heat (but also of air conditioners, which just make the air so dry!!)
-insects and all wild creatures, including but not limited to:
people with tattoos
people without shoes
-and of course, the constant and frequently mentioned fear of being robbed, raped, and ravaged.
She is a fan of:
-American pop singers, esp. Avril Lavine, Colbie Caillat, and signing along even when she doesn't understand. You know, because English is "chique". And because her mother told her her whole life that she sings like an angel, even though she doesn't. At all.
-the phrases "No aguento mais!" ("I cant TAKE IT anymore!") and "gente!" ("Oh my god, you guys!")
-beauty and fashion magazines
-gossip (even though she lists it as a dislike in her Orkut profile, along with "pessoas falsas" ("fake people")
-and of course, never-ending adolescence.
VIEWS ON MEN
Similar to her views on life, the UCBTSW assumes the worst about all men. Men are dogs! They're liars! Cheaters! Womanizers! they only want the UCBTSW for sex. The UCBTSW starts every relationship on a basis of suspicion. The man is "guilty until proven innocent, which he can never prove, so he is always guilty." The UCBTSW constantly checks her boyfriend's phone and Orkut for messages from other girls. She drives by his house and stops by his work to see if he's there when he says he is. She constantly bad mouths him, to and in front of friends.
Her views on men are clear. However, her views on men's and women's roles in relationships are a mess of contradictions. On the one hand, the UCBTSW cannot be expected to "settle" for any man who is not "like her" or "of her caliber": he must be tall, handsome, rich, have a degree, a good job, a sense of humor, and most importantly, a nice car. He must take care of her and treat her like the princess that she is. On the other hand, he must respect her as a woman (she has a DEGREE, after all! Not to mention her family!) and treat her as his equal.... when it is convenient for her.
WHY THE UCBTSW CAN'T GET A GUY TO MARRY HER
This profile summary of the UCBTSW brings me to the point of my analysis and why a silly self-help book isn't going to do any good. And I'll give you a hint: it's not only because the book has the following advice:
The key word is admiration. The man must know and feel that you admire him. If he knows this, he will offer you the world!
The reason the UCBTSW can't get a man is because the gap between what she believes she has to offer in the relationship and what she actually has to offer is far, far far too wide. She believes that she can have women's rights and equality and all that good feminist stuff that the rest of us have worked so hard for WITHOUT giving anything in return and WHILE still being 100% taken care of.
The UCBTSW is single not because of her botched Botox but because she is too demanding and too boring. She has no hobbies or interests or passions. She has no domestic skills, which are required not as a wife but as a person. (She has likely never ironed a shirt or washed a load of laundry in her life.) She has an inflated sense of entitlement and holds backwards, racist, elitist, simplified views of her fellow citizens. She can't carry on a conversation and she can't take even a moment of discomfort. THIS IS ANNOYING FOR ANY MAN.
Which leads me to why the UCBTSW is unhappy in general: her definition of discomfort is VERY, VERY BROAD. Because she was raised to be given everything she could ever want or dream of, and never had to just "suck it up" in any way, her list of demands for comfort are high. Her pillowcases need to match her bedspread. She can't have less than 8 hours of sleep. Her onions must be chopped, not diced. She can't share a room. She can't be in a car with people who have ever gotten car sick, because vomiting disgusts her. She can't get rained on, she can't walk more than 2 blocks, she needs to always have a specific brand of hand soap because every other brand gives her a rash.
It is impossible for the UCBTSW to be satisfied, with men specifically and with life in general, and so she is never happy. And no equally superficial self-help book is going to change that.