Exploring Eroticism and Masculinities in Contemporary Brazilian Literature


Hatched by Thati

Feb 13, 2024

4 min read


Exploring Eroticism and Masculinities in Contemporary Brazilian Literature


Contemporary Brazilian literature has delved into various themes and subjects that challenge societal norms and explore the complexities of human experiences. Two areas of focus that have emerged prominently in recent literary works are erotica and the exploration of different masculinities. This article aims to examine the intersections between these two themes and analyze their representation in contemporary Brazilian literature.

Erotism and Subversion in Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories:

Georges Bataille's influential work, "O Erotismo," has provided a theoretical framework for understanding the role of eroticism in literature. The anthology "Os cem melhores contos brasileiros do século" curated by I. Moriconi showcases a diverse range of Brazilian short stories that explore eroticism and subversion. These stories challenge traditional notions of sexuality and desire, presenting characters who defy societal expectations and embrace their own sexual autonomy.

Hilda Hilst and the Exploration of the Obscene:

Hilda Hilst, a revered Brazilian author, has made significant contributions to the exploration of eroticism in literature. Her collection of short stories, "Contos d'escárnio. Textos grotescos," challenges societal norms and delves into the taboo aspects of human desire. Hilst's works are known for their explicit and provocative content, offering a unique perspective on the boundaries of eroticism in Brazilian literature.

Masculinities and Gender Intersectionality:

The study of masculinities has gained recognition as an essential field of inquiry within gender studies. Scholars such as C.E. Henning and J.W. Scott have explored gender as a useful category of historical analysis. Their works emphasize the importance of understanding how different forms of masculinity intersect with other social markers of difference, such as race, class, and sexuality.

Rethinking Hegemonic and Subaltern Masculinities:

Raewyn Connell's concept of hegemonic masculinity has been influential in understanding power dynamics and social hierarchies. In her article, "Masculinidade hegemônica: repensando o conceito," Connell challenges the traditional understanding of masculinity and highlights the need for a more nuanced approach. Miguel Vale de Almeida's research on masculinity in southern Portugal offers a case study that reveals the complex relationship between gender, power, and culture.

Masculinities, National Projects, and Racialization:

The intersection of masculinity with national projects and racialization is a topic that requires critical examination. Osmundo Pinho's article, "Um enigma masculino: Interrogando a masculinidade da desigualdade racial no Brasil," delves into the complexities of racialized masculinities in Brazil. Andrew Canessa's work on gender and citizenship in Latin America provides insights into the role of masculinities within broader political contexts.

Exploring Homosexual Masculinities in São Paulo:

Camilo Braz's anthropological study, "Macho versus Macho um olhar antropológico sobre práticas homoeróticas entre homens em São Paulo," examines the dynamics of homosexual masculinities in the urban context of São Paulo. Júlio Assis Simões' research on aging and gay men in São Paulo sheds light on the experiences of older homosexual men and their relationship with their bodies and sexuality.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Diversify your reading: Explore contemporary Brazilian literature that delves into the themes of erotica and masculinities. By engaging with a variety of authors and perspectives, you can gain a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding these topics.
  • 2. Challenge societal norms: Question traditional notions of gender and sexuality by reading literature that challenges societal expectations and offers alternative narratives. By doing so, you can expand your own understanding of human experience and break free from restrictive social constructs.
  • 3. Embrace intersectionality: Recognize the interconnectedness of different social categories, such as gender, race, and sexuality, in shaping individual experiences. By considering the intersections of these identities, you can gain a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of human existence.


The exploration of erotica and the study of masculinities in contemporary Brazilian literature offer unique insights into the complexities of human experience. By examining the works of authors such as Hilda Hilst and engaging with scholarly research on masculinities, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the diverse ways in which these themes are represented and subverted in Brazilian literature. By diversifying our reading, challenging societal norms, and embracing intersectionality, we can broaden our perspectives and contribute to a more inclusive and nuanced understanding of gender and sexuality.

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