This article originally appeared on VICE Brazil
"I want you all," says Lay Moretti, a rapper from São Paulo, when I ask what kind of girls she wants featured on her blog. Lay is the founder of Bucepower Gang— a Tumblr page where women anonymously post selfies, nudes, and belfies. Lay started the page in an attempt to instigate a conversation surrounding a female's sexual freedom in Brazilian society. Her and her "gang" are pioneering a new kind of feminism, one that doesn't demand any sort of high-brow academic background.
Bucepower exists thanks to Tumblr, a platform that according to many has helped the development and growth of feminism online. "For me, Tumblr is a kick-ass tool," says Lay. "I've been using it for a long time and I like that it gives people like us the power to express ourselves with words and images."
The whole crew showed up to our interview: Barone, Lay, Tutti, Janna, and Cris are all in their 20s and look so cool that I left wanting to dye my own hair blue. In fact, they may very well be the coolest women in São Paulo, always the first to hear about the trendiest bars and parties. They're equal parts crazy, intelligent, and informed—but still, no one ever hits them up to discuss feminism on forums or notable feminist blogs.
Lay tells me that she never gets involved in any online feminist discussions because they are always drowned in unrelatable academic research, and the people who organize them seem to be forgetting that it takes more than a couple of books to attract women to a cause (especially if those women spend their days working, studying, or both). Cris says that she is so disappointed with virtual feminism that she no longer considers herself a "typical" feminist: "I'm a feminist in my own way but if the bullshit that people talk on the internet is feminism, then I'd rather not be called a feminist."
They're right; Feminism these days seems to be either a salad of Facebook ramblings or a never-ending panel discussion about absolutely nothing. What's worse, certain so-called feminists seem to be constantly arguing with each other over what feminism is. "Girls, we are all in the same ship, heading in the same direction. If someone calls me a whore, the woman next to me will probably also be called a whore at some point," argues Lay.
"I'm a feminist in my own way but if the bullshit that people talk on the internet is feminism, then I'd rather not be called a feminist."
"This lack of unity between women can only benefit men. For example, let's say a guy hooks up with two girls: It's almost certain that those girls will end up fighting with each other, when it's actually the guy who should be punished," says Tutti.
Tutti is a rapper, but São Paulo's hip-hop scene isn't the most welcoming place for a girl on the mic, at least partly because in Brazil being overtly confident can often be equated with being slutty. "Sometimes, the toughest insults come from people watching my shows. A lot of people just stare at me and judge me," explains Tutti.
That's part of the reason the gang was started: The girls felt as if they had to take a stand and deal with the oppression they'd been experiencing. "People like the rapper Dina Di showed the way and put girl power into rap—I don't see any other woman in Brazil shaking things up like that. All you see is girls teasing each other," says Lay.
The gang's biggest challenge so far has been finding their own feminist voice; one that differs from popular modern feminism, which according to the girls has been dominated by the white middle class for far too long.
Tutti says that the gang welcomes any woman who wants to learn. "Every woman lives in a different reality. I'm black, so I've experienced different things and my priorities are different than that of a white woman's. But we're not trying to preach or say that one is better than the other; We just want everyone to get along. It's more like: 'I'm black and I've lived through this kind of stuff and you're white and have lived through other kinds of stuff. So, let's help each other, right?'"
With stories of suicide and lives destroyed by revenge porn popping up more and more frequently, the idea of creating a website full of naked women might seem a little weird to some. To Bucepower, their Tumblr is an important part of salvaging a girl's sanity. "This Tumblr was created to tell women that you can show off both your body and your sexuality. But, on a deeper level, it's also a place where girls can get to know each other, exchange experiences, and discuss serious problems," says Cris.
Last year, Janna found out that an ex-boyfriend had shared a naked picture of her on a WhatsApp group with 50 members. One of the participants in the group was her boyfriend at the time. "I was sure that it would never happen to me—I ended up loosing two jobs because of it. I suffered a lot. A lot of girls mocked me. One day, a bunch of girls even began kicking me while I was walking down the street. These days, I can happily say that I love my body and Bucepower changed me and taught me to accept myself. I want to be able to show my fucking body. It's mine after all," she said.
"You're not a badass just because you have a naked picture of me. I post naked pictures of myself on Tumblr because I want to. So, fuck you. You post a pic of your dick first and let's see what happens," Lay chimes in.
Barone tells me that being part of Bucepower was a way for her to combat her own insecurities about her body. "I don't get any support from my family—everyone just tells me I'm fat. That I need to burn my belly fat; that my face is beautiful but I need to lose weight; that men only want fat girls for sex and nothing else. I felt so ashamed of my body, but, with these girls, I've learned that we need to share our self-knowledge with other women, instead of putting them down."
Bucepower is a fairly recent invention, but it has already attracted a huge following. The gang says that a lot of girls write to tell them how happy they are to have finally found a place where everyone can be sexual and show off their bodies without being judged. "Selfies are like therapy. You get to look closely at your body; you actually see it and you accept yourself," Cris points out.
Tutti adds: "We aren't here to create virtual characters. We're a new generation of feminists—we are from the street, from the ghettos. We're from the suburbs. We are black and white girls who grew up in favelas."
"Women in suburban communities help other. They talk with each other, debating and coming up with ways to educate those who aren't informed or don't have money," she continues. Capturing and educating the masses is definitely something that academic feminism seems to have failed at.
"What about men?" I ask and the whole gang laughs. "One day, a guy told one of us that he'd fucked three of us. Here's what she responded: 'Actually, I think YOU were fucked by all three of them'," Lay tells me. "Guys hate that we are changing the narrative, they really do."
Before I switch off my tape recorder, Lay utters a concluding remark: "A girl doesn't need to victimize herself to get attention, she needs to have and be the power. The Bucepower Gang aren't interested in competing for likes and shares. Girls, all we want to do is kick men's arses."