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Chat and Meet for "Country Here" > Feminism in Brazil

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message 1: by Manoela (new)

Manoela Bueno I think it would be amazing to talk about women in the cultural reality in Brazil. Talk about the view that the population has on Dilma due to her being a female. Talk about the lack of women in politics (and stuff like the fact that we only got a female restroom in the Senate). The cultural pre-determined notions of what is like to be a woman. About carnaval and beer commercials and the hyper-sexualization of women in them.
The list goes on and on.
Anyway, what do you guys think about this?

message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 21, 2016 05:49PM) (new)

I think our country (Brazil) is racist, homotransphobic, sexist and conservative. Even though we have a female president, there's a lot of things to be done, remember that car stickers with her picture on it? Absurd!
The vision outsiders have of our country is that we have beautiful women who likes to dance the samba, go to the beach and that we play football a lot, not to mention Carnaval in Rio. Where women (even with the zika virus spreading all around us), dance around the Sapucaí being sexualized. We can talk about "Globeleza" here too - https://blackwomenofbrazil.co/2016/01...

And the episode with the beer Itaipava about the "Verão" commercial - https://br.pinterest.com/pin/60869032...

Last year we had what the media called "Women's Spring" and it was the most beautiful things I've seen - http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/feat... - but there's still a lot to be done here

message 3: by Beatriz (last edited Feb 21, 2016 05:53PM) (new)

Beatriz (bblcls) | 7 comments This is a very broad topic, so I feel like all I can really talk about is my personal experience as a Brazilian woman.
Brazil has a fairly equal Constitution when it comes to women’s rights. We’ve been able to vote since 1934 (regardless of race or class), even though dictatorships put a stop to it for some time. This suffrage at the time was referred to as “Voto das Saias”, which translates into “Skirt Votes” .
Despite the fact that we are all equal towards the law, it doesn’t seem to work that way. A lot of people appear to think that chauvinism is a faraway thing around here, simply because of basic women rights. But you see things, you hear things here and there, catcalls and name-calling and looks. They’re encrypted in our social code.
How much of that you experience, of course, varies according to your social class, your race, etc. As a middle class white woman, I have hardly ever experienced direct, blatantly detectable acts of misogyny. There might have been two or three times in my life when I saw something and immediately went: “Yes, this is chauvinistic”.
Indirect acts, however, are just as dangerous. Things you only realize later, and keep questioning yourselef about. Yes- most stuff, I only realized later: how I never put on make-up because I was smart, and I was taught that girls who put on make-up were shallow, and I didn’t want to be shallow. How my father always told me feelings were shallow, and crying and smiling were shallow, and clothing, and pink, too. I don’t blame him- he never believed girls were inferior to boys, he thought that girls could be just as successful as boys, were they taught to behave less accordingly to female stereotypes. Sure, he was assuming that everything related to that stereotype was worth tossing in the trash- while I think we should just ignore the stereotypes altogether and do what makes us happy. Anyway, my father’s was an honest mistake, and it took me a long time to realize how big a mistake that was.
That was my personal experience, of course, but I see all kinds of different women being affected in different ways and not noticing they’re suffering some kind of abuse related to their gender. Chauvinism, in some cases, is a colourless, disturbingly invisible gas we breathe every day, as we go out to the streets. I hear my stepmother’s stories about her husband-hunting times, and I see my friend hesitant to stop talking to a bitterly friend-zoned admirer, who makes her think she owes him something for not liking him back. My mother became what she never wanted to be; a housewife, and the boys in my class tend to be much more comfortable in raising their hands than the girls, even though there are much more girls than boys, in my class.
I actually remember hearing one of those guys say, once, that there wasn’t a drop of Chauvinism left in Brazil- of course, he was basing such declaration on the fact that his mom’s boyfriend seemed to care about her opinions. Great evidence, right?

I think...There’s a moment in your life- at least, I hope there is, as painful as it might be- when you realize there were way too many things you weren’t able to do simply because you were a girl. I feel like every woman, regardless of her story, has lived, above all, as a woman. Perhaps some of your problems were caused by different things, perhaps completely different things, but do you ever wonder what would have happened if you hadn’t been taught to see yourself the way society wanted you to? In the end, we are women because they told us to be what they thought women were. Above it all, beneath everything else.

Now, you’re going to tell me- this is at the same time generic and particular. You are not illustrating what happens in Brazil, you’re illustrating somehow what happens in most Western countries- and, at the same time, saying things about your life no one really cares about- and, let’s face it, a lot of people have it worse than you do in Brazil.
True. I don’t feel like I should talk about black feminism as a white person, and I’m afraid I’ll say something wrong. So, let’s just make it clear that black women suffer from much more direct acts of Misogyny- there is actually a genre of Funk music that is specifically dedicated to the empowerment of black women in the favelas. The favelas, by the way, are communities were low-income people live. You don’t ever see people who don’t live in the favelas in the favelas. There’s one right by my house and I have never seen the inside of it, just the people commuting to work and taking the bus.
Nevertheless, I have had some limited experience with direct acts of Misogyny coming from the less polished and subtle folks, folks who don't know about making it pretty. A particular conversation comes to mind- it wasn’t I who was being directly affected, but it was one of those mouth-opening moments where you just don’t know what to do but think to yourself: “Wow, people really say these things. Out loud. Where have I been living all this time?”
What happened was, I overheard a conversation between the doorman and the janitor of my building. The janitor was very upset because his girlfriend had cheated on him, and he blamed it on the Lei Maria da Penha. The Lei Maria da Penha is a law that decrees a specific punishment for male significant others who physically assault their female partners. According to my janitor, the proclaiming of such law made girls think that ‘they could be whores and get away with it’. The doorman agreed and added: ‘and when they make you kill them, it’s your fault. The woman turns you into a murderer and you have to live with it for the rest of your life’. Apparently, he was frustrated because a friend of his had been jailed for committing that very offense (which, in our country, is categorized as ‘Feminicide’: a hate-crime, basically, against women, which I guess is a good thing- and I think it increases the sentence).
So, long story short, there are layers and layers of unresolved Misogyny in Brazil today. Recently, I enrolled in University, and thus was suddenly swept from my doorman guarded building and private school into a public college. I get there at 7 am, and am afraid of being raped until I leave. A guy in Medical school raped a girl at a party and he wasn’t even expelled (the government said it was a Uni problem, Uni said it was for the government to punish him… he was suspended for 6 months, and has already come back). So many people are raped on college parties that not even they, themselves, know: invisible, subtle, and almost pretty- rape. Something you only realize later, or years later. Doesn’t mean it’s not it. Sure, perhaps we’re behind South Africa when it comes to rape statistics, and you can still walk on the street (I have actually never even been mugged), but I wonder how much those statistics actually take into account. And there is the less subltle kind of rape: at student housing, women get threats every day. Last July, a girl was raped in the middle of broad daylight. My cousin and I often discuss what to wear when we go, in order to avoid such misfortune, and the students tend to always travel in packs. Fun fact: the law says anything, from a butt grab to knock-you-down-into-the-plants rape, qualifies as the same thing. But the Constitution is boring, I guess, and people tend to skip some pages.
But I am talking too much. You wanted to discuss Dilma and Brazilian women in Politics. Well, Dilma is not very popular here, but I rarely see people attacking her because she is a woman. Maybe fellas such as my janitor and the Uni rapists would say such things, but in the middle-class setting of a Facebook page, the people who are upset with the crisis and the dollar being 5 reais (oh, poor guys won’t be able to buy an Iphone this year) tend to go the other way. They can’t really put their frustrations into coherent sentences, so all they do is call our president names such as ‘slut’, ‘fat cow’, ‘whore’, ‘ugly bitch’ and so on. Like, you may have your opinion, but can’t you just call her incompetent? Why does former president Lula get to be a thief and an evil mastermind while Dilma is simply an ugly whore? I swear, the other day, someone made a post about her clothes- something like “she doesn’t even know how to dress, how will she rule a country?”. Seriously?
I was really proud when Brazil elected a female president- it was, indeed, an accomplishment, and I still am proud (although considerably more timidly)-, but one must take into consideration the factors that went into the equation. The majority of female politicians wouldn’t stand a chance against the men- the only reason Dilma was even considered for the election was because everyone else her party had been cogitating for the next presidential run was being investigated for buying votes to pass laws in the Senate. But Lula, who everyone loved (actually, everyone loved Brazil at the time, since the dollar was worth 1 real and people were getting rich), campaigned for her as if he was campaigning for his life. The less educated people thought Dilma was his wife. They literally call her Lula’s wife, and think that he is her boss. Actually, it’s not only the less educated people who think Lula is her boss. They could only grasp the concept of a female president if she was linked to an important man.
Furthermore, there are still very few women in Politics today- just to paint a picture: out of Brazil’s 26 states and federal district, not one is governed by a woman. Does no one vote for women? How many woman actually ran? We are taught that Politics are a men’s sport. They require aggressiveness and assertiveness and assuming the worst of everyone you meet, and those things are simply unladylike. As comfort, we are taught that, behind every great man is a great woman. I used to really like this saying when I was younger, since it made me feel like men were all truly idiots who needed to be oriented by us. I thought of chess, where the queen is able to do so much more than the king- but there’s that thing about chess: when the queen dies, on chess, the game still goes on. Your queen might be the most valuable piece in the game, but it’s not the most important. If it falls, you’ll probably lose, but you don’t lose just because it fell. It’ll take your frontline, but it won’t get you a trophy. Behind every man is a great woman. That’s what they tell us, to make us feel like it’s our duty to do everything and keep quiet about it- like it’s our little bittersweet secret.
Do people actually think that, though? That behind every man there is a great woman. Brazilians seem to only ever vote for women if they like the men they are connected to. Marina Silva: Chico Mendes. Luciana Genro: Tarso Genro. Martha Suplicy: Eduardo Suplicy. Of course, I don’t have any data that confirms this- and Politics are a Family business-, but I don’t see men in need of such credentials. No one thinks there are women telling them what to do.
I don’t know how to solve this. It’s easy to proclaim a law, but you can’t change the way people think by doing that. Anyway, according to our Constitution, there is no Misogyny in Brazil.

message 4: by Gayle (new)

Gayle Kimball (gaylekimball) What do Brazilians think about this article that says;
A “women’s spring” blossomed in Brazil in 2015 in response to increasing domestic violence and efforts by evangelical politicians to further restrict abortion. Women are less than 10% of the legislators so feminists discuss a quota system. A coordinator with the Brazilian Women’s Union, Luciana Targeno explained, “Under this law, a woman would have to prove she has suffered sexual violence. This is a cultural question of machismo. Poor women have little information about our fight. They believe in the evangelists and they applaud." Many young women got involved for the first time in the fifth annual “Slutwalk” in November. Beatriz Moreno, age 18, participated because, “We need more visibility for feminism in Brazil”
Donna Bowater and Priscilla Moraes, “Is a Woman’s Spring Blossoming in Brazil?” Al Jazeera, December 11, 2015.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I've read this article a few times and it's good, 2015 was a good year for women in Brazil because of the "Women's Spring", but our government wont listen to the voices of those in the streets demanding their rights. Now they have accepted this stupi law - http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/1... - making everything more difficult for everyone.

message 6: by Larissa (new)

Larissa (laracvanti) Bia, thank you for your comment but I have to say, Dilma's election never felt like a victory to me not as far as women are concerned. she never really had a solid career as a politician. who was she before Lula's support? there are other women in politics whose voices have been silenced and who stand behind some clear cut principles. principles i cannot say Dilma defends. I will though admit that today political parties have shown more interest in having women well represented in numbers. hopefully those won't just be gold diggers.

message 7: by Gayle (new)

Gayle Kimball (gaylekimball) Dear Brazilians, I invite you to critique my Brazil section in my book draft on global young women's activism. I quote some of you and want to make sure it's right. Thanks, gkimball at csuchico dot edu

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Gayle wrote: "Dear Brazilians, I invite you to critique my Brazil section in my book draft on global young women's activism. I quote some of you and want to make sure it's right. Thanks, gkimball at csuchico dot..."

Gayle I'm still reading the files you sent me. I'll send you an answer as soon as I'm finished. But so far they're great!

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