democraciaAbierta

#Elenão and #Elassim as the vital struggle against the fascism in Brazil

Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro frequently expresses contempt towards women, and his candidacy embodies the patriarchal society that we live in. Español, Português 

Nathália Sanglard Katarina Pitasse Fragoso
17 October 2018
elenão1.jpg

Ele Não Protest. Wikimedia Commons. All Rights Reserved.

In “A room of one’s own”, Virginia Woolf wrote that, for centuries women had served as mirrors with the magical powers of portraying men as being double their real size.

These mirrors, fundamental to violent actions, explain the insistence of certain characters, such as Mussolini, to make women smaller than men, because if they could be shrunk, men could not stop growing.   

Almost a hundred years later, unfortunately the mirror allegory is still a valid tool to explain male supremacy. This is especially true in the Brazilian political arena where the hate speech of leading Presidential candidate Jair Messias Bolsonaro is directed against women and other vulnerable groups.

As a former Army captain, his violent discourse illustrates how politics can be turned into a battlefield by fabricating enemies and playing upon peoples’ built-in prejudices.

Women, portrayed as less than men in Bolsonaro’s speeches, constitute the majority of Brazil’s population: they surpass men by 4.5 million, according to the Brazilian official data base (IBGE).

He once said to a colleague and congresswoman, for example, that he would not even rape her because she was ugly. This speech seems to “fit in” to a country that registered an increase in the number of rapes in 2017, with an average of 164 cases per day.

If one considers that most of the rapes remain unreported, the amount could easily reach 500,000 cases per year.

Women, portrayed as less than men in Bolsonaro’s speeches, constitute the majority of Brazil’s population: they surpass men by 4.5 million, according to the Brazilian official data base (IBGE).

Nonetheless, women work on average 7.5 hours a week more than men (adding paid and unpaid activities) and, although they are more educated, they still have a lower monthly average income: men earn around R$ 2,251 (US$ 595) whereas women get only R$ 1,762 (US$ 465).

A study by the World Economic Forum of 2016 points out that it would take at least 95 years for Brazil to achieve equal pay between men and women.

In a TV show, Bolsonaro also said women should earn less because they get pregnant. By justifying wage inequality, Bolsonaro attacks both formally employed female labour and unpaid domestic labor, and normalizes the exploitation of the female work force.

If we remember Silvia Federici's argument about the development of capitalism, we will see that, since women were the producers and reproducers of the most essential commodity - the labor force - lowering the cost of labor production requires the use of maximum violence and war against women.

In this sense, when Bolsonaro’s vice presidential candidate, General Mourão, declares that families led by mothers and grandmothers are "misfit factories", the intimidating tone and deprecation of women intensifies.

Bolsonaro's speech thus feeds into regressive perspectives, as Harvard professor Bruno Carvalho observed. It has also yielded public outcomes.

After the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s new President Michel Temer assigned the stereotypical role of the housewife from the 1950s to women.

Yet, with the candidacy of Bolsonaro, this objectification reached a more drastic level, which, in its dehumanization, flirted with fascist impulses, or, going further back, resembled a medieval witch-hunt.

Bolsonaro’s supporters are nostalgic for the times in which the public spheres were restricted to only men, without discussion about equal rights and opportunities, and when there was no discussion of gender in schools and when women were overlooked by society.

In addition, the content of some websites and social media that support him evokes the dictatorial regime as a moral standard. They are nostalgic about the time in which basic liberties and freedoms were privileged to some individuals, whilst others against the system were tortured and silenced.

This shows us the fragility of Brazilian democracy. It opens up gaps that are exploited by Bolsonaro who is not shy about expressing his opinions in favor of torture, legalization of guns and a return to a dictatorial regime.

To give a final example, last week Bolsonaro supporters broke a plaque in honor of Marielle Franco, a black female, lesbian, human rights activist, born in the favela, who was barbarously executed in March this year.

This is a concerted act of violence against the memory of Marielle, who opposed hatred and symbolised another world: she gave black women and those who suffer the most from harassment, rape, low wages, domestic violence, and who constitute the greatest rejection of what Bolsonaro represents, a voice.

What Marielle represents is a vision of our resistance to exploitation and marginalization. Inspired by her and many other revolutionary women, the images that relies on (down)sizing women in this election campaign seems to have changed.

On 29 September, non-partisan demonstrations in at least 65 cities in Brazil displayed the strength of female political mobilization and its role in the anti-fascist resistance.

On 29 September, non-partisan demonstrations in at least 65 cities in Brazil displayed the strength of female political mobilization and its role in the anti-fascist resistance.

After all, it was up to these women, together with minorities, and the targets of violence propagated by Bolsonaro and his supporters.

Women, as well as vulnerable groups, are currently exploited and marginalised by the patriarchal and capitalist systems, whilst at the same time being a vital part of the functioning of this society.

This leads to women, as the second wave of feminism claims, to be in an exploited position, but the revolutionary class then accumulates knowledge that belongs only to themselves.

That is to say, being at the margins of an exploitative system allows the revolutionary class to oppose the existing forms of domination.

The main implication of taking this seriously is attached to the idea of the revolutionary class showing that (together with other vulnerable groups) we can change society.

This helps us clarify our potential and vital role in order to change unfair social norms that constitute fences, which should be torn down. Together, we can envision a better future for Brazil.   

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