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Feminism and Racism

I'm a Law School student in UFG ( Universidade Federal de Goiás- Brazil), a history enthusiastic and a newly discovered writer.

The Feminist Movement in Brazil started to gain proportion in between the 70's and 80's. Before that time there were few conquests, like the right to vote in 1934.However, in 1964 a Dictatorship was established, making the feminist movement to lose its rush. Despite of that, women continued to articulate themselves, obtaining the right to Divorce in 1977, half of the agronomy and veterinary places in college. Although this conquests represents huge advance compared to what it was, it certainly left behind black women, indigenous women.Therefore, these women started their own path in Feminism. In 1959 the Conselho Nacional de Mulheres Negras ( National Council of Black Women) was created, in the 80's was the time for the Associação de Mulheres Indígenas ( Association of Indigenous Women) .

Even thought they were extremely important, these groups aren't even mentioned in courses, debates, classes, speeches given by feminist white women these days, showing that even inside a movement that was supposedly equal, there is oppression of color, race, culturality , having these white women the same prejudice created by not only a patriarchal structure, but also racist, homophobic, standardized structure, which made invisible the black, disable, elderly, lesbian,bisexual, trans, indigenous women .

The Feminist Movement nowadays have different faces, being a political behavior that fights against patriarchy, institutional racism, economic inequality, social rules. That said, it becomes clear that the problems white women had, such as not being able to vote, to divorce, to have a job without her husband approval, to attend college in academic level just like a men, didn't reached these other women. Due to slavery, black women weren't even considered as women. These women needed to be first recognized as women, just like the 18 century black political activist Sojourner Truth said " Ain't i a woman? ", so then they could have any rights to begin with. Despise being a single phrase, Sojourner demonstrated the huge difference between white women and black women.While one was trying to have more rights, the other was trying to start having rights.This is why we don't say that there is only one feminism, there are several feminisms, because there are several kinds of women facing different oppression.

In Brazil these types of feminism also emerged. Being a country with people from many places, there is a common thought that, since we have a big diversity, we don't have racial discrimination. However, in Brazil we also had slavery and, just like any other country that had some sort of racial discrimination in the past, the consequences of this period still remains. In regard to the black women, she suffered not only abuses because of the slavery system, she also had to face abuses such as sexual abuse due to a patriarchy system that , at the same time recognized her as a women to sexually assault her and not recognize as a women just like the white women in order to not promote the equality idea between black and white.

Among all the problems the black women has to face in Brazil ( lower payment, demonization of black religions , lack of recognition of their academic texts and researches, etc), one of them is the self recognition. The cult to the white women body created a inferior feeling in many black women, making not only them, but society as well, believe that they weren't beautiful or worthy of affection. This thinking, when associated with the beauty industry, creates a mindset that don't produce products made for the black people or, if there are, it's to "reduce" the blackness, such as whitening creams, makeup skills to make the nose look smaller, straightening hair techniques. The color foundation it's one of the most common problem. The normal thinking it's that national brands would take in consideration the fact that we have lots of different types skin here, so they would produce foundations with bigger rank of shades. But that's not what happens.If we go to the stores that has national brands, there would be up to 9 shades of color. In comparison, the brand created by Rihanna, Fenty Beauty, has 50 different shades.

Even thought it seems a very superficial matter in a political speech, we need to remind that we live in a society that values beauty. Therefore, the release of shades that contemplates almost every women it's a way to break the stereotype of beauty, the standard beauty. It demonstrates that a black women don't need to wear a lighter color to be pretty, she doesn't need to get " whiter " in order to belong, she can be pretty in her own skin tone.The recognition of the black beauty it's an important step in the fight against racism.

Another problem is the Justice System and Prison System. These systems, being created directly by this racist society, are unlikely to not disseminate the same prejudice. In Brazil it's, unfortunately, a universal truth that a black person has higher chances to get locked up for something that a white person wouldn't, for example the use of drugs. In theory it's forbidden, but it's not a crime, it's considered a minor offense, so no one would go to jail for that, they would receive other penalties such as a warning or would have to provide community service.The Law, however, didn't established the limit between the user and the smuggler, being the police the one who would decide. Being said, it's obvious who would be locked up and who wouldn't.

These color prejudice in the system also reaches the black women. Since the Drugs Law in 2006 the percentage of women incarcerated has risen 560%. The black women in jail corresponds to 68% of the total, and, what shocks the most it's that many women are arrested not because they were smuggling, but because they were the wifes, the girlfriends of smugglers, they haven't necessarily done anything, they were incarcerated simply because they knew these men.In jail another problem concerning the race it's the possibility of having your days in jail reduced by days of work and, the higher the schooling the easiest is the job given. Black women, when they have these possibility, they are given harder works than white women, exactly because they normally have lacks in education.

Having said some problems the black women face, it's now time to talk about another kind of feminism: the indigenous feminism. This is probably the least kind of feminism that it's debated outside the own group of indigenous women. The indigenous women feminism fights against the violence against women inside the tribes, but also fights against ranchers, farmers and big companies that destroys and steals indigenous lands. One of the biggest problem to feminist indigenous women it's that since indigenous people are somehow a " protected" race, the colonizer state doesn't apply the law to them, leaving most of legal problems for the tribe to resolve.Nevertheless, many indigenous tribes have the same patriarchal structure and, to make it worst, in indigenous tribes the women and girls have very little legal protection against rape, domestic violence and other things.These feminists are trying to show that, even thought they culture must be preserved, there are some situations that they need to have protection just like any women in Brazil, regardless being indigenous or not, instead of closing the eyes to the violence saying that it' s their culture.

The indigenous women suffers from a double oppression, perpetrated by the indigenous men and the colonizer men. They have to set themselves free from both patriarchal systems, what makes their fight as though as the black women, who also suffers from this double oppression, in their case caused by the black man and white man.

This two types of Feminism, that centers their speech specially in racial problems, shows that the anti-racism is an inseparable part of the Feminist Movement. Being anti-racist feminist it's not just reading or hearing the speech of other races, it's also recognize and debate the racial issue that exists inside the Feminist Movement as well, after all the only way to combat a problem it's to first acknowledge that there is a problem.

© 2021 Sofia de Souza Brito


MG Singh from UAE on March 03, 2021:

Very interesting write up on the state of affairs in Brazil.

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