At first, I was at a loss for what to write about for this month’s blog. So
many things had happened, yet there was always one idea I came back to.
This idea, however, was riddled with challenges that accompany writing
about issues from the perspective of an outsider in a country I call home
but do not know. But, as fireworks crackled and popped outside my window
announcing election results, déjà vu overwhelmed me. I am writing this blog
for me, for the women of Brasil, and for every other woman who lives in a
world of men, glass ceilings, and barriers
Dear Women of Brasil:
Tomorrow you will walk in a world, a system that has failed you again.
Tomorrow a man who has continually demeaned you will hold the highest
office in your country. Tomorrow you will live in heightened fear that your
already limited rights can be ripped away at any moment. I am sorry.
Please, take this time to process, to mourn, to cry, to scream, because,
tomorrow, you will have to fight. You will have to fight against a system
where you are designed to struggle and fail. You will have to fight to
maintain basic rights and safeties. You will have to fight to simply exist
in a world that belongs to powerful men. And while I can not comprehend the
full scope of your loss, I do understand what it is like to be constantly
disappointed in your government. I understand what it is like to sit in the
darkness of night with tears streaming down your face as election results
come in. I understand what it is like to watch a man be confirmed to the
Supreme Court despite his countless violations against women. I understand
what it is like to live knowing your voice will always carry half the
weight of a man’s.
Living in the U.S., you are taught that everyone is entitled to “Life,
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, but these “guaranteed” liberties
come with conditions: white, Christian, male, cis, straight, and rich. For
everyone else who does not meet these conditions, please be happy with
table scraps. You are taught that you can be anything you want, but no one
teaches you that you’ll probably never get there; the ever-imposing glass
ceiling will see to that. You are taught you live in the greatest country
in the world, an example of human triumph and democracy, yet it feels that
your basic human rights are under attack. Living in the U.S., you learn
about how backward “developing” countries treatment of women is. You learn
about oppression in the Middle East, sexual slavery in Eastern Europe, and
the rampant machismo culture in Latin America. So, I have to admit, when I
arrived in Brasil, I expected to be greeted with sexism around every
corner. I expected a culture shock surrounded by machismo, but the culture
shock never came. This is not because machismo culture does not exist here.
It does. One in every three women in Brasil are victims of femicide, crimes
related directly to being female. The culture shock never came because the
U.S. holds women with the same disregard as Brasil. One in every five women
will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and the U.S. is considered
the 10th most dangerous country in the world for women by the Thomson
Reuters Foundation. The culture shock never came because gender inequality
is not sequestered to the “Global South” but rather infects every country
and every system in the world, and the U.S. is no exception.
So, women of Brasil, when you wake up tomorrow in a country with a leader
who spouts hateful rhetoric, know that you are not alone. Know that your
anger and frustration will not go unheard. Know that all the rage you feel
will not go unanswered. Know that you are not helpless. Know that women all
over the world support you because the only people that can save us, are
us. When one voice is stifled, a thousand more will rise up chanting #elenão.
We may exist in a world where the word of Trumps, Kavanaughs, and
Bolsonaros are law, but one day we will shatter the glass ceiling. Women of
Brasil, sharpen the tools of your resistance and prepare for battle knowing
the women of the world stand behind you.
A Fellow Woman