Feminism a Strong Contender in Rio Olympics
Brazilian journalist Nana Querioz will bring feminism to the Olympics in Rio.
Brazilian journalist Nana Querioz recently penned an essay for the UK version of Refinery29 explaining why this year’s Olympics in Rio are going to be the most feminist Olympics yet.
Queiroz also wrote”Inmates Who Menstruate,” a look at the female population in Brazilian prisons, and is founder and CEO of AzMina, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting feminist issues and empowerment through investigative journalism, culture and art.
“I was truly enraged by the way the Brazilian government spent money on things that were more cosmetic than long-term improvements to be enjoyed by the Brazilian people, such as solid public transportation and improvements to public hospitals. I was terrified with the rise in child sexual exploitation and the forced removals of poor people. I was mad with the way we were marketing Brazilian women as sexual objects.
“But this year, I am facing the Olympic Games with a different perspective and I will tell you why: We, Brazilian women, are planning to make this a feminist Olympics!”
Fueled by the frustration of the indulgent 2014 World Cup, the women’s movement in Brazil has been dubbed the “Women’s Spring,” a play on the Arab Spring, which began in December 2010 with the Tunisian Revolution and spread throughout the region.
Led by women and youth, the Women’s Spring movement gained footing across social media, particularly with hashtags like #MyFirstHarassment and #IDon’tDeserveToBeRaped. Building upon the existing feminist movement in Brazil, young revolutionaries helped get folks into the streets demonstrating.
“We are reaching the Olympics with the level of maturity that finally gives us not only the institutions and leadership necessary to make change happen, but the numbers,” Queiroz says of the movement’s evolution. She further explains, “Women have historically been denied attention in the sporting world, but the Rio Games are so far showing promising signs that we’ll be placed at the forefront — that we’ll be made the protagonists.
“Juliana de Faria, founder and director of Think Olga, a feminist think tank that has helped boost the Women’s Spring, was invited to carry the Olympic torch with Maria da Penha, an iconic figure in our country’s fight against domestic violence.”
Along with the torch, de Faria and da Penha carried the womens’ rights flag — the same day that Brazilian rapper MC Biel was booted from the duty because he had sexually harassed a female-identified reporter.
Another feminist, 23-year-old Afro-Brazilian Stephanie Ribeiro, speaks of a symbolic impact in Queiroz’s Refinery29 essay:
“We will not actually see transformation happening in these games, but at least we will have more power to fight for the leading narrative. We will not take it easily if female athletes (especially Black ones, such as Serena Williams) do not get media attention. We will not take it lightly if tourists decide to touch us without permission.”
She adds, “During the World Cup, the amount of harassment that I experienced in the streets tripled. Worse: The government and media were selling the idea that Brazilian women are easy objects to be used, a kind of touristic attraction. We will not take it anymore.”
Sex workers have rallied along with other feminists from all walks of life, demanding safety and protection. The effect of the movement has verifiable numbers, too. Carnival 2016 had 174 percent more women who went to the police with harassment reports than after the 2015 celebration. There is now an emergency number, 180, for women to dial when they are being attacked or harassed.
The hotline came as a result of hard work to make Brazil safer for all women. Every eleven minutes, a woman is raped in Brazil, and the odds increase with poverty and melanin. With the highest rate of violence in the world against trans people, particularly women and femmes, the average life expectancy is a mere 30 years old (according to the NGO Transgender Europe.)
Related: Why Trans Suicides are Also Murders
Nana Queiroz wants everyone to know that Brazilian women are no longer silent and will be respected. “Let everyone know that abuse will not go unpunished. Yes, we are beautiful, powerful, and political, but we are ready to blow the whistle on you, too.”
The Olympics will just be a more visible platform for the fight, with some media outlets backing them by sending more women to cover the games such as UOL. It’s a long road, but this is an excellent place to boost the signal. We see you and support you.[adsense1]