There are a lot of questions around the role of government right now — well, all the time, really.
But increasingly across the globe, the political conversation is focused on language, and the impact it can have when the words coming out of leaders’ mouths don’t match the kind of society we want to live in.
Such is the case in Brazil. The discussion of sexism has increased in the country ever since Jair Bolsonaro was elected president in 2018, thanks to his reputation for misogynistic comments.
In Marcella Fernandes and Andréa Martinelli’s article for HuffPost Brazil, they look at how senior members of the government have been talking about female-related matters while statistics show that violence against women is on the rise. And it’s pretty clear that the lack of attention to women’s issues is leaving its mark.
“I’ve covered politics since 2015, and there was always sexism from lots of congressmen,” Marcella told me. “People in positions of power now feel more comfortable saying what they think — it’s isn’t just in 2019, but I believe it’s increased in recent years.”
She wanted to write this piece because she sees just how serious a problem violence against women is in the country, and the lack of action on the part of the government. In some cases, ignoring the problem has even made it worse.
“Bolsonaro’s new laws that make it easier to have guns may increase the number of women killed by their partners, even if the minister responsible for public security denies it,” she points out.
The kind of “macho” talk that’s used by these men seeps into the public discourse, and Marcella wants people to understand that it’s not a joke or something to be taken lightly.
“It shows not only how the people in charge think, but also a lot of Brazilians. And the only way to reduce violence against women is if we change that mentality.”
The words we use matter, in all respects, and Marcella is choosing to make sure hers open up the conversation to ensure women in Brazil can live free of fear and in safety.
What we all want, really.
Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next week.
Violence against women in unquestionably a global problem, but it’s heartening to see the innovative ways people around the world are fighting. This photo exhibit in Italy very deliberately puts X-rays of women hurt in domestic situations right in a hospital waiting area — letting the other women who might be in the same position know they’re not alone, and that help is available.
There’s somewhat of an expectation that women will experience pain over the course of a pregnancy — but how do you know when it’s abnormal? And frankly, why is that even the case in the first place? These stories from India shine a light on a condition far too many women deal with in silence, thanks to a sense of decorum, duty and yes, a medical system that doesn’t prioritize their symptoms.
In case you missed it:
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.