Propositive mobilizations

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By Angelita Matos Souza*

The bet is on the convincing power of Let's all be social democrats, including as a way to advance the Let's all be feminists in the liberal-identitarian direction

At the end of September 2018, in several cities in Brazil, demonstrators took to the streets in response to the call “Ele Não”. The demonstrations organized by women, with a mostly female audience, were happy and expressive, but polls on voting intentions carried out afterwards showed the growth of voting intentions among women for the candidate Jair Bolsonaro. On social media, some pointed out that the “women’s march” spurred the advance of the far-right candidate in the elections.

I have no idea if the correlation is relevant, however I suspect that propositional mobilizations tend to be politically more interesting. From this perspective, the negative and personalized character of #EleNão may have been counterproductive, an affirmative call would probably be more attractive, which instead of targeting the candidate, now president, focused on social protection, avoiding controversial agendas.

More daycare centers, less decriminalization of abortion! It is provocation, but the hypothesis to be considered is that perhaps we are in such a disadvantageous situation that it would be better to take a step forward, take two steps back and embrace feminist propositions without speaking of feminism, rejected by the rising conservative movements in the country, as shown by research on the matter.

 Antipathy certainly related to the fact that the social dimension of feminist studies has been muffled by the more liberal guidelines of identity movements, which obscure the relationship of complementarity and contradiction between the spheres of economic production and that of social reproduction. That is, a good part of the research and bibliographical production in the field of feminist studies denounces the amount of time and resources destined to produce people (the workforce), through activities mainly carried out by women, activities that are often unpaid, associated with the world of care/affections, as opposed to the sphere of economic production, unfeasible without the sphere of social reproduction.

Contradictorily, condition subordinated to the economic logic, of production of goods & financial accumulation. The injustice implicit in this hierarchy becomes even more dramatic in a moment of crisis like the one we are going through, which heightens the need for social protection. In addition to showing, if anyone is still unaware of this, that it is primarily up to women to take care of the family, at the same time that many have to reconcile this responsibility with the situation of the workforce in the market, with female work being dominant in the outsourcing of care, in the private sector, mainly domestic, and in public social assistance services.

Duplication (or double journey) that predisposes women to social-democratic political positions. The defense of quality social services has the potential to attract both working-class women dependent on these services and those from the middle strata, as it would provide income gains if expenses with education and medical assistance are subtracted. A flag of feminist movements, but perhaps the best thing is to defend the supply and quality of public services, in addition to minimum income, without speaking openly about feminism. The objective of winning votes for the progressive field would justify obfuscating guidelines dear to feminist movements, such as decision-making autonomy over one's own body.

To conclude, is it worth asking about the chances of a peripheral and dependent country like Brazil becoming an advanced social democracy? Everything indicates that they are scarce, however some conquests are always possible and the demand for assistance has a greater potential for exacerbating the contradictions in favor of the progressive field. The bet is on the convincing power of Let's all be social democrats, including as a way to advance the Let's all be feminists in the liberal-identitarian direction.

*Angelita Matos Souza is a professor at the Institute of Geosciences and Exact Sciences at Unesp.

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