For a history of Matria Brazil

Dora Longo Bahia, Revoluções (calendar project), 2016 Acrylic, water-based pen and watercolor on paper (12 pieces), 23 x 30.5 cm each


The representativeness of the diversity of women in the history of this country is a respectful path against all types of violence

On the morning of November 7, 1822, in Lisbon, the newspaper The Brazilian in Coimbra he ended the editorial in favor of Brazil's break with Portugal with a letter from a girl from Bahia describing the struggles for independence in Salvador and a manifesto entitled “Brasileiras!”

One of the passages said: “Do I need to tell you that I took the example of this Bahian heroine? Of this Spartan? Show that you are not just sources of pleasures and delights! Show that you are equally sources of domestic virtues, civil virtues and patriotism! Thus you will exceed the men who unjustly call you passive beings. Be free if you want to be more beautiful! […] Without freedom, not only men, the fair sex and their charms are worthless!”

Until last year, the authorship of the newspaper and the manifesto was attributed to a man due to the content of political criticism and the fact that it was written in the first person: Cândido Ladislau Japiassú Figueredo de Mello, politician and friend of Dom Pedro I.

Two centuries later, we know that the manifesto is, in fact, authored by a 10-year-old Bahian girl named Urania Vanerius, who also wrote one of the most important pamphlets on the war for Brazil's independence in Bahia, published in February 1822, and later a translation of an American novel called Triumph of PatriotismIn 1827.

Using a man's identity was one of several strategies that women of the past used to occupy the public sphere and fight for rights. For this reason, they were persecuted, criticized, had their struggles questioned and erased from the history books.

The Bahian suffragist Leolinda Daltro, for example, was called the “devil's woman” in the Rio de Janeiro press in 1909 because she publicly defended women's right to political citizenship: to vote and be voted for.

Being called a witch and sorceress or being considered a woman with “demonic” powers were perverse strategies for criminalizing the political exercise of women in the past. This is the case of Anésia Cauaçu. In 1910, long before Lampião and Maria Bonita, she formed her band of cangaceiros to defend her family from the bloody attacks of a colonel from Jequié, in the interior of Bahia.

The conflicts took such a dimension that police troops were sent to capture her, dead or alive. The gang was defeated, but they said that Anésia managed to escape because she had the power to turn into a plant, as she told the newspaper. In the afternoonIn 1986.

Another strategy for erasing women in history is to diminish their struggles, attributing them to a relative, who can be a father, son, husband or lover. Leopoldina and Marquesa de Santos are good examples, but they are not the only ones.

Today, we know the story of teacher Celina Guimarães Viana, the first woman to vote in Latin America, in an election that became viable through a state law of 1927, in Mossoró, Rio Grande do Norte.

For a long time, this achievement was attributed to the political articulations of her husband, the lawyer Eliseu de Oliveira Viana. Soon after, however, the professor sent a telegram to the president of the Senate, asking that women's right to vote be recognized in the country.

Nationally, a woman's right to vote and be voted for was won in 1932 and recognized in the 1934 Constitution. However, in the Civil Code of 1916, a married woman could only have a job, travel, do banking and vote with her husband's authorization.

This guardianship only ended with the recognition of equal rights and duties between women and men in the 1988 Constitution, just 35 years ago.

Gender equality was an important milestone, but violence against girls and women continues to grow in Brazil. How can history help explain and reverse this?

First, ending the “ideological invisibility”, which tries to erase, silence and criminalize the struggles of women in the past. It was not for lack of sources that this happened, as the beginning of this article shows.

It is necessary to want to dialogue with the women of the past through other questions, including the original violence of the archives, historically constituted by white men and with the power to decide which subjects and documents would be discarded or preserved.

Then, highlighting the ways in which the differences and asymmetries that oppressed them were constructed and how they organized and fought against it: it is a gain for society, especially for men.

The representativeness of the diversity of women in the history of this country is a respectful path against all types of violence. Let's go together, together and together, to build a better future through a radical review of our past: a history of Mátria Brasil.

*Patricia Valim is a professor of history at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA). She is the author, among other books, of Bahia Conjuration of 1798 (EDUFBA).

Originally published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul.

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