#NotHim: Brazilian women unite against the “Trump of the Tropics”
On October 7, Brazil will hold the first of two potential rounds of elections for president. On that day, the country will face a threat similar to the one posed in the United States in 2016. Like Trump, the current front-runner, Jair Bolsonaro, is a white, far-right-wing candidate who symbolizes a great threat to women and democracy in the country. He has been called the “Trump of the Tropics” due to making comments such as that women should not earn as much as men and that he is pro-dictatorships. He has made racist statements regarding slavery as well as homophobic affirmations, and was even charged by Brazil’s attorney general with inciting hate, for which he is required to pay a fine of 50,000 reais, or around $8,000, to black communities. In fact, Bolsonaro is currently hospitalized, stable after having been stabbed in the beginning of September by a man that didn’t agree with his political views.
Unlike Trump, however, Bolsonaro does have experience in politics, although that experience is relatively dismal: Over the course of his 27 years in office, he has had only two legislative bills approved. His plans for how he’ll govern as president are still unclear; thus far he has appointed advisors for policy areas like the economy, but he hasn’t publicly stated his actual positions. Bolsonaro is known for dodging questions about policy from reporters, pivoting to attack other candidates and media outlets rather than answer. He has been clear about one of his wishes for the country, though: He wants less regulation for buying firearms.
Yet despite all this, according to the latest Datafolha poll, 28 percent of Brazilians intend to vote for Bolsonaro. The second runner-up, Fernando Haddad of the Workers Party (PT) — the nominee supported by former presidents Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — only has 16 percent. Of course, to win the primary altogether and move on to the general election, a candidate has to win over 51 percent of all votes in the country, so it appears that even Bolsonaro will have to move to a second round of voting on October 28, at which point he’ll likely face off against Haddad.
Brazilian women are hardly accepting Bolsonaro’s current lead, however. At the end of September, an anonymous group of women showed their repudiation of the candidate by creating a Facebook group called “Women United Against Bolsonaro” and posting using the hashtag #NotHim. Members of the group and users of the hashtag — which to date has over 3.8 million members and 335,000 tagged posts on Instagram — include a number of Brazilian celebrities as well as international ones, like Madonna, Cher, Dua Lipa, and Nicole Scherzinger.
Although the group has been hacked several times, and one of the creators was identified and then attacked on the street, the women behind the #NotHim movement persisted and decided to take their online activism to the streets. On September 29, thousands of Brazilians marched in their own cities — the biggest ones being São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro — as well as in other cities abroad, like New York, Lisbon, Paris, and London. Many attendees wore T-shirts and stickers with slogans related to the campaign, and sang a parody of the Italian song “Bella Ciao,” which was a symbol of the Italian resistance to fascism. In a BBC analysis, academic Céli Regina Jardim Pinto called the protests the biggest rally led by women in Brazil’s history.
This activism could very well impact the turnout of the upcoming election, as women account for 52 percent of Brazilians polled and voting is mandatory for all Brazilian citizens between 18 and 70 years old. While 28 percent of Brazilians may have polled with an intention to vote for Bolsonaro, the latest Ibope poll suggests that his rejection numbers are rising among women, 50 percent of whom said they would never vote for the candidate while only 33 percent of men said the same.
Should the #NotHim campaign succeed, Fernando Haddad, the current runner-up to Bolsonaro in polls, will likely be in close competition for the presidency with Ciro Gomes, who has 13 percent of intended votes, according to Datafolha. Unfortunately, the female candidates in the race aren’t doing so well: Marina Silva, who is running for the third time, polls at 7 percent, and Vera Lucia, on her first run, is at 1 percent. Any of these candidates would offer better solutions for keeping Brazil, which has a young political system that was only just restored in 1985 after 20 years of military dictatorship, a democratic country. We need to vote for a president who won’t accept prejudice, racism, sexism, or hate speech. We need to vote for anyone other than Bolsonaro.
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