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Women's Movements

Feminist And Feminine Movements In Brazil

Between 1964 and 1985, Brazil experienced repressive regimes and massive impoverishment along with the largest, most diverse, radical, and successful women's movement in Latin America (Alvarez 1990). Its success lay, in part, in addressing both strategic and practical gender interests. Strategic gender interests, such as overturning the gender division of labor, gaining control over one's own reproduction, and attaining legal and political equality, have emerged from various analyses of the roots of women's oppression. Health care, nutrition and shelter, potable water, and secure livelihoods, vital to the more immediate survival of women and their families, typify the practical gender interests that women would hesitate to sacrifice for more long-term strategic gender interests (Molyneux 1985). In Brazil, and Latin America generally, strategic gender interests inspire feminist movements, whereas feminine movements focus on practical gender interests (Alvarez 1990).

Mothers' Clubs, feminine movement organizations, called for childcare, health care, and affordable food and housing, and also for city services for their poor, mostly urban, neighborhoods. Middle-class, university-educated young women, including members of the militant opposition to the military government, and older professional women organized feminist movements around issues of economic discrimination against women workers, focusing their analyses on poor and working-class women.

As feminine and feminist movement organizations became increasingly militant, they created umbrella organizations for allied campaigns (e.g., the daycare movement). Feminine groups took up such issues as reproductive rights, domestic violence, sexuality, and family relations, first raised publicly by feminist groups. Both protested the crime-of-passion defense of men who had murdered their allegedly unfaithful wives.

The end of the authoritarian period in 1985 marked the beginning of antifeminist campaigns, such as opposition to women's reproductive rights and family planning. Nevertheless, women's movements continued to develop new forms, including organizations serving women's health, education, and legal needs; art and media groups; women's studies programs; women's labor union associations; and popular feminism, organized by poor and working-class women, to combine work on class and gender. Most recently, black women's organizations are challenging the interlocking oppressions of race, class, and gender oppressions. Many of these organizations participated in the first Black Women's Conference, held in Brazil in 1988 (Alvarez 1990).

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Social IssuesWomen's Movements - Feminist And Feminine Movements In Brazil, Civil Rights And Women's Movements In The United States