Parties and protests

Women at Carnival protest Brazil’s chauvinist president with flair

Monica Benicio, ex-partner of council woman Marielle Franco, attends a Magueira performance at the Rio de Janeiro Carnival at Sambodromo. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Brazil’s iconic Carnival festival took on a decidedly political air this year as throngs of women engaged in colorful protests against rape, violence towards women, and the country’s blatantly chauvinist president Jair Bolsonaro.

At the festival, many women emblazoned their breasts and buttocks with messages such as “my body, my rules” or “no means no.” The face of late Rio de Janeiro councilor Marielle Franco, a black gay rights activist who was killed in an apparent assassination last year, was visible across the city on flags, stickers, and banners. The Mangueira Samba school paid tribute to the late politician in their championship-winning parade. And at a women-run street party called Calcinhas Bélicas (Warlike Knickers), festival goers were heard chanting Franco’s name.

“This year, Carnival has a completely new face,” said Franco’s widow, Monica Benicio. “Brazil’s feminist movement is one of the most organized in Latin America, and to see Marielle become a symbol of this is very emotional.”

“When Mangueira pays homage to her, when it highlights this woman, it is demanding justice,” added Rafaela Bastos, one of Mangueira’s top dancers.

Bolsonaro’s election — and his flagrant disgust for women’s rights and the LGBT community — had galvanized women across the country, many Carnival attendees said. Bolsonaro has also drawn condemnation for telling a female lawmaker he wouldn’t rape her because she didn’t “deserve” it.

One group of women protesters wore crop tops, pink shorts, and blonde wigs as they posed as “Barbie Fascists” — an ironic reference to the denunciations lobbed at feminists by Bolsonaro and his supporters.

“He is a threat to our rights,” said one Barbie, Priscila Rangel, as she stopped to pose for a photograph.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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