“Beautiful, maidenlike and a housewife”

Gender in the Rise of the Far Right in Brazil

  • Douglas R. Knupp Sanque
Keywords: gender, impeachment, chronotope, identities, far-right, fascism


The last six years in Brazilian politics have been defined by tense polarization. Such polarization reached its peak during the impeachment process that removed former President Dilma Rousseff from office, often characterized by commentators as social, political and even affective turn in the country. Ample media discussions were held regarding corruption, nationalism, unemployment, inflation and even communism. Another important issue, however, related to the impeachment process is that of gender, which has not deserved the same attention, especially in mainstream media. During the course of the impeachment, a magazine article received wide public attention: “Marcela Temer: bela, recatada e do lar” [“Marcela Temer: beautiful, maidenlike and ‘a housewife’”] was published by Veja magazine on April 18, 2016, featuring Brazil’s then-future first lady, and circulated intensively on the Web. Against this backdrop, this paper analyzes the aforementioned article by tracking its trajectory online and by investigating how femininity is (re)performed at each entextualization until the campaign period in 2018. Partial results show that the figure of personhood projected for women by Veja is sharply contrasted with the one projected onto Ms Rousseff. Such figure of personhood was later picked up by right-wing extremists, who blatantly reject gender equality and emphasize the role of women in the private sphere. I argue that such conservative view of gender helped discursively construct Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment in 2016 and was later integrated into the complex neofascist politics which elected Jair Bolsonaro President of Brazil.