As polling stations in Brazil closed last Sunday following the country’s presidential election, many Brazilian women started replacing their social-media profile photos with a simple black square. Some included the word luto, which is Portuguese for “mourning”: Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right former military officer who made virulent attacks against blacks, minorities, and women, would be their next president.
Bolsonaro, who has five children, has said that his only daughter was born due to his wife’s “weakness.” He has said that women should be paid lower salaries because they get pregnant, and should stop “whining” about femicide. In widely circulated remarks that led to charges against him in the Supreme Court, he said that he wouldn’t rape a congresswoman because she was “ugly.”
The word luto, however, also translate as “I fight.” And that is what women who oppose Bolsonaro have decided to do. “There is no time for lamenting,” said Ludmilla Teixeira, a 36-year-old who works in advertising and founded Women Against Bolsonaro, a Facebook group with 3.8 million members. “We will fight back.”
In Brazil, Latin America’s largest democracy, women represent 52.5 percent of the electorate. But while it has already had a female president, it remains a deeply patriarchal country. Women were given the right to vote in 1932, a lot later than in much of the rest of the world, and feminist movements were restricted from organizing during the country’s military dictatorship. Today, just 15 percent of federal and state legislators are women—an all-time high.