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The Panorama of Feminism in Brazil
The women’s movement in Brazil—of which feminism is one aspect—has reflected the condition of women themselves, whose unity as a gender is cut across by other fundamental references (ethnicity, social class, etc.) and has above all been cross-class in character. [*] Its heterogeneous composition stems directly from specific features of Brazilian society, its strong internal pluralism and the broader political context in which it developed.  On the one hand, the marked inequality in the distribution of wealth and resources has created a modern, economically privileged sector open to innovation whose demand for material and cultural consumption is similar to that in any large city in the industrialized countries. On the other hand, the majority of the population, living in the urban periphery and rural areas, is excluded from the benefits of highly concentrated economic growth. To these very different realities correspond very different demands. In the urban periphery these concern the provision of basic needs: water, electricity, sewage, paved roads, health and education. The needy inhabitants of the major cities, although excluded from its comforts, are exposed to its modernity. They can make use of the networks of public services it offers. They are able, as residents, to demand access to its benefits. Changes in patterns of behaviour propelled by the most modern and privileged sectors thus have their impact upon the different urban groups, rich and poor, peripheral and central, and are adapted to the specific situations of each. Feminism began to find fertile ground among the urban middle sectors as a radical proposal to politicize the private, to rethink or reinvent the most fundamental relationships in the family, in daily life, in habits which had become ‘natural’. But it developed in accordance with local circumstances, becoming a movement with its own characteristics and seeking to take account of the varied situation of women in Brazil.
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