Brazilian Version Of MeToo Sparks Nationwide Conversation
Following the beginning of the #MeToo movement which kicked off in North America last year with the Harvey Weinstein accusations, women in Brazil created the Brazilian version of MeToo.
People started having nationwide discussions in Brazil regarding what is appropriate conduct. As well as what to do about sexual harassment in the workplace.
The movement in the Latin American country created controversy again when a woman looking to get a job under the mayor, Armando Ross, secretly recorded an encounter between herself and the politician.
In the recording, Armando insinuated that she would need to have sex with him at his house while the maid was gone for the day.
Nao-me-Toque Mayor Armando Ross
Ross says in the recording, “It has to be next week – before you can start the job.”
Following the media attention, women’s groups are looking to establish clear boundaries. As well as punitive methods, so this kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore.
However, in the Portuguese-speaking country, it’s a different situation because their culture is already fairly “touchy,” so to speak.
In response to #MeToo, there was backlash similar to North America. Especially because of the fact that being intimate, warm, and affectionate is a part of Brazilian culture.
Does #MeToo Ruin Brazilian Culture?
Critics have accused the movement of trying to diminish or ruin what it means to be Brazilian.
One publication, Veja, ran a story about sexual harassment. In it, they stated that feminist groups were attempting to get rid of “normal interactions.”
Common circumstances include offering personal favors, hugs, kisses, and other gestures.
The issue is perhaps even more complicated in the nation where people often kiss “hello,” similar to the French or Montrealers.
Moreover, it’s not uncommon for text message exchanges to end with words for “kisses,” “hugs,” in addition to joking around about each other’s personal lives.
#MeToo Movement Has Different Implications In Brazil
To North Americans, this sort of thing is totally off limits between co-workers. A “kisses” gesture to a female cohort would easily end in a visit to the HR department. And possibly even a sexual harassment charge.
According to a report from The Globe And Mail, Ana Bon, a woman who works for the Estacio De Sa University in Rio, claimed that between people there is a “greater closeness,” and it’s typical of their behavior.
However, like everywhere else, Brazilians draw clear lines between what they consider immoral, offensive, unjust, or a violation.
Bon claimed that, personally, her struggle with harassment in the workplace has been a long one. Considering she was often the only woman in the office of a technology company.
Men would often suggest she grab coffee for everyone in the room, touch her too much, or comment on her appearance.
The “Whistle-Blower” Effect
However, because of the “whistle-blower” effect – the one where the accuser gets into the most trouble because it appears as though they created the problem – most women choose to say nothing.
But not all of them stay silent. In 2016, police noticed a massive increase of around 26 percent in sexual harassment charges. Professor Andrade claims the #MeToo movement has led to the growth of the conversation. And younger women are more insistent on what kind of behavior they’re not willing to tolerate.
Now, large companies have a person that women can speak to. And they also have social media platforms where they can complain instantly. Due to the possible damage inflicted on an organization’s reputation, executives try and deal with the issue immediately.
Sexual Harassment Is Bad For Business
Because of the potential blowback from the media and the public, companies are quick to rectify perceived wrongs for fear of their organization making it to the top of the headlines.
Whether the public thinks they are “easy” on those guilty of sexual harassment affects the profit margins of the company.
However, there are problems with the movement picking up steam. According to Andrade, some of the problems include the fact that consent and conduct seminars aren’t mandatory.
Typically, the only people present at such meetings are usually women. The Globe and Mail reported that Vanessa Rodrigues, a 27-year-old photographer, complained of sexual harassment last year and complained to her employer as well as the police. But she found herself out of a job as a result and permanently ostracized.
According to the woman, a man once commented on her appearance while standing next to her by the camera. And at a later date, while she slept in the house dedicated to the use of crew members, she awoke to find the man masturbating next to her while pressing his body against hers.
After she complained, rather than executives removing him from the set, he smeared her reputation all over social media and they fired her because of it.
Blame the Victim Or Blame The Accused
When she went to get a job somewhere else, they told her interviewers told her they wouldn’t hire her because she has the reputation as a “troublemaker.”
The police also told the woman she should’ve filed a complaint “within an hour.”
Valdirene Silva De Assis, a woman who works for a federal prosecution team on labor issues, said society and governments punish the victims rather than the harassers.
Critics Say That Accusers Should Handle The Matter Personally
However, on the other hand, some have called attention to the fact that such situations should be handled personally. And at the moment of their occurrence, rather than through HR departments and the police.
Accusers often forget that complaints to HR departments, labor unions, and especially the police, bring a lot of work, headaches, potential fines, and problems for a business that may already be struggling.
Moreover, critics claim that government bureaucrats often muddy the process. And turn small problems into melodramas for the sake of justifying their own existence.
In cases where the police are involved, the business has to undergo an investigation, taking valuable time to deal with an issue that could’ve been dealt with personally.
Some have called for women to learn how to enforce clear boundaries better.
For some of the accused, they don’t understand that they may be overstepping a line or making a woman uncomfortable. And a statement which draws the line could’ve avoided investigations from the police; paperwork, fines, and headaches in the workplace, where the business is already dealing with many other problems.
Will #MeToo “ruin” Brazilian culture? And how should we go about handling boundary issues in the workplace? Feel free to comment in the section below.