Invisible women

Folha forgot about women when it published an article focusing on the work-life of men during the pandemic

The pandemic has shown and accentuated inequalities of all types, but a Folha article published on Tuesday (12) failed to realize this.

The article highlighted the routine of remote work through interviews with professionals who "work between lives, videoconferences and care for the home and children to keep up with the work and the progress of the proceedings."

For the article, he interviewed a higher court judge, a federal judge, one of the wealthiest lawyers in Brazil, and a public prosecutor.

According to the article, these professionals work in well-organized offices somewhere in their own homes. They are able, in addition to performing their duties, to exercise, read, watch series and drink many bottles of wine.

What woman would have time for that? We wouldn't know. The article featured four men, only one of whom seems to have to deal with small children and housekeeping.

Que mulher teria tempo para isso? Não sabemos. A reportagem ouviu quatro homens, sendo que apenas um deles parece ter de lidar com filhos pequenos e cuidados com a casa.

It is curious that we still only think of men in some areas, and it is possible to say that the media has a lot to do with this. It contributes to building this imaginary.

Figures from the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) show that, of the total 1.2 million lawyers registered with the body, half (49.7%) are women.

Some of them reacted to the story.
"Folha believes that the world of law is masculine. Impressive! Material that only shows men of law in times of the pandemic and should show the burden that affects women. It is no use doing a story on Women's Day and spending the year reproducing the violations," said one female judge.

"In addition to not saying what it came from, the article ignores the country's actual reality. It is not possible that, in May 2020, a journalist would survey only male professionals, disregarding the proportion of women who work and who have to contribute for news about working at home, "said another reader.

In reaction to the text, 346 women legal professionals signed a manifesto. The document says that it is unacceptable for a newspaper, with the editorial principles that Folha works under, to publish a report that disregards both the female issue and the economic reality of the overwhelming majority of legal operators in Brazil.

Even if the intention was to do a more glamorous story, it is obvious that women could have been interviewed (although the idea does not seem to fit well in a Power section editorial). There are also examples of other, much more comprehensive texts.

However, the perplexity of the article comes not only from the invisibility of women on the pages of widely circulated newspapers (in which the sources, especially in areas such as politics and the economy, are still mainly men) but also because they are not being featured at a particular time.

During the pandemic, isolated with their families, these women realize that the proclaimed female independence in the Brazilian middle classes is based on a fragile balance, supported by an extensive group of domestic workers and nannies.

Without these other women at their disposal, what emerges from family relationships is the realization that, despite their professional and financial success, they are once again responsible for providing lunch, or checking whether the bathroom is clean. Garbage needs to be collected — even if they delegate one task or another to men. Not to mention child care.

With the pandemic, this "emancipated" woman realized that she not only returned to being the "queen of the home" but felt that Folha replaced her in that role — who, to talk about the routine of the home office, chose to hear who "produces."

Folha tried to reverse the situation the next day by publishing an article that focused on the criticisms received in the manifesto - a short text in which no one was interviewed.

Reporter Wálter Nunes acknowledges that the criticisms are fair. "I did not establish a criterion to listen only to men, but it happened in the end. It is important to see this episode as an opportunity for reflection and learning," he said.
In a perhaps unprecedented effort among the most widely circulated publications, Folha has committed to providing the reader with a diversity of voices. It even created an editorial section just for that, but it still makes mistakes.

In the past few weeks, for example, the newspaper has produced a story about haircuts for men forgetting curly hair, reduced further the tiny list of columnists outside the "bubble" of the middle classes, and now ignores women, legal professionals.

Because it represents society, the media reinforces, often in an unthinking way, the macho, racist, homophobic, and elitist Brazilian imaginary. It will take much more than saying it is different in the effort to turn that image around.

Flavia Lima

A Reporter specializing in economics, she graduated in social sciences from USP and in law from Mackenzie. She has been the ombudsman for Folha since May 2019.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon