Artículo de investigación.

Critical analysis of the discourse on Judith Butler´s visit to the country in the most popular online news portals.

Análisis crítico del discurso sobre la visita de Judith Butler al país a través de los portales más populares.

Quem tem medo ao feminism no Brasil? Análise crítica do discurso da visita da Judith Butler ao país através dos portais mais populares.

Katia Maria Belisario
PhD in Journalism and Society, Universidade de Brasília – UnB; Professor of the Faculty of Communication at the Universidade de Brasília, Brazil.

Kaitlynn Menders
PhD in Journalism Studies, Cardiff University;  Associated Professor  in Media and Communication at University of Leicester, UK.

ISSN: 1692-5688 | eISSN: 2590-8057
Recibido: 17 de septiembre de 2018
Aceptado: 25 de abril de 2019
Publicado: 12 de diciembre de 2019

Cómo citar: Belisario, K., & Meners,  K. (2019).  Critical analysis of the  discourse on Judith Butler´s visit  to the  cotry in the most popular online news portals. MEDIACIONES, 15(23),  91-106. mediaciones.15.23.2019.91-106.

Conflicto de intereses: los autores han declarado que no existen intereses en competencia.


In  November 2017,  feminist theorist Judith Butler travelled to Brazil to  participate in  an international conference. During the event,  protesters  gathered,  carrying  signs, chanting  slogans, and burning an effigy  of her while shouting, “Burn the  witch!” According to media reports, these protesters wanted to preserve notions of the  traditional nuclear family within Brazil and protect children  against  Butler’s  “diabolical gender  ideology”, which includes her theory that gender is a social construct and a cultural interpretation  that  overlaps with biological determinism.  The protest attracted mainstream media attention. This article aims to identify the  key  discourses used by anti- and pro-Butler activists commenting in  the  most popular news portals in  the  country, UOL and G1. The questions guiding this study are: 1) How  is feminism represented in  Brazil? 2) How  do  protesters and counter-protesters understand and argue about “gender ideology”? The methodology used is the critical discourse analysis of online comments of readers of both portals.

Keywords: Gender, Feminism, Judith Butler, Discourse Analysis, Brazil.


En noviembre de 2017, la feminista Judith Butler viajó a Brasil para participar en  una conferencia internacional. Durante el evento, manifestantes se reunieron, portando letreros, cantando y  quemando una efigie  de  ella  mientras gritaban “¡quemen a la  bruja!” Según los  medios de  comunicación, querían preservar la familia tradicional en  Brasil y proteger a los niños de  la “ideología diabólica de  género” de  Butler de que el género es una construcción social y una interpretación cultural que se  solapan con   el  determinismo  biológico. La protesta atrajo la  atención de  los  medios. Este  artículo tiene como objetivo identificar discursos anti y  pro-Butler en  los portales UOL y G1, los más populares del  país. Las preguntas de  búsqueda son:  1) ¿Cuáles son  les argumentos de  los manifestantes; 2)  Cuál  es  su  comprensión de  la  “ideología de  género? La metodología utilizada es  el análisis crítico del discurso de los comentarios de los lectores en los dos portales.

Palabras-Clave: Género, Feminismo, Judith Butler, Análisis del Discurso, Brasil.


Em novembro de 2017, a feminista Judith Butler viajou ao Brasil para participar de  uma conferência internacional. Duranteo evento, manifestantes se reuniram, carregando faixas, slogans e queimando uma efígie dela, gritando “Queimem a bruxa!” Segundo a mídia, eles  queriam preserver a família tradicional no Brasil e proteger as crianças contra a “ideologia diabólica de gênero” de Butler, de que o gênero é uma construção social e uma interpretação cultural, que se sobrepõe ao determinismo biológico. O protesto atraiu a atenção da  mídia. Este  artigo objetiva identificar os  principais discursos anti e  pro-Butler nos  portais UOL e G1, os mais populares do país. As perguntas são:  1) Quais são  as argumentações dos  manifestantes a favor e contra, e qual a compreensão da  “ideologia do  género”?; 2) A metodologia utilizada é  a análise crítica do  discurso dos comentários on-line dos  leitores dos  dois  portais.

Palavras-Chave: Gênero, Feminismo, Judith Butler, Análise do Discurso, Brasil.


Miguel (2016)  argues that reactions to gender equality cut  across many fields and government policies; however, the  main concern of conservatives is with education and, to  a lesser extent, mass media.

According to  Almeida and  Cremona (2019),   the  launch of  the book La  ideologia de  género o  el género como herramienta de poder by  the Argentinian pro-life lawyer Jorge Scala, in  2010, is a milestone in the  implementation of the term “gender ideology” in  South America. According to the authors, this term is aligned with dogmatic ideas of  religious ultraconservatives,  of  which one major exponent is  Joseph Ratzinger, a cardinal very close to Pope John Paul VI, who has been responsible for  ensuring the orthodoxy of the  Catholic faith from 1980  until the  beginning of his  own Pontificate  (2005–2013, as  Pope Benedict XVI), when he strongly instituted his own orientation within the  church.

It  was in this context that the  philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler came to Sao Paulo in 2017  to speak at a conference about the   end of democracy. An  online petition to  cancel the conference gathered  the   signatures of  over  370,000 Brazilian citizens even before Butler had arrived. During the conference, a group of protesters burned an effigy  of Butler, saying she  was a witch. This  event generated significant mainstream media attention in  Brazil and sparked a range of debates in the  media, including  in   online  news  outlets. Even after  the   conference ended, protesters followed Butler and her partner to the airport, insisting that she was not welcome in Brazil and must return home with her  “diabolical gender  ideology”. Butler explained: “the people who oppose me  believe gender is a diabolical ideology” (Johnson, 2017),  to  which she countered that there is  no  single gender ideology, claiming that the  question is more complex. She also  emphasized that she had gone to  the  conference to  discuss populism, authoritarianism, and concerns about the  attack on democracy; no lecture about gender was planned.

This  study conducts a critical discourse analysis of five news articles in  the  two  most popular Brazilian portals, UOL and G1, as  well as  154 comments on  these articles. On  the  basis of this analysis, we  argue that we can see  the  emergence in  Brazil of conservative ideologies regarding family and gender.

2.The “Gender ideology” of Judith Butler

Judith Butler is an American philosopher and gender theorist and a professor of Comparative Literature and Rhetoric at the University of  Berkeley, California. Her   theory on  the   social and performative nature of gender became very popular in the  1990s. These days her work is often misunderstood, and people with conservative and traditional values wrongly refer to  her as  the   creator of  “gender ideology” or  a “diabolical gender ideology”. Butler is one of the  major modern theorists of  feminism, politics, ethics, and  queer  theory.  According to  her, queer theory suggests that a person should not   be identified only on  the  basis of  gender. Instead, she  argues, people have multiple elements to  their personalities which form their identity. Thus, referring  generally to  a group is wrong, since it does not  take adequate account of individual difference (Butler, 1990).

Butler argues that feminist theories limit themselves by accepting a concept of gender that reduces it to masculinity and femininity. She  refuses to  accept certain stereotyped notions of  sexuality as  norms and questions the  belief that gendered behaviours are natural. In Butler´s view, gender is culturally formed and performative: “We  act  and walk and speak and talk  in ways that consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman” (Butler, 2011).

So, in  her view, “gender is the  mechanism by  which notions of masculine and feminine are produced and naturalized, but gender might very well be the  apparatus by which such terms are deconstructed and denaturalized” (Butler, 2004, p. 43).

3.Understanding the brazilian context

In  2016,  the  first female elected president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached, accused of  illegally moving funds between government budgets. She denied having done anything illegal, but the  senate voted to suspend Rousseff and launch an impeachment trial against her. Rousseff accused her enemies of pre-empting the  next presidential election by removing her. The politicians who backed Rousseff ’s impeachment are under investigation for  corruption, and now all parties seem tainted by  the  allegations. Critics accused the  president of  trying to plug deficit-holes in  social programmes to boost her chances of being re-elected in October 2014.  Brazilians feminists used social media to express their solidarity with Rousseff during what they saw as a sexist and discriminatory impeachment.

The  unpopular  and conservative vice-president Michel Temer became the   acting president. His  policies have reversed gains made in  the  areas of  sustainability and minority rights. Under Temer,  politicians voted against environmental  achievements that had been on  the  books for  decades and in  favour of criminalizing abortions in  cases of rape. They  also  excluded sexuality and gender issues from the  Nation Education Plan. Feminists continue to denounce the  attacks by  Temer, currently president, on  women´s rights. In  this context, the  country has become divided into two   main groups: 1)  left-wing defenders of  social movements, political activism, women’s and minority rights,  diversity,  land  reforms,  sustainability,  and  socialism; and 2) right-wing conservatives, traditionally promoting big farmers, religious values, heterosexualism, military intervention, privatization, and neoliberalism.

The  conservative, traditional group is  now agitating for  the preservation of Christian values, the  traditional nuclear family, and the  free market. The government, having already excluded gender and sexuality issues from the  National Education Plan, also  voices strong opposition to  liberal social ideologies such as efforts at gender equality and women’s reproductive rights. In September 2017,  an art exhibition called “Queer  Museum” that questioned sexuality and religion was cancelled after protests in the  social media.

According to  Almeida and Cremona (2019),  a project that seeks to  remove the gender problem in  schools is consistent with the dramatic situation of  violence and discrimination in  Brazil. To Junqueira  (2018),it is  an initiative around which various social sectors can meet for different purposes, and particularly those with anti-political conceptions that are said to be non-ideological or anti-ideological.

In  fact,   a right-wing government has now risen to  power in Brazil. The  country recently elected (in  October 2018)  a far-right president named Jair   Messias Bolsonaro who has  expressed support for  torturers and is “known for  lashing out  at women, minorities and indigenous groups” (The  Guardian, 29 Oct, 2018). Bolsonaro´s administration is “a  return to  a time of insecurity, with certainty about what a man is and what a woman is and a clear sense who is in charge of the public sphere and the  family” (Brum, 2019).

Meanwhile,  protests  against so-called  “gender  ideology” are increasing, not  only in  Brazil, but elsewhere. The  narratives are the   same all  across Latin America, with consequences for minorities, as Bessa points out:

As  right-wing governments  increasingly rise  to   power in Latin America and elsewhere, conservative movements feel legitimised and narratives like those creating the term “gender ideology” flourish, with serious consequences, especially for women and LGBTQ+ folks. As  recently noted by  the  Open Society Foundations, although “gender ideology” is a fiction, the  threat it poses is real. (Bessa, 2017).

4. Methodology

We chose five key articles about Judith Butler´s visit  to Brazil, published in the  portals UOL and G1 between  07/11/2017 and 14/11/2017. These are the  most popular of the  country. Portal UOL was founded in  April 1996  and it is the largest content portal in Brazil. It was the sixth most-accessed portal in 2017 in  Brazil, according to Alexa, an Amazon company. Portal G1 is maintained by Globo  Broadcasting Group. It was founded in September 2006,  and it was the  fifth most-accessed portals in 2017, according to Alexa.

The articles studied are described at the  reference. There you can see the headlines published by UOL and G1 during Butler’s visit  to Brazil.

5. Critical Discourse Analysis

“First, discourse should be defined as language in use. Second and consequently, newspaper discourse should be approached in  such a way that assumes that it is an activity, or  practice” (Richardson, 2007,   p.  221).  Richardson argues that  critical discourse analysis (CDA) is concerned with social problems. It studies power in discourse and over discourse, the  culture and the  society, and also  the  history and context. As he points out, “Language may be ideological. To determine this is necessary to  analyse texts to  investigate their interpretation, reception and social effects” (Richardson, 2007, p. 28).

For   Fairclough, the   ideological work  of   texts naturalizes power relations, and it is most effective when its workings are least visible. Naturalization, according to  this author, is  the “royal road to  common sense” (Fairclough, 1989,  p.  92, cited by Deacon et al, 1999, p. 153).

In   this  study, we  focused  on   the   ideological analysis  of 154 comments by  protesters and counter-protesters posted in the two  portals. We  found that after a certain period of time some of  the  comments were no  longer available. We  could not find comments on  the  articles “The  passage of the  philosopher Judith Butler at Congonhas airport ends at the  police station” (UOL) and “Burn the  Witch” (G1), but we  kept the  articles themselves in the study because the  news pieces presented important details of the reaction to Butler´s visit.

In total, we  analysed 13 comments on  “Protesters protest against and for  American philosopher Judith Butler in  Sao  Paulo” and 91 on  “Judith Butler: Protests were moved by  ignorance”. Portal G1 published 50 comments on  “Groups protest in  the  West zone of  Sao Paulo for   and  against philosopher  Judith Butler”. The arguments of protesters and counter-protesters are described in the  following section.

5.1 Protesters’ Arguments

The  arguments of  the  protesters show the  emergence of conservative ideologies regarding family and gender theory, a development which reflects the current Brazilian context after the impeachment of president Rousseff, the  empowerment of right- wing forces such as MBL,1 and the  emergence of conservative and traditional groups in the country. Much like Thatcherism in Britain in the  1980s,  these groups articulate “the  liberal discourse of ‘free market’ and economic man and organic conservative themes of ‘tradition, family and nation respectability, patriarchalism and order’” (Hall,1988, p. 2).

Three main themes recur in the  comments of protesters against Judith Butler´s visit and what they call her “gender ideology”.

1.Butler is  a person who comes from hell to  destroy Brazilian nuclear families and their Christian values.
2.She  represents the  witch and the  Antichrist.
3.She  opposes traditional biology.

We  translated the  comments illustrating these themes from Portuguese to English.

The “gender ideology” of the left destroys family values and  beliefs and  hurts children:

“Gender ideology” is a term created to demerit Butler’s gender and queer theory2. The right wing argues that her theory was propagated by leftists to destroy family values. The comments above show the  rhetoric used by the  right wing, which are said by  Junqueira (2018)  to be  anti-ideological or  non-ideological. For  them, the  leftists support promiscuity and teach sexuality to children; they also  eroticize children.

Ok!  To  be against gender ideology is  to be  ignorant? To  be against teaching sexuality to children is be ignorant? To defend our families is  to  be ignorant? So a person is  only cool  and smart when he supports promiscuity and things like  that????? Eduardo SPZL, UOL, 14/11/2017

“Laughable left…kkkk” ddrey, UOL, 07/11/2017

“You have to stop giving importance and ignore these dumb Americans who have nothing to  do and come here only to disturb us.” Adriana Oliveira, G1, 07/11/2017

“Leave our families in  peace. #OutJudith.” Jonathan Rufino, G1, 07/11/2017

“Why does no one see these manifestations of arts and ideology as a way of inducing sex  to children in the  poorest places like the  slums of Rio de Janeiro?” John Benne, G1, 07/11/2017

“This   rubbish that promotes the   ideology of  gender is  not welcome. There’s going to be a rally against yes. The only ones who support this nefarious ideology that aims to eroticize our children are disgusting lefties” Laura Rejane, G1, 07/11/2017.

The philosopher as witch and  Antichrist:

Butler was depicted as a witch and as the  Antichrist, and the protesters urged one another to “burn the  witch” and put her to run as the  inquisitors did  in the  Middle Ages. God and faith are emphasized as bastions of conservative values.

This   woman is  the   Antichrist in  person.”  Randall Flag,   UOL, 07/11/2017

“Good! Straighten out Brazil, put the witch to run.” maisdemenos, UOL, 07/11/2017

“It is no rumour, it is cultural! God transform you!”  Rita Sabioni, UOL, 07/11/2017

“Conservative Sao Paulo puts the  witch to run!” Maisdemenos, UOL, 07/11/2017

“She  climbed on  her broom and took off, hope she never comes back, bye!!!”  Julia Minervia, UOL, 14/11/2017

These comments make an emotional appeal (pathos) in  their rhetoric, attempting to  manipulate the  audience into believing Butler is a witch, an Antichrist, and a person who opposes God and traditional values. They  argue that the  philosopher came to Brazil to teach Brazilian families how to raise their children and to  destroy Brazilian families. The  language they use  is charged with emotion, but no valid arguments or evidence are offered.

“Gender ideology” goes against tradition and biology:

The   biological approach explains that  chromosomes are  the fundamental cause of  gender differences (two  X chromosomes yield a baby girl,  whereas an X and a Y produce a baby boy).  The biological differences between men and women result in differing behaviours. As  already discussed, Butler refuses to  accept the reduction of the  concept of gender to masculinity and femininity; she  also  refuses to accept certain stereotyped notions of sexuality as norms. Protesters think she promotes homosexuality and LGBT lifestyles. They  make the  common-sense objection that Butler’s theories have not   been scientific proven  (Fairclough, 1989)  to argue against the  philosopher and naturalize their own position.

“She  is  a reference in  “gender’  theory. Any  biology book from middle  school  overturns   her   theory.”  Rodrigo Araújo, G1, 07/11/2017)

“Philosopher? Just a left-winger talking shit that talks about gender ideology, a theory that has no  theoretical foundation.” Fabio dos Santos Silva, G1, 07/11/2017

“A bitch responsible for  propagating the  disgusting rot of something that is not natural or scientific, just a slutty bitch funded by scoundrels.

All  she   cares about is  money.”  Marcel Augusto Martin, G1, 07/11/2017

“Hiding behind the  cover of philosopher does not  justify your inability to validate your ideology.” Visitante, UOL, 14/11/2017

The  comments above show the  charged emotions of the protesters, who are  personally offended by   Butler´s  visit and clearly appeal to the  audience, manipulating them. They use   obscene language and insults, calling Butler “bitch” or taunting, “Hiding behind the  cover of  philosopher does not justify your inability”.

5.2 The Arguments of the Counter-Protesters

The  main themes of  these comments are the  ignorance, misinformation,  and   prejudice  of   the    protesters.   They question the  ideas of “morals and good  manners”, which are the  stated values and beliefs of the  protesters. They  also  assert that the  public should be  more worried about the  problems of  the  country (corruption and economic crisis) than about how people raise their children or live their lives. Three ideas recur in these comments.

Protesters are  ignorant and  uneducated

The   left-wing and  more  progressive discourse emphasizes the  ignorance of the  protesters and the  fact  that they are not well  informed about Butler´s theory and ideas. They  think the protesters are ignorant and uneducated and that they expose the  country to shame.

“Brazilians are doing what they do best: exposing themselves to shame.” Glauber CL, UOL,14/11/2017

“Poor people of Brazil. People who judge shallow and superficially. They are filled with conviction based on ignorance and they embarrass themselves and the  rest of  the   nation. Brazil lives unhappy days.” Evidente QN, UOL,14/11/2017

“Have you  ever read her work? Better to inform yourself.” Litur, UOL, 07/11/2017

“People are not interested in philosophy and suddenly we have a movement against a philosopher... People don’t know what she  writes about... they read a title of a story and they go on and on about it. They  burn the  witch then. A lot of ignorance. A lot of Middle Ages.” Cassia Maria Amanajas Bezerra, G1, 07/11/2017 “Galileo was almost burned  for  saying that the earth was round, he  had to go  back and apologize for  not dying. Is  this the  time we’re going back to?” 4U2, UOL, 14/11/2017

As we  can see,  the  counter-protesters also  use  emotional appeals and insult the  protesters regarding their ignorance. Education is  a main concern of  conservatives, but here it  is  used in  the arguments of the  counter-protesters.

The importance of freedom of expression, feminism, and  equality

The idea that the people have the right to express their ideas about feminism, women´s  equal rights, and the   fact   that “freedom of  expression” is  part of  democracy appear in  the  discourse of the   counter-protesters. Freedom of  expression and speech are protected in  the  Brazilian Constitution and are rights of  every Brazilian citizen. Everybody has the  right to voice his or her own opinion.

“A protest like this is against freedom of expression, why are these people so angry with feminism? Ignorance or  lack of character? Don´t they like equality? For sure they do not even know what she talks about in  her work and accuse her based on  internet idiocy and  gossip, in  anger from the   left…Unfortunate.” Guilherme, UOL, 07/11/2017

“The   image says  a lot   about protesters. Representing the philosopher as a witch, they take the place of inquisitors bringing the  society to the Middle Ages.  The  supposed ‘freedom of speech’ is  a mere rhetorical instrument. They  cannot stand difference, and it  would be  more honest to assume this position.” Marcos, UOL, 07/11/2017

“I just  think you can give your opinion without verbally assaulting anyone, much less  act in  such a way (burning the  witch, are we in  the  middle ages?). The  world has already so  much hate, why multiply this hate?” Rafaella Rodrigues, G1, 07/11/2017

“Sick people, imagine someone protesting against a philosopher? This  is  a great expression of  fascism: gag,  stifle, eliminate the other, what a sick society! Brazil takes reverse steps from the  Age of  Enlightenment into the darkness of  the  Middle Ages.”  Pedro Lira,  07/11/2017

“You can notice that all defenders of ‘moral and good manners´ aim to make society regress economically and socially to the past.” LUIZ?0, UOL 07/11/2017

“This  fundamentalist ‘wave’  makes me tired! Now,  everything that  involves sex,   gender,  and sexuality has  become sin, taboo, or whatever they want. Have these people ripped their genitals off,  or  do  they just  make love by wi-fi?  Hypocrites.” Jane Soares Cruz Cabral, G107/11/2017

“We  live  in a democracy, and in  a democracy we  respect the opinion of the  majority. They  may shout and make noise on the  internet, but the Brazilian people have strong character and have great love  in  their heart. Love  for  our family in  the first place.” Mister Carlos, UOL, 14/11/2017

“What could you  expect from people who support MBL3   and Alexandre Frota?”4 Radynne Loureiro, UOL,14/11/2017

“The debate over different ideas is beautiful and enriching, as long  as it does not oppose to the  thought of ones. And long live democracy in the  country!!!” Maubruno, UOL, 14/11/2017

The  media creates a common sense of the  world through its language and symbols, providing an ideological support for hegemonic power structures (Meyers,1994, p.  47–63).  These comments shows how the  media plays a key  role in  the maintenance of the  dominant culture: “Subordinated groups – women, people of color, the  poor and working class, lesbians and gay  men, the  elderly – are encouraged to  ‘buy into’  the dominant ideology which, in fact,  maintains the  status quo by keeping them subordinated” (Meyers, 1999, p. 7).

There are  more important things to think about in the country

The  counter-protesters also  argue that there are more important things to worry about in Brazil than Judith Butler´s visit. They mention such things as corruption, pension reforms, social policies, taxes, and so on.  They  think that the  forms of intimacy adopted by  others and their sexual orientation is  no one else’s  business, nor the  way people raise their own children. They  criticize the  right and what they perceive as a conservative misunderstanding of Brazilian problems.

“Go to work, bunch of bums! People who do not  have enough to do and usually criticizing the  government.” UOL, 07/11/2017

“The country sunk in corruption and people worried how parents are going to  raise their children? If  you’re not   doing anything illegal, it is ok. Everyone should mind his own business. You should not  allow a country standing up to your kids  and should not  worry how your neighbour is raising his kids  or who he is sleeping with. Brazil is becoming a land of gossip and spies of other lives.” Ju22, UOL, 07/11/2017

“The  conservative agenda is  great, right? They  protest against corruption? Taxes? Pension reform? Slave  labor? No,  they only call  to  protest against the museum and the  philosopher. It gives us  the  impression that the articulators have no  interest in  the welfare of  the  majority of  the   population and they only want to  divert attention to  minor things by creating spectacles and disseminating misinformation, which is curious.” Felipe Kouwen, G1, 07/11/2017

-“This  is what happens: 14 million unemployed people in  Brazil without having to  do what they will   do  with everything that happens in  the country. I hope you get  better kkkk.” Emmanoel Rabelo, G1, 07/11/2017

“People do not   protest against corruption, which is  necessary. While these idiots are making a pointless protest, the  government continues to steal from the  people. Only  in Brazil!” – Luiz Baratheont, G1,07/11/2017

“Continue protesting against such a ‘gender ideology’, meanwhile the  Brasilia gang takes advantage. Strange those people who forgot to  protest against corruption. It  seems that they want to elect playboys to  became as the  last  government of PT.” Jacar?, UOL, 11/07/2017

6. Conclusion

The  gender theorist Judith Butler came to Brazil to discuss democracy in  a difficult moment for  the  country and its  people. The  unpopular and conservative Michel Temer had just  became president in 2016 after left-wing Dilma Rousseff´s impeachment. His policies took the country backwards in terms of minority rights. The conservative groups known collectively as the  Brazilian Free Movement (MBL) were advocating the  “free market” and making strong opposition to liberal social ideologies such as efforts at gender equality and women’s reproductive rights.

In this context, Butler´s gender theory was highly unwelcome to the extremely conservative and traditional groups in power. They  protested against her and even burned her picture as a witch and Antichrist. In  their view, Butler creates what they call  a “gender ideology” of the  left  that aims to destroy their families and their Christian values. Feeling that she  wants to teach them how to raise their own children, they used obscene language, insults, and emotional appeals to the  audience.

On   the   other hand,  according to   the   counter-protesters, these conservative groups are ignorant and uneducated and misunderstand  Butler´s  theory. Counter-protesters argued that the  protesters were behaving like inquisitors from the Middle Age and shaming the   country. In  their view, there are more important things to  worry about in Brazil, such as corruption, reforms, and social policies. Like  the  protesters, they also  used emotional appeals.

Here we  present comments from both sides (the traditional and  conservative  right  wing and  the   liberal  left   wing) published in UOL and G1 portals. Based upon Richardson and Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis, we  analyse both sides of  the  arguments, giving due consideration to the  Brazilian context and culture and the history of our people.

We  conclude that Brazilians are not   yet fully   prepared for Butler´s ideas and concepts. The conservative groups in power at the moment are in fact afraid of the contemporary feminism that Butler represents, particularly after far-right Bolsonaro won the  presidential election in  2018.  His  non-ideological or anti-ideological discourse emphasizes that “gender ideology” and leftist ideas represent a danger to the  country and to the good  citizens of Brazil. For him, “God above everything, Brazil above all.”


1 With Margaret Thatcher and Rand Paul as inspiration, the MBL, or Free Brazil Movement, is among the  leading groups that stand against president Dilma Rousseff. The  movement defends liberalism and free market as a solution to the Brazilian problems. The movement also  voices strong opposition to  social liberal ideologies such as  gender-equality efforts and women´s´ reproductive rights. Douglas, Bruce. Brazil Activists to walk 600 miles for 'free market, lower taxes and privatisations -' The Guardian, São Paulo.24/04/2015

2 margaret-thatcher-rand-paul

3 The   MBL  defends liberalism and the   free market as  a solution to  Brazilian problems. It  opposes liberal social ideologies such as  gender-equality efforts and women´s reproductive rights.

4 Alexandre Frota is a former pornographic movie actor who became a Brazilian politician and who now represents the  conservative government.


Almeida T., y Cremona, F. (2019).  “Ideologia de Gênero”, Comunicação  e   Educação  no   Brasil  e   na  Argentina.  IN: Belisário, Katia et all. Gênero em Pauta: Desconstruindo Violências, Construindo Novos Caminhos.Curitiba: Editora Appris.

Azevedo, D. Queime a Bruxa. G1, Quarta-feira, 08/11/2017.

BBC Latin America. (2016).  Brazil Impeachment: Key Questions. 31 August 2016.

Bessa, T. (2017).  Judith  Butler, “gender  ideology” and  the  rise  of conservatism in Brazil. Feminist Academic Collective.

Brum, E. (January 10, 2019).  He´s been president a week – and already Bolsonaro is damaging Brazil. The Guardian.

Buarque, D. (November 14, 2017).  Judith Butler: Protestos contra palestra foram ‘movidos pela ignorância’. Blog do Brasilianismo. Uol Notícias

Butler, J. (1990).   Gender  Trouble: Feminism and   Subversion of Identity. New  York: Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Inc.

Butler, J. (2004).  Undoing Gender. New  York: Routledge

Butler, J. (2017).  Judith  Butler escreve sobre sua  teoria de gênero e o ataque sofrido no Brasil.

Deacon, D., Pickering, M., Golding, P., & Graham, M. (1999). Researching Communications:  A  Practical Guide   to  Methods in Media and  Cultural Analysis London: Holder, Arnold.

Garcia, J. (November 11, 2017).  Manifestantes protestam contra e a favor de filosofa americana em Sao Paulo. UOL Sao Paulo.

G1 Portal. (November 12, 2017).  Grupos protestam na Zona  Oeste de Sao Paulo a favor e contra a filosofa Judith  Butler. Globo

Hall, S. (1988). A Hard  Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left.  London: Verso. Google  Scholar.

Hao,  A. (July  05, 2016).  In Brazil women are  fighting against the sexist impeachment of Dilma  Rousseff. The Guardian.

Johnson, C. (November 8, 2017).  About 70  protest UC Berkeley professor Judith Butler’s  conference in  Brazil. The  Daily Californian, Berkeley News, Wednesday.

Jornal o Globo. (November 11, 2017).  Polêmicas cercam segunda vinda de Judith Butler ao Brasil. O Globo.

Junqueira, R.D. Entrevista. A Gênese de  uma categoria. http//

Mendonça, H.  (September 13,  2017).   Queermuseu: o  dia  em que a intolerância pegou uma exposição para  cristo. São Paulo: Brasil. El País.

Meyers,  M.   (1999).    Mediated  Women:  Representations  in Popular Culture. New Jersey: Hampton Press.

Miguel, L. F. (2016).  Da “Doutrinação Marxista” à “Ideologia de  Gênero”: Escola Sem  Partido e as leis  de  mordaça no parlamento brasileiro. Rio  de  Janeiro:  Direito & Praxis, V.07, n15,  p. 590-621.

Richardson, J. E. (2007).  Analysing Newspaper: An  Approach from  Critical Discourse Analysis.  New   York:  Palgrave Macmilliam

The  Guardian. (2018).  Who is  Bolsonaro? Brazil´s far-right President in his own words.

Vice Brasil. (Novembro 10, 2017).  Judith Butler foi perseguida no aeroporto de Congonhas.

Portals Analysed

Garcia, J. (November 7, 2017).  Manifestantes Protestam contra e a favor de filósofa Americana Judith Butler em  São

Paulo. Portal Uol, Cotidiano, Grupos protestam na Zona Oeste de  Sao  Paulo a favor e  contra a filosofa Judith Butler.). São Paulo. (November 7, 2017).  Portal G1. Passagem da filósofa Judith Butler por Congonhas termina na

Delegacia. (November 10, 2017).  Portal Uol.

Azevedo, D. (Novembre 8, 2017).  Queime a Bruxa. Portal G1, Dodô Azevedo,.

Buarque, D.  (November 11,  2017).   Judith Butler: Protestos contra palestra foram ‘movidos pela  ignorância’. Portal Uol, Blog do Brasilianismo.