Brasilien: Heleieth Saffioti

The moment we reach our goal, is when the real work begins.

— Heleieth Saffioti

Heleieth Saffioti (1934) is a sociologist. She wrote dozens of books about the inequalities between men and women, emphasizing gender violence. She conquered every title in the academic career and has hundreds of articles published in Brazil and abroad. As a controversial and essential presence in feminist studies, Heleieth uses her teachings and her words as tools for building a better world.

“I was born in a place that had no electricity, where people lived and worked under the sunlight and the oil lamp. My father was a bricklayer and my mother a dressmaker. When I was ten years old, I used to embroider baby clothes.” Little Heleieth loved studying and made curiosity her guiding star to learn what school had to offer. Another of this girl's characteristics that remained in the woman was her rebelliousness. “Being poor, my destiny was to be a dressmaker, and as a woman, to be a housewife. I changed both those destinies.” Her strategy is to clearly say what she wants. That is how she got rid of a priest's attempt to catechize her: “If you, Sir, think that–with this authoritarian preaching–you are going to make me start believing in God, you are very wrong.” This is Heleieth Saffioti, unafraid to speak her mind. “On the second day of my marriage, I explained to my husband that I would make all the decisions concerning my life.” As someone who learns, she is not reluctant to teach. “I teach at home, on the street and in the subway.” She teaches at university and when she writes books. One of them is a best-seller with 12 successive editions: ‘O Poder do Macho’ (Macho's Power). In the book ‘Gender, Patriarchate, Violence’ (2004) she demonstrates all of her argumentative power with incisive writing, making the historical reasons for male domination very clear. For decades, her books, articles and lectures have been a theoretical source for feminist activism. When practice grows cloudy, her knowledge clarifies. At the same time that she teaches future masters in one of the most famous universities in Brazil, she gives lectures to women of little schooling. “In this life, what I most enjoy is people.”