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Journal of Pragmatics 23 (1995) 183-197

A critical discourse analysis of gender relations in Brazil

M a r i a I z a b e l S. M a g a l h ~ e s
Departamento de Lingiilstica, Lfnguas Cl6ssicas e Vernc~cula, Universidade de Brasffia, 70.910-900 Brasilia-DF, Brazil

Received January 1993; revised version December 1993

Gender relations in Brazil are focused in this paper from the perspective of language, as seen in presuppositions and commonsense assumptions. Presuppositions, viewed as part of the intertextual context, are analyzed to show how underlying processes of language play a significant part in reproducing unequal power relations. The analysis of three different texts shows the relation between language and ideology in the construction of gender. It is found that heterogeneity guides presuppositions and commonsense assumptions of texts about women and texts produced by women in Brazil, indicating two main forms of coexistence: the discourse of control and the discourse of liberation. Further, behind the discourse of liberation, one will register the discourse of control which derives from the dominating gender of a basically patriarchal society. In the big cities, however, the analysis shows that women have a social identity derived from the struggle for civil rights. Thus, while two of the texts are representative of the tension between the discourse of control and the discourse of liberation in this society, the third one reveals a discourse change in progress: liberated from the conservative patriarchal discourse, women demand that their rights be made explicit in the Constitution.

1. Introduction
The purpose of this paper is to investigate gender relations in Brazil by means o f a critical analysis of presuppositions and c o m m o n s e n s e assumptions in texts. A n analysis of linguistic traces and contextual cues will attempt to show that language plays an important role in the discourse construction of women. What is said about w o m e n and what w o m e n say will depend in part on the linguistic means which is socially available. The importance o f language in discussions o f w o m e n ' s place can be seen in recent studies. According to some o f these studies, w o m e n ' s texts are fragmented as a result o f the non-existence o f words to express w o m e n ' s particular experiences (Cameron, 1985: 5). 0378-2166/95/$09.50 1995 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved SSDI 0378-2166(93)E0101-5


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Some women linguists claim that language belongs to men, hence women have to use an alienating means of communication which is inadequate to women's reality. The influence of this kind of view is exemplified in Spender's work (1980). The fact is that, both in European tradition (semiological) and in American tradition (anthropological linguistics), language is crucial to gender discussions.

2. Gender relations There is a great difference in how men's and women's ways of speaking are viewed in Brazil. 1 To speak from women's place in some situations may not have any social weight. No doubt such a difference has caused a great number of women to be silent, as in verbal and non-verbal insults against women in traffic. On the other hand, important political discussions have traditionally been considered men's business, although recently a woman has held a top political post - Z61ia Cardoso de Mello, Minister of Finance from 1990 to 1991 (cf. 4.2). However, women's situations vary considerably. Women who work outside their homes have a larger share in political, economic and cultural discussions than those who look after the house and interact in a small, close communicative network consisting of their families, relatives and friends. There is also a great difference between urban women, living in a context which is under the influence of the media, and rural women who are less affected by this communication power which standardizes opinions and linguistic habits. Another significant variable is schooling. In small towns and villages in the Brazilian backland, it is still common for boys to study in the state capital, where there are more educational facilities, and for girls to stay at home awaiting their turn to get married. Certainly this practice is the product of a social context in which men have a privileged status. Educated women are more successful in struggling for their rights than illiterate women or women with a low level of schooling.

3. Presuppositions, c o m m o n sense and unequal power relations Texts produced by women and about women are often based on assumptions derived from gender relations dominated by men. Such assumptions can be seen linguistically as presuppositions and more generally as common sense. I consider presuppositions in pragmatic terms. A pragmatic definition of presupposition involves the notion of common ground. Presuppositions are "assumptions the speaker makes about what the hearer is likely to accept without challenge" (Giv6n, 1979: 50); or " w h a t is taken by the speaker to be the common ground of the participants in the conversation" (Stalnaker, 1978: 321). Ducrot (1987) distinguishes presupposition from what he calls sous-entendu. While presupposition can be shown to have linguistic traces, which have to be interThe notion 'ways of speaking' was introducedby the American sociolinguistHymes (1974).

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preted in order to make sense o f what is said, the sous-entendu is a non-literal or indirect speech act which can be added to the interpretation o f the literal speech act. Like Ducrot, Levinson views presuppositions as being predicted " f r o m the semantic content o f presupposition-triggers", but adds that such a prediction is derived ' 'by means of general pragmatic principles" (1983: 216). However, Levinson does not specify what kind o f pragmatic principles would define presuppositions; he refers to the need for a theory that would predict presuppositions " f r o m the semantic specification o f linguistic expressions" - ultimately resulting from " c o m plex interactions between semantics and p r a g m a t i c s " (1983: 225). Thus, for the purpose o f this work, I will consider that presuppositions can be predicted from the semantic content of linguistic expressions, but will treat other cases of implicit utterances (sous-entendu or c o m m o n s e n s e assumptions) as related to them. An example from a text published in Jornal do Brasil, a leading national newspaper, in May 1988, as part o f the celebration o f the centenary of the abolition of slavery, will show both presupposition and sous-entendu. (1) "Produto brasileiro de exportaq~o, cantada e louvada por autores como Gilberto Freyre ou Jorge Amado, a mulata parece ser o momento em que o branco n~o fica branco, nero o negro fica negro. Ela 6 a salvaq~o e o ~ilibi mais perfeito da democracia racial, al6m de ser a grande sedutora, servindo para os delfrios do leito, enquanto a negra pura vai para o batente e as brancas servem para casar." [A Brazilian export product, sung and praised by authors such as Gilberto Freyre or Jorge Amado, the mulatto woman seems to be the point in which the White does not stay white nor the Black stays black. She is the salvation and the most perfect alibi of racial democracy, besides being the great seductress, serving the raptures of the bed, while the nonmixed black woman serves to do hard work and white women serve for marrying.] The initial phrase Produto brasileiro de exportaqdo (A Brazilian export product) presents an implicit meaning: a type o f woman, the mulatto, is considered an object for sale. The second sentence contains the presupposition (a) and the implicit utterances (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g): (a) there is racial democracy in Brazil; (b) there is a type o f w o m a n w h o is a great seducer; (c) there are three types of w o m e n in Brazil: the mulatto w o m a n serves for sex; the black w o m a n serves to work hard; and white w o m e n serve for marrying; (d) racial democracy needs salvation; (e) racial democracy needs alibis; (f) all w o m e n are used in Brazil, no matter what their color; (g) all w o m e n are used by m e n ) The use of the verb serve indicates that w o m e n are seen as objects, classified according to types: such types can be seen as different frames for women. Frames are mental representations of animate beings, inanimate objects, processes or abstract concepts (Schank and Abelson, 1977). Thus, the Jornal do Brasil text clas-

2 For (d)-(g) I would like to thank the Journal of Pragmatics referees who commented on this paper.


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sifies women according to what they serve for, indicating that all women are used (by men). In the case of mulatto women, they are not only treated as sex objects, but also as profitable ones, since they can be exchanged for money abroad. Presuppositions do not belong to texts, but to one's interpretation of intertextual context, viewed in the historical relations among texts (Fairclough, 1989: 152). In unequal power relations, such as those between the sexes, presuppositions can be considered to have ideological functions. In these relations, the more powerful actors often impose their own interpretations of facts on the less powerful ones, thus determining presuppositions. The notion of 'common ground' invoked in the definitions above is related to 'common sense', a term used by the American sociologist Garfinkel (1967), who writes of the 'familiar commonsense world of everyday life'. This commonsense world is based on the assumptions and expectations of the members of a society. Such assumptions and expectations guide these members' actions and their interpretation of the actions of others. As these assumptions and expectations are implicit and taken for granted, they play a crucial role in the interpretation and explanation of discourse. According to the British linguist Fairclough, "the effectiveness of ideology depends to a considerable degree on it being merged with this commonsense background to discourse and other forms of social action" (1989: 77). The relation between common sense and ideology is of primary concern to the analysis of unequal power relations. Although not all commonsense assumptions are ideological, ideology plays a significant part in reproducing unequal power relations. Thompson (1984), in a well-known study of ideology, takes ideology to be an important factor in the social construction of meaning. Thompson proposes to study ideology in language, showing three ways by which ideology operates: first, ideology sustains unequal power relations to the extent that they are presented as legitimate. Second, ideology operates through dissimulation, denying or concealing power relations. Third, ideology operates by reification, representing a transitory or historical state as if it were permanent or natural (1984: 130). According to Thompson, language provides individuals with a classification system imposing order on the world, and facilitating the individuals' control over experience and society's control over representations of reality. But different social groups possess different classification systems which will get strained with conflicts of interest in the course of interaction (1984: 121). In the construction of reality, therefore, language is a means of sustaining unequal power relations. The discourse process reveals power relations engendered by the social process. Words and utterances gain meaning which is basically heterogeneous, and texts become relevant in discourse as a result of a historical process. For Thompson, the meaning of a word or utterance is an indeterminate phenomenon which is often structured in rhetorical figures, being susceptible to change. Therefore, meaning can be mobilized, sustaining unequal power relations as it legitimates, dissimulates, and/or reifies a state of affairs. A final point I want to make is that it is the interpreter or reader who activates meaning in the process of interpretation, since implicit meaning is not asserted in the text. One way in which assumptions can be imposed on interpreters is by providing

M.I.S. Magalhdes I Journal of Pragmatics 23 (1995) 183-197


textual cues which place interpreters in such a position that they have to consider those assumptions in order to make sense of the text. In the next section, gender relations in Brazil will be analyzed as unequal power relations; this will be done by focusing on presuppositions and commonsense assumptions in three different texts.

4. Gender relations in text and discourse

The term text will be used in this paper in the sense of a semantic unit, the product of a discourse process (Halliday and Hasan, 1985). The term d i s c o u r s e will be applied to the process of production and the process of interpretation. The linguistic features of a text are t r a c e s which show the discourse process of production, and cues in the discourse process of interpretation. Both processes are related to interpretive resources in the human mind which are drawn upon by text producers and interpreters/readers - M e m b e r s ' R e s o u r c e s - which include linguistic knowledge, representations of the world, values, beliefs, and assumptions (Fairclough, 1989: 24). Three texts will be analyzed in this section. The first is from the comic strip T i n a by the Brazilian comics writer Mauricio de Sousa. The second is from a book about the former Minister of Finance, Z61ia Cardoso de Mello, Z e l i a , u m a p a i x 6 o ('Z61ia, a passion'), written by Fernando Sabino and published in 1991, soon after her dis-

~l Il I I M I l~ ~TOI

Fig. 1. "She doesn't please him in anything." Frames 5, 9, 14, 26. (Permission to reproduce these frames is gratefully acknowledged to Maurfcio de Sousa's Productions, S~o Paulo, Brazil.)


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missal from the government. The third is a w o m a n ' s proposal for the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, selected from a corpus of 284 w o m e n ' s texts which 1 investigated as part of the data research on the Constitution (Magalhfies, 1991). The methodology which was adopted in the analysis can be summarized in Fairclough's dimensions for Critical Discourse Analysis: (a) Description - investigation of the linguistic traces of the texts; (b) Interpretation - investigation of the texts as interactions, that is as products of a process of production and as resources in a process of interpretation; (c) Explanation - investigation of the relationship between interaction and the sociohistorical context, and the meaning effects resulting from such a relationship (1989: 26). These dimensions are presented separately merely because they are seen as analytic procedures. However, I consider them so closely connected that I cannot conceive of description without interpretive, explanatory analysis.
4.1. "She doesn't please him in a n y t h i n g "

An analysis of presupposition and commonsense assumptions in Tina's story (Sousa, 1992: 3-15) shows a humorous portrayal of a Brazilian man who is extremely authoritarian in his relationship with women, attempting to control everything they do. What strikes me most in this text, however, is not m e n ' s power in discourse, and the fact that it can be questioned - and Tina does question it at the end - but the presupposed and naturalized speech acts behind the discourse, which can be interpreted from the fact that although Tina's friends like her liberated look, the text leaves it open to interpretation whether any of her male admirers would accept her as a wife. If one judges from the Jornal do Brasil text (above, section 3), Tina's liberated white behavior and attitudes, like the mulatto woman's, would be associated with sex but not with a marital relationship. The following presuppositions and commonsense assumptions can be analyzed in the text:
Frame 4

"Tina! O que foi que voc~ fez com o seu c a b e l o ? " (Tina! What have you done to your hair?) The verb form f e z presupposes that there is something wrong with Tina's hair.
Frame 5

" E u nao saio corn voc~ desse jeito ! " ( I ' m not going out with you like this !) The bold-face types and the deictic form desse - which relates this speech act to the immediate interaction situation - assume that women should dress in a certain way that can be described as not calling too much attention to themselves and which can be seen as conservative, if we look at frame 26, where Tina is wearing the dress selected by Rubinho. 3
3 Rubinhois the diminutive form of Rubens, which can be interpreted as humorous in opposition to the

character's behavior.

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Frame 6 Tina: "V-Voc~ acha feio, m e s m o ? " (D-D'you really think it's ugly?) Rubinho: "Urn lixo! Trate de desfrisar!" (A mess! Go and uncurl it!) Rubinho's speech act assumes that women's hair can be compared to waste when it does not match (men's) expectation of acceptable behavior. Trate de desfrisar assumes that women are subordinate, for Rubinho orders Tina to go and uncurl her hair. Frame 9 " A minha Tina de s e m p r e ! " (My Tina as ever!) Rubinho's speech presupposes his former and current power over Tina which is explicit in the definite article a and possessive form minha and in the adverb sernpre. The visual elements of the text add to the interpretation of the linguistic traces, as Tina looks unhappy, while Rubinho is pleased for a moment. Frame 11 " Q u e batom 6 e s s e ? " (What kind of lipstick is this?) The deictic form esse refers to the immediate interaction context, in which the color of lipstick which Tina is wearing is considered to be inadequate for a woman's behavior; it is suggested that there are other colors which are more adequate. The use of the simple present tense g reinforces the idea of inadequacy with its meaning of permanent state (Cunha and Cintra, 1985). Frame 12 Tina: " A h ! I~ urea tonalidade nova! G o s t o u ? " (Oh! It's a new color! Do you like it?) Rubinho: " D e jeito nenhum! Faz sua boca parecer e n o r m e ! " (No way! It makes your mouth look huge!) Frame 13 Rubinho: " P r a dizer a verdade, faz voc~ parecer uma v a m p i r a ! " (To tell the truth, it makes you look like a vampire!) Tina: " N o s s a ! " (Goodness!) It is assumed that red lipstick is sensuous and therefore evil, making a woman's mouth enormous and seductive. Rubinho's speech also naturalizes the underlying assumption that a woman should be quiet and should not call attention to herself with brilliant colors. Frame 14 Tina: "Ent~o, vou tirar!" (Then, I'm going to take it off!) Rubinho: "Aproveita e tira o resto da maquiagem, tamb6m! T~i exagerada!" (While you're at it, take the rest of the make-up off! It's too heavy!) Rubinho's commonsense disapproval of Tina's make-up is made stronger nonverbally by the upward movement of his hand. In addition, in frame 14 (also in 16, 18 and 19), Rubinho sounds authoritarian, using unmitigated directives and evaluations, and showing no consideration for Tina's speaker rights.

Frame 15

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Tina: " E agora? Podemos i r ? " (And now? Can we go?) Rubinho: " I R R C ! " (vocalizeshis irritation)
Frame 16

Rubinho: "Nunca! Com esse vestido ridfculo?" (Never! With this ridiculous dress?) Nunca suggests an arguing space in which Rubinho has the authority to refuse to go out with Tina if she does not change her ridiculous dress.
Frame 18

Rubinho: "Vai por mim, T i n a ! " (Take my advice, Tina!)

Frame 19

Rubinho: "Nfio fica bem em voc~! 1~ melhor t r o c a r ! " (It doesn't suit you! You'd better change it ! ) Rubinho feels he is in a position to tell Tina what is best for her, assuming that women cannot have their own opinion and, in addition to that, he turns a question of his personal preference into a question of her physical inadequacy. Such a representation of women is more developed in frame 22, in which Rubinho notes that he had better help Tina choose a dress, in which the verb form ajudar (help) presupposes that women are incapable and need help. Su~irez (1992), a sociologist and feminist who has investigated race and gender, observes that, in rural areas of Brazil, women who work outside their homes are defined as helping the men, not as,laborers. Here, as in Tina's story, whatever women do has to be complemented and/or supervised by men.
Frame 25

Tina: "Rubinho! Mas justo e s t e ? " (Oh Rubinho! But why this one in particular?) Rubinho: " P r a me agradar!" (To please me!) Rubinho assumes that Tina will have to wear a dress which she does not like only to please him. But there are still the earrings to change.
Frame 28

"Esse brincao esquisito! N~o t~i mais combinando com nada! I~ melhor voc~ troc a r ! " (And these big weird earrings! They don't match anything! You'd better change them !). The utterance which makes Tina change her mind and put on the mini-dress again presupposes that her boyfriend does not like her earrings. This evaluative meaning is marked by the augmentative suffix do in brincdo and the adjective esquisito. The analysis of presuppositions and commonsense assumptions in the text about Tina suggests heterogeneity in discourse about women with two main forms of coexistence: 4 the discourse of control and the discourse of liberation. The discourse of 4 The termforms of coexistence is used by the French philosopherFoucault as part of the organization of a discourse field (cf. Foucault, 1969).

M.I.S. Magalhres ! Journal of Pragmatics 23 (1995) 183-197


control is noted in the criticisms uttered by Tina's boyfriend and her quiet acceptance of them (see Fig. 2). O penteado est~i um lixo. (Your hairdo looks a mess.) O batomfaz voc~ parecer uma vampira. (Your lipstick makes you look like a vampire.) A maquiagem t6 exagerada. (Your make-up is too heavy.) 0 rnini-vestido 6 ridiculo. (Your mini-dress is ridiculous.) Esse brincro 6 esquisito. (These big earrings are weird.) Vai por mim. (Take my advice.) O vestido n~ofica bern em vocY! E melhor trocar! (This dress doesn't suit you! You'd better change it.) Acho melhor eu ajudar a escolher. (l'd better help you choose.) Use este vestidopra me agradar. (Wear this dress to please me.) Fig. 2. The language of men's criticism of women. The discourse of women's control, which is of historical relevance in the social formation of Brazilian families, can be noted both on the surface and behind much of what is said and written about women in Brazil (Ararjo, 1993: 190). Considering women incapable of looking after themselves and of having their own opinion, and treating them as n o n - s u b j e c t s 5 are aspects of the ideology of women's incapability and frailty which appears in the text and in the commonsense assumptions of good behavior which is expected from women. The discourse of liberation, which is recent in Brazilian history, being associated with urban life, can be shown in Tina's speech at the end of the text. In frames 34 and 35, Rubinho refuses to go out with Tina by uttering a threat: "J~i falei que, desse jeito, eu nao saio com v o c 6 ! " (I've already told you that I won't go out with you dressed like this!). But her reply shows no fear of his dominating discourse: she answers " O t i m o ! " (Fine!), turns her back and challenges him: "Entao eu vou sozinha! T c h a u ! " (Then I ' m going by myself! Bye!). By refusing Rubinho's dominating discourse, Tina builds a social position for herself. Thus, the discourse of liberation contributes to the construction of women as subjects, creating new forms of meaning to replace other forms, or what Orlandi ( 1 9 9 0 : 1 3 0 ) refers to as f o u n d ing d i s c o u r s e . 4.2. Z~lia, a p a s s i o n

The text to be analysed in this section is from a book by the Brazilian writer Fernando Sabino - Zdlia, u m a p a i x d o (Zrlia, a passion). 6 This text was selected because, by telling the story of a love affair between a strong woman, Z. de Mello, who reached a top political post - Minister of Finance - and a well-known politician in Brazil and a married man, B. Cabral, it reveals clearly the two types of discourse 5 According to the Brazilian discourse analyst Orlandi (1990: 52), subjects can be 'suffocated' by a device of silencing, a process in which they are restrained from occupyingcertain social positions. Such is the case of non-subjects. 6 Source:Sabino (1991: 179-181).


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which were discussed in section 4.1, viz., the discourse o f control and the discourse o f liberation. The subtitle of the book refers to Z. de Mello as 'the most remarkable character' in Brazilian public life in recent years. Z. de Mello was no doubt a liberated w o m a n in the sense that she did not depend on a man. In fact, she was the most powerful minister in President F e m a n d o Collor's early team, persuading those Brazilians who were prevented from using their savings, in 1990, o f the importance o f their sacrifice for controlling inflation and freeing the country from a serious economic crisis. Yet Z. de Mello was also under the influence o f the conservative type o f discourse which sustains control over women. Although the story is told by a man, he is a ghost writer, as the reader is informed at the end o f the Foreword (p. 9): "Flaubert will excuse me then, but, for the purpose of this book, it is established that Z61ia Maria Cardoso de Mello is myself." A n analysis of presupposition and c o m m o n s e n s e assumptions in the text will be presented in what follows. (2) "Sua hist6ria, contada de todas as formas, verdadeiras ou inventadas, sua foto nos jornais e revistas em todos os ~ngulos - era como se ela estivesse vivendo a cada dia novo cap/tulo de uma fotonovela rom~ntica e sentimental." [Her story, told in all forms, true or invented, her picture in newspapers and magazines shot from all angles - it was as if each day she was living a new chapter of a romantic and sentimental fotonovela (photo-story).] It is presupposed from the use o f the subordinative connector como se (as if) that Z. de M e l l o ' s story was romantic and sentimental. In fact, in order to minimize the political effects o f the story after the press had published it, President Fernando Collor ordered a national survey, the result being 80 per cent of replies in favor of B. Cabral and Z. de Mello's love affair. There is nothing wrong with being romantic, but I find that Z. de Mello's story, when represented as a romantic and sentimental f o t o n o v e l a , which in Brazil is usually a monosemic, popular love story, and addressed at a stereotyped reader, can be related to a conservative view of w o m e n and to the discourse o f control. Such a portrayal o f former Minister Z. de Mello as a fragile, romantic w o m a n who can be seduced by her colleague, Minister o f Justice, a married man, bespeaks the power o f her political position. On the one hand, she was considered to be a new w o m a n who had the courage to impose on Brazilian savers the confiscation of their savings; but, on the other, by playing the female role in a romantic story that was seen as a sentimental f o t o n o v e l a , she was placed in the old, conservative, patriarchal Brazilian discourse about women. (3) "Ele lhe dissera, no comeqo, que ela nao era 'a sua mulher inaugural, mas sua estrEia nos sentimentos'." [At the beginning, he had told her that she was not 'his first woman, but his debut in feelings'.]

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The noun phrases mulher inaugural (first woman) and estr~ia (d6but) also derive from the discourse of control in which men are allowed to relate to different partners but women are expected to behave according to the principle of fidelity. The use of these noun phrases indicates that B. Cabral addressed Z. de Mello in the old, conservative discourse in which it is natural for men to deceive women with exaggerated love phrases and actions, such as in giving Z. de Mello an a l i a n f a (engagement ring) which she wore in public corn satisfafgto (with relish) without revealing her partner's identity. Ela ndo era 'a sua mulher inaugural, mas sua estr~ia nos sentimentos' can be seen, thus, as a naturalized, ideological speech act, to use De Souza's notion (1983). Such a speech act is characterized as establishing a commonsense, implicit relation of language with the values of a society or dominating group, helping therefore to reproduce unequal power relations. (4) "Infelizmente esta saida escapou ao nosso controle", Z61ia lhe escrevia agora: "Nfio adianta chorar o leite derramado. Caberia a n6s retomar as rddeas, corn a tinica atitude digna do nosso amor: assumir integralmente". ["Unfortunately this move has escaped our control", Zdlia now wrote to him: "No point crying over spilt milk. What we should do now is to regain control, with the only attitude worthy of our love: to assume it entirely".] B. Cabral had asked the former Minister to grant him two weeks to make up his mind, leave his wife and move to Z. de Mello's flat in Silo Paulo, but he did not fulfill his promise. In a letter to B. Cabral, then, Z. de Mello admits that esta sa[da escapou ao nosso controle (this move has escaped our control), in which she uses an inclusive possessive form, extending to herself what eventually was up to him alone to decide. By using this form, she could be attempting to escape the discourse of control and influence his decision. Another inclusive form, the first person plural pronoun n6s (we), is used in caberia a n6s retomar as rddeas (what we should do now is to regain control), reiterating the persuasive language used before and constructing discourse effects on her interlocutor. Being objective, that is pursuing a feature of the new discourse, Z. de Mello suggests to B. Cabral that they should not worry about what cannot be undone, and she proposes to him to take the only attitude digna do nosso amor (worthy of our love), in which the noun phrase nosso amor reiterates her persuasive interactive work on B. Cabral. In addition, it should be noted that this noun phrase provides this text with a particular presupposed intertextual meaning, relating Z. de Mello's story with other love stories in different discourse genres such as poems, novels, songs, soap operas. The proposed attitude is assumir (to assume) their love, a verb form which presupposes other love relations which are not assumed in the Brazilian social context, and, in fact, such a linguistic feature is a cue to the end of the story, in which B. Cabral behaves within what could be expected from conservative and moralistic discourse: he went back to his wife, abandoning Z. de Mello. (5) "Por nfio o terem feito, sobrara para o pals inteiro aquela imagem dos dois: ela, solteira, apaixonada; ele, casado, sedutor." ["By not having assumed it, there remained for the entire country that image of the couple: she, single, in love; he, married, seducer."]


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The use o f the noun phrase aquela imagem (that image) presupposes that the entire country believed that B. Cabral, Minister o f Justice, had seduced Z. de Mello, Minister o f Finance. Such behavior, however, even if not expected o f authorities, falls within commonsense, naturalized notions underpinning gender relations in Brazil. In Z. de M e l l o ' s text, therefore, the discourse of liberation coexists with the conservative discourse o f control, showing that, underlying new ways of speaking, the social structure o f gender relations in Brazil is still, to a great extent, kept within the boundaries o f a conservative discourse formation, 7 which sustains unequal power relations and keeps w o m e n as non-subjects. The reproduction o f these unequal power relations in gender takes place in commonsense, presupposing, ideological speech acts which guide the production and interpretation o f meaning in discourse.

4.3. Women's construction of a social place

In this section, I shall discuss briefly the relation between language and w o m e n in the construction of a social place by analyzing a text written by a w o m a n as a suggestion for the Brazilian Constitution o f 1988. This text was selected from a corpus o f 284 w o m e n ' s suggestions for the Constitution which I have analyzed elsewhere (Magalhaes, 1991). 8 The discourse o f liberation plays a significant part in the construction of w o m e n as citizens, as can be seen in text (6), written by a w o m a n in the 2 5 - 2 9 age group, from S~o Jos6 do Rio Preto, S~o Paulo. (6) "As mulheres brasileiras, hoje engajadas e atuantes nas discuss~Ses polfticas e tendo o merecido reconhecimento como trabalhadores importantes e fundamentais para a n a ~ o v~m reivindicar h Comiss~o da Constituiq~o uma reformulaq~o em suas jomadas de trabalho de oito para seis horas e uma aposentadoria corn 25 anos de serviqo em cadeira independente de onde tenha trabalhado." (Coded 60728L024578 in the SAIC data Serviqo de Apoio Informativo ~ Constituinte/Informative Support Service to the Constitution, organized by the PRODASEN/Data Processing Center at the Brazilian Parliament.) ["Brazilian women, today engaged and taking part in political discussions and deserving fair acknowledgment as important and crucial workers in the service of the nation demand from the Constitution Committee a reduction in their work shift from 8 to 6 hours and retirement after 25 years' work regardless of where they have worked."] Although other texts in this corpus indicate the coexistence o f the discourse of liberation, as exemplified in text (6), with the discourse o f control which has been considered in sections 4.1 and 4.2, I want to focus on some features o f the discourse of 7 The notion of discourse formation was developed by Foucault in terms of the set of historical rules which define, in time and space, the conditions of the function of utterances (1969: 153). 8 The corpus was selected from the data base SAIC - Serviqo de Apoio Informativo Constituinte/Informative Support Service to the Constitution (Brazilian Parliament), according to the following variables: (a) sex: female; (b) schooling: completed secondary school; (c) income: (c.1) no income; (c.2) 2-5 minimum wages; (d) age: (d.l) 25-29; (d.2) 30-39; (d.3) over 59. The 40-59 age group had to be left out due to the fact that it is a very large group, which gives rise to practical problems related to the limits of qualitative research.

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liberation in (6). These features, two noun phrases and a verb phrase, point to underlying presuppositions which oppose the discourse of control. The noun phrase as mulheres brasileiras engajadas e atuantes presupposes that all Brazilian women take part in political discussions, which is, in fact, not true. Actually, as I pointed out in section 2, there is a great difference between the cities and the hinterland and between literate and illiterate women, with schooling playing a major part in this respect. As to the second noun phrase, trabalhadores importantes e fundamentais, it presupposes that all Brazilian women have been acknowledged as 'important and crucial workers'. However, according to Su~ez (1992), the term trabalhadora (female worker) is not used at all in rural areas of Brazil, the verb phrase ajuda o homem (helps the man) being used instead. In addition, this text presupposes that all Brazilian women demand, as in the verb phrase v~m reivindicar (demand), which again is not true in relation to small towns and rural areas. Why is it that this text presupposes a woman's place in Brazil that has not yet come to be real as a countrywide achievement? The reason is that this text, like the previous ones that were analyzed, shows ideological uses of language; however, the difference is that here one does not find the conservative discourse of control. While the meaning of the two previous texts is constructed from the tension between the discourse of control and the discourse of liberation, the third text adopts as a persuasive mechanism the assumption that women have achieved political rights, and thus are entitled to the demand for their rights to be made explicit in the Constitution.

5. Conclusion Authier-Revuz (1984, 1990: 28) writes of heterogeneity in terms of other utterances or words which underlie the speech of a 'divided', 'split', 'decentered' subject. The first result derived from my analysis is that such heterogeneity guides presuppositions and commonsense assumptions of texts about women, as well as texts produced by women, in Brazil. Thus, behind the discourse of liberation, one registers the discourse of control which derives from the dominating gender of a basically patriarchal society, as analyzed in the story about Tina (4.1) and in Z. de Mello's story (4.2). To my mind, Critical Discourse Analysis is an extremely important approach which will throw light on the intricate, heterogeneous meaning which is constructed in these texts. By adopting such an approach, one can indicate linguistic processes which are determined by gender ideology. As Fowler and Kress note: "If linguistic meaning is inseparable from ideology,and both depend on social structure, then linguistic analysis ought to be a powerful tool for the study of ideological processes which mediate relationships of power and control." (1979: 186) Other investigators, such as Poynton (1985), Kress (1985), and Fairclough (1989), have suggested the applicability of the critical view of language to the analysis of gender relations.


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The second result of m y analysis is the finding that w o m e n have a social place in Brazilian society, but that this place is restricted to a particular discourse in the big cities. This f i n d i n g is revealed by the linguistic analysis of suggestions for the Constitution of 1988 (4.3). Further work must be done to define w o m e n ' s place vis-?t-vis the previous result, which points to heterogeneity in gender m e a n i n g , produced by unequal power relations.

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