Portuguese president’s sexism controversy

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa denied on Sunday that his comments about a young Canadian woman’s cleavage were sexist, explaining that he did so because of the cold weather after a video sparked controversy this weekend , it has gone viral.

Rebelo de Sousa looked surprised when asked a question by a Portuguese journalist accompanying him on a state visit to the North American country. “Don’t tell me, I don’t even know what I’m commenting on,” he said.

Rebelo de Souza added in a statement to the media in Toronto: “This was not a sexist comment and I did not expect it, either to that young woman or to those old ladies. It was not sexist at all.”

The scene, captured by television cameras, occurred as Rebelo de Souza took a walk to meet members of Canada’s Portuguese community.

Once, the Portuguese president stopped to talk to a mother and daughter and said to them sarcastically: “My daughter is prettier than her mother, and your daughter also has a cold. Don’t you see anything?” Like? “Your collar?”

Video of that moment went viral, and criticism of the 74-year-old Portuguese head of state has not stopped.

Rebelo de Souza said Sunday that while he was walking through Montreal’s Portuguese neighborhood – although Portuguese media had previously reported it was in Toronto – it started to rain and it was cold, so he warned ” Several older ladies, one with gray hair, and some younger.

“I told several people, but apparently only the young woman was recorded, ‘Be careful because they can still catch a cold, I have a cold,'” he concluded.

“I told several people but apparently only the young woman was recorded (…) I had a cold”

Several political parties have reacted to this weekend’s events in Portugal.

One of the founders of the environmental party Livre, Ray TavaresIn a statement to Portuguese newspaper Publico on Sunday, it said the comments did not represent the President of the Republic’s responsibility “to defend the people’s right to autonomy and respect the elections of their compatriots.”

He argued that Rebelo de Souza’s words “ultimately put a fellow countryman in a position where she had no choice, which is likely to be uncomfortable.”

Inês de Sousa Real, a spokesman for the animal rights party PAN, said the president should clarify whether his comments had “no malicious intent” and “stress the importance of not normalizing these comments.”

“We recently mobilized in Spain and the international community on the Rubiales case,” the spokesman recalled.

He continued: “We’re not here to equate the seriousness of the situation, but the fact is, we can’t forget that we live in a world where domestic violence and sieges are quite serious, and a lot of the time it’s words that don’t mean any harm. .can be seen as legitimizing conduct with other intentions”.

De Souza Real and Tavares responded after Socialist Party General Secretary Isabel Moreira made the remarks on the social network X (formerly Twitter) on Friday evening.

“The concept is self-explanatory. It’s 2023. This is not a woman you don’t know who is being told a ‘joke’ about her weight. This is not a ‘joke’ about her cleavage. If you don’t understand, Who would tell you? “That’s PR (an abbreviation for public relations in English), learning. and apologize. Sexism kills us. This is not a joke,” Moreira concluded.

“Sexism will kill us. It’s not a joke”

This is not the first time that Rebelo de Souza has been the subject of such controversy, as he caused a stir last weekend with some of his comments during a visit to the Alentejo region, when he gave up his seat to a woman and asked if “the chair can Let it go?”

The leader of Portugal’s far-right party Chega André Ventura also joined in the criticism of Rebelo de Sousa.

“If I were to comment on a woman’s cleavage in public, we would have received dozens of complaints at the ERC (Social Communications Regulator), the Attorney General’s Office and I don’t know how many associations and observatories on gender equality,” Ventura wrote on the X network on Saturday.

The president’s party, the Social Democrats (center-right), has not yet commented on the controversy.

Rebelo de Sousa already caused controversy at the end of August when he commented on the kiss incident between then Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales and footballer Jennifer Hermoso, saying it was “a small issue” If compared to the war in Ukraine.

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