Putting gender on the agenda in Rio de Janeiro

subtly switching gears in discussions of bicycle advocacy


  • Naomi Orton Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)
  • Liana de Andrade Biar Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)




social movements, narrative analysis, gendered performances, violence, postfeminist


Considerable scholarly attention has been devoted to the investigation of language and gendered performances in the workplace, particularly in the Global North. However, as yet few studies have examined such dynamics in the context of contemporary social movements. Drawing on (auto)ethnographic observations and audio recordings, this article takes a critical look at the negotiation of meaning in public debates held by bicycle advocates in Rio de Janeiro. The gendered performances which arise from small stories suggest that female participants find themselves in a ‘double bind’ as they seek to raise awareness of the gendered violence they experience whilst simultaneously adhering to the discursive norms of the movement. Such performances may be understood as characteristic of a postfeminist sensibility in which everyday violence is mitigated in order to project a courageous, resilient subject undeterred by such threats.

Author Biographies

Naomi Orton, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)

Naomi Orton holds a PhD in Language Studies from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), where she is currently a postdoctoral fellow and member of the research group NAVIS (Narrative and Social Interaction). Her research interests include the interplay between language, gender and violence, particularly within the context of social movements.

Liana de Andrade Biar, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)

Liana de Andrade Biar obtained her PhD in Language Studies from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), where she is currently a professor and researcher as well as coordinator of the Postgraduate Programme in Language Studies. She further coordinates the research group NAVIS (Narrative and Social Interaction), as part of which she investigates contexts of social asymmetry drawing on narrative analysis and talk-in-interaction.


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How to Cite

Orton, N., & Biar, L. de A. (2021). Putting gender on the agenda in Rio de Janeiro: subtly switching gears in discussions of bicycle advocacy. Gender and Language, 15(4), 447–475. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.19988