Pentecostalism and Women in Brazil
This chapter reviews the broad assertions in the literature concerning the benefits that women receive from Pentecostal conversion. These assertions tend to focus on new roles for both women and men and the ways in which these changes benefit women. Drawing on field research in Brazil, the chapter describes the changes experienced by female Pentecostals in their basic conceptions of themselves as individuals and as believers. It argues that although female Pentecostal believers cannot be considered "feminists"—especially in the sense of mainstream North American feminism—the conversion experience does lead to a revaluing of the self in relation to God and others that increases women's autonomy and undermines traditional machismo. Pentecostalism appears to redefine the relationship between gender and public versus private spaces. The literature on Pentecostalism and gender has interpreted the puritan restriction of masculine behavior as a victory for women and an extension of their rights.