This paper’s object is to analyse one crucial moment of stress in the gender relationship in Rio de Janeiro, from the second half of the 19th century to late 1930. In this work, I attempt to review some of the forms of male opposition to the female claims for full participation in society. Men manifestes their opposition to such aspirations in different ways, from the more subtle justifications about female frailt, to the caustic, ironic, derisive tone of several discourses, seeking to ridicule those women who set out to claim their rights. Women, however, by availing themselves of subreptitious forms or acting directly through organizes movements, gradually built up their autonomy. Finally, the importance of carnival is emphasized, as a trial balloon for women to assume their bodies and sexuality, also in everyday life.