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SPAIN: Women

The feminist problem in Spain became an explosive issue with the writer Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921), one of whose complaints was that no woman had ever been admitted to the Royal Academy. Last week a well-known woman writer died, but she was never admitted to the Royal Academy, even though she had received several major prizes.

At the same time, Pardo Bazán pointed out that women have played an important role in Spanish history and society, evidence of which is the fact that people use both the father's and the mothers's name, and, if the latter is less common that the first one, they are often known by just the last. Thus Pérez Galdós is known simply as Galdós.

This can lead to confusion. The new Secretary General of the Socialist Party is Rodríguez Zapatero, but he is commonly known as Zapatero, leading to some confusion about the Rodriguez part, as in our 7/23 posting DEMOCRACY: TV, Violence, Spain. We apologize and ask you to correct the entry.

What is the situation of women in Spain? Spanish TV has an unusual group of charming, well-spoken and well-educated young women anchors and reporters. They have recently carried a whole series of stories about the savage beatings of women by their husbands and companions. The government has set up a special telephone line for them, and encourages suffering women to complain. Several brutal husbands have been hauled into court. Good!

Africa begins in the Pyrenees? Spanish classical theater includes many "dramas of honor," in which a woman is killed because she is accused of bringing sexual dishonor on the family. This supposedly derives from the Arab tradition. Has it disappeared in these days when Spanish women have become emancipated?

Spanish women are outraged by a book just published in Barcelona by a writer of Arab origin. It tells how to beat your wife without leaving any traces on her body which could be used as evidence. A woman of Arab origin was interviewed on TV. She looked westernized, but she defended the custom of beating wives when they deserve it. Illegal immigrants from North Africa are flooding into Spain. and probably the women share this viewpoint. A women's lib movement in Morocco is greatly outnumbered by a conservative feminist movement. Immigrants provide cheap labor but they also bring in their own mores.

Ronald Hilton - 7/24/00