Friday, August 12

Bread, bulls and machismo

I don’t remember when was the first time I saw a bullfight, but I do remember the feeling. It was summer and in my memory the scene moves and undulates, as if separated from reality by one of those air screens that the heat of the afternoon turns into hallucination. Although maybe it was just the TV screen. Or the shocked look of a girl who was not yet old enough to understand cruelty. At that time, there were other things that I did not understand, such as that my cousins ​​could ride their bikes alone and I could not. Or like they asked me about something called “boyfriends”. Or like those ribbons that were sewn to my underwear. At that time, I wanted to understand the world but the world lacked logic. That man dressed in colors with a sword in his hand who, on the other side of existence, amused himself by torturing a helpless and frightened animal was a metaphor for my perception of the world. And my perception of the world was already stained with inequality.

In Pan y toros: Brief history of Spanish anti-bullfighting thought, an essay by Juan Ignacio Codina Segovia, whose second edition was published in 2021 by Plaza y Valdés with a foreword by Juan López de Uralde, there is a chapter dedicated to feminist thinkers who, throughout history and until today, they have positioned themselves against bullfighting. One of them was Cecilia Böhl de Faber who, in order to work, adopted the male pseudonym Fernán Caballero. In 1852, this illustrated author wrote about the importance of women revolting against bullfighting, claiming that “cruelty, in whatever way it presents itself, should find an ardent adversary in them, as well as in charity compassion and culture its auxiliary natives “.

His ideas anticipated the current care ethic, which Alicia Puleo defends in works such as Ecofeminism for another possible world and Ecofeminist keys for rebels who love the Earth and animals. According to the philosopher, bullfighting barbarism is part of the system of oppression that patriarchy imposes on society and, therefore, feminism should take an active role to combat it: “It is not a question of wanting bullfighting to remain an exclusively male world , not to applaud the admission of women to it, but to denounce the patriarchal bias of this bloody subculture, the abject logic of domination that legitimizes it, and demand its abolition. were devalued as feminine, if we wish to advance towards a society in which the autonomous subject does not need to dominate and humiliate to affirm his identity, nor is his satisfaction based on the extreme suffering and death of the Other, then feminism has something to say about the bullfights “.

Already at the end of the 19th century, Carolina Coronado alluded in her poem On the construction of new bullrings in Spain to bullfighting as a form of brutalization incompatible with civilization and the education of citizenship and, therefore, opposed to progress: “You escape from the Latin chairs / And in the bullrings you entrench yourself!”. At the same time, Emilia Pardo Bazán, who in her articles promoted what she called “culture of feeling”, with values ​​such as humanity, compassion or empathy at the center, denounced that bulls or “national dementia” represented quite the contrary: “In them you learn to be cruel, barbaric and inhuman.” Returning to the present moment, numerous renowned authors, journalists and activists such as Rosa Montero, Espido Freire, Lucía Etxebarria, Catia Faria, Angélica Velasco, Marta Tafalla, Aïda Gascón or the editors of the space in which this article is published have continued the work to practice and promote anti-bullfighting also from a gender perspective.

In addition to reviewing the relationship between the fight against bullfighting and feminism, Codina Segovia broadens the focus of attention by dividing it into different bursts. Each of these rays of light shines in an alternate direction. The roads multiply but the final destination coincides: it is about showing that Spain is not bullfighting. That this supposed patriotism made of bulls and olé that, for centuries, the most backward, uneducated and sexist sectors of the country have taken good care to build and maintain based on propaganda and manipulation, it is as easy to gin as it is difficult to eradicate. Revealing your lies is a good way to start. “Do you know the concept of controlled explosion?” The author writes in this regard. “Well, that’s the same thing. Bullfighting people have been analyzing anti-bullfighting thinking for years with the sole aim of detracting from it, relegating it or reducing it. Before the situation goes away. hands and explode in their faces, they make a controlled explosion and bury the anti-bullfighting that bothers them so much. ”

The author talks about four strategies that the bullfighting minority uses to discredit the anti-bullfighting majority: bullfighting, mitigation, denial and ridicule. One of the most famous victims of the first was and continues to be Francisco de Goya, Paco of the bulls for bullfighters. The painter denounced the cruelty of bullfights, portraying them in all their violence and horror, and yet the bullfighting sect continues to use his works to defend the opposite; even having evidence to prove it. Something similar happens with the writers Miguel Hernández, Azorín or with Emilia Pardo Bazán herself. It seems that national shame needs to give itself the prestige it does not have by dressing up with important names, as if that legitimizes it. The truth? That, although most of the illustrious figures born in Spanish territory declared themselves bullfighting, bullfighting would continue to be nothing more than a form of murder endorsed by the State and carried out by a handful of cowardly men who, by subduing the different – inferior, they would say them – feel less fragile in their toxic masculinity. Bullfighting is the opium of the misogynist. Bread and machismo.

With the name of the bull of Gijón Feminist very present, I face those monsters sitting in front of the keyboard, with the book in my hand and, as in that summer of my childhood, with my heart where it should be. And then I go back to that feeling, red and hot like covering your eyes to keep from crying. Suffocating; like an oppression. The difference is that now I know who holds the power.