“When I see what has been the practical result of our ancient struggles, I wonder if it is really worth doing something in life … it is true that there is no other country like ours to step back and move to the Middle Ages.” With this bitterness, Clara Campoamor wrote to María Telo in 1959 from Lausanne. Spanish women owe the vote to Clara Campoamor and to María Telo we owe legal equality. The correspondence between the two, accessible in the National Historical Archive, could be one of those resources to go ex officio to cite in the great speeches when we speak of homeland, memory, country, democracy. However, like almost everything that has women as protagonists, it seems to fall into oblivion, in a secondary place in the history of Spain.
Our democracy, which had parents of the Constitution, was also built on shameful silences and forgetfulness. Only in this way can it be explained that we link Campoamor with feminism but not so much with Spanish democracy. Only with silences can we explain how unknown the figure of María Telo is. Only with forgetfulness can it be explained that we do not know that there was a woman who gave herself to the fight for legal equality and to whom we owe that Spanish women could have a current account in a bank, a driver’s license or a man’s permission without permission from a man. the passport.
European democracies were built on the consideration of women as minors, as second-class citizens, and that idea seemed good for centuries. In Switzerland until 1971, no less. For decades it took strong, mobilized women, hunger strikes and even literally throwing themselves at the feet of the horses to win the right to vote for women. This Friday we commemorate the 90th anniversary of that political feat in which Campoamor won the vote for women and was therefore, in his own words, “fought with animosity.”
Clara Campoamor wrote that she came to feel hated in the Spanish Parliament for defending women’s suffrage. I wonder if, ninety years later, women MPs still feel hatred from the camera every time they speak to defend the obvious. Yesterday the vote for women, today that they do not kill us, that they do not rape us, that they leave us in peace to decide on our body. Women’s rights become common sense issues for the next generation, but no women’s rights have ever been won without fierce resistance.
Yes, we have had the vote since 1931, but it is 2021 and Spanish women already want equality in politics. And if equality is the absence of discrimination, the road ahead is more than evident. We have joint lists, but only 22% of the mayors or 13% of the provincial councils are headed by women. We are half of Parliament, but we want to go up to the rostrum without being insulted, harassed or intimidated as we speak. Without being called witch. Women want to dedicate ourselves to politics without having to choose between family or politics. Exercising politics in equality has to mean that women are judged on the performance of their task and not on their affective relationships or the clothes they wear.
“My law is the fight,” wrote Campoamor. Thanks to her and all the women who preceded us in the feminist movement, today we can vote and be elected. Now, the fight has to be to exercise our political rights in equality and without discrimination. Hopefully all the Spanish women responding to Campoamor’s letter to Telo: Yes, Clara, it was worth it.