St. Lawrence University
Laurel Hurd, St. Lawrence University Class of 2016 - Summer Research Fellow
July 28, 2015


In the past 40 years, feminism in Spain has seen many shifts in a world that is ever changing. Feminist movements from all over have been long misunderstood, making them hard for people to support. Many still associate the word feminism with giving women special privileges instead of creating equality between men and women, causing a resentment toward the movement. In 1975, when the General and Dictator Francisco Franco’s rule came to an end, Spain entered a transition phase. The main transition that took place was the conversion to democracy, but with that transition came many other progressive changes. “During the so-called ‘movida madrileña,’ a late-1970s countercultural movement that upended the repressive sexual and political taboos of General Francisco Franco’s fascist regime, filmmakers such as Pedro Almodóvar helped cultivate feminist thought in Spain and bring it into mainstream culture” (Bécquer Seguín, In These Times, May 13, 2015). These initiatives were shot down by conservative forces in the country, making it hard for the Spanish people to accept the films made by Spain’s most renowned contemporary director. Thirty years after the fact, feminist activism still faces opposition. Even with movements like the indignados, which took to the streets in 2011 claiming a radically progressive agenda, feminist ideologies were still not promoted. It is possible that feminists have received a cold shoulder from Spain due to the country’s deep-rooted conservative culture.   

In Spain, feminist movements have a tendency to pair up with like-minded political parties who take similar stances on their issues. When Franco fell and democracy came into power, many feminists aligned themselves with the center-left Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE). Other groups from the left-wing, such as Partido Feminista (Feminist Party), tried to establish their own socialist parties but had very little luck competing with parties like PSOE. One of the most recent Spanish political parties to form was Podemos, a radical group of academics fed up with the government, trying to change Spain’s political system. Even a party claiming such a progressive campaign is still criticized for insinuations that the movement isn’t quite as pro-feminist as one might think, despite their close relations with feminist grassroots movements. Even seen through the primaries for the Autonomous Election in February 2015, of the 17 autonomous communities, only 4 candidates were women (Cooper, Open Democracy, 2015). Regardless of the criticism it has received, Podemos has taken many steps forward on the feminist front, creating its own activist feminist group and putting measures in place to limit gender imbalance. Part of the struggle faced today in Spain is defending rights that have already been won but are now being threatened again, such as abortion. Many of the stickers here make reference to this issue, advocating for pro-choice, more resources for women, and an end to gender violence.