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Spanish ‘herstory’ retold: The women who got lost in the past
10 March 2019 @ 13:28

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day on Friday was more than just a global strike and protest calling for equal rights – every year, it’s essentially a celebration of the brilliance and talent of 50% of the population (men get their turn on November 19), of what girls and ladies can do if they dare to dream, put humanity and hope before self-doubt, and make a conscious decision to be the best version of themselves they can be. This may be in sports, arts, their work; perhaps in caring for their children, animals or relatives; it could be in changing the world for the better in tiny steps or in big leaps; or maybe in being the best friend or partner they can – or perhaps just in having the most fun. Celebrating women on March 8 doesn’t mean trashing men, just as celebrating Father’s Day doesn’t mean trashing mothers, or vice versa: it’s merely a day for focusing on all that’s great about those born with XX genes, or who identify as female.

It’s also a day for remembering those women who should have graced whole chapters of history books but who, given that ladies were considered an inferior species until recent decades both socially and legally, have never found their fame.

Spain is as guilty as every other country in the world; pioneers, saviours and female talent in major artistic and literary movements have often remained in oblivion until now, and are only just finding their voices, some of them centuries after their deaths.

The name on the lips of everyone who mentioned women in history on Friday was Clara Campoamor (first picture), (1888-1972), a lawyer and feminist activist who fought fiercely for female rights; arguably, she’s the most famous of all Spain’s historical ladies. But scratch the surface and you’ll find plenty more who precede and follow her – and here is just a smattering of a small handful of those who should be household names.


Golden girls

Mention Spain’s Siglo de Oro (‘Golden Age’, or literally ‘century of gold’) and a flood of literary and artistic greats pop up: Miguel ‘Don Quijote’ de Cervantes, obviously; Lope de Vega, Quevedo, Calderón de la Barca and Tirso de Molina, whose works are still on the literature curriculum today; Zurbarán, Murillo, Velázquez, Ribalta, Ribera and, naturally, El Greco, whose paintings take pride of place in galleries and churches across the country…but have you noticed they’re all men?



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