Marina just left a long comment on our recent article about Spanish women and their inherent ‘feistiness’, known here as carácter. I think it is a valuable contribution, and worth posting here:
“Of course there are plenty of Spanish women who are not fiesty, but funnily enough, if I look at a lot of our foreign friends that have a Spanish girlfriend/wife, without exception they are all strong and full of Spanish character 🙂
I think to look at the reason for this, Franco or no Franco, we have to look back at least 30 years, and even a bit longer. For a person around my age (32) the difference in freedom and opportunities that our mothers had in their youth compared to ours is massive (I reckon that even my grandmother enjoyed more freedom than my mother when she was young). Being able to see how women have worked for their men and children, giving all of their time in usually not very rewarding tasks, makes one appreciate much more the freedom and opportunities that women enjoy nowadays, and I guess that makes us very protective and defensive about it. I guess what happens in general is that we apply the same protection to other matters in life as well, for example if someone jumps the queue. But here we should also take into account that Spanish society is a complaining society: The Spanish, in general, love complaining and do so, both men and women, in a much direct way than people from other countries.
Going back to equalityâ€¦ from what I’ve seen in England, for English women my age equality is not a big issue, mainly because they take it for granted. And even if in Spain, at least when I was a teenager, we looked at the North European women with admiration regarding equality, I’ve seen a few examples of chauvinist behaviour in young English couples that I wouldn’t accept, nor would most of my friends. One good example is taking your husband’s name when you marry. I know it is a cultural thing, but in Spain most of the women would laugh at that possibility. Even today parents can choose the order of their children’ surnames – people in Spain take two surnames, usually the father’s one comes first and then the mother’s one, but nowadays you can choose to put the mother’s one first.”