FEATURE5 June 2024

Machismo’s reckoning? Sexism in Spain

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Sexism came to the fore with an infamous kiss at the Women’s World Cup final last year. Sabine Stork, Silvia Artiñano and Diana Regidor explore the divides in Spanish society.

Sexism protest in Spain

Last summer, Spain seemed the epitome of a socially progressive European nation.

An Ipsos survey published in March 2023 found that 53% of Spaniards professed to be feminists, the highest proportion in Europe. In addition, the country has a higher percentage of female parliamentarians than the UK or the US.

Then came the Fifa Women’s World Cup, won by a much-acclaimed Spanish team. And then came that kiss. The then head of the Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales’ move to grab Spain forward Jenni Hermoso and kiss on her lips made headlines around the world. He later resigned and Hermoso filed a criminal sexual assault complaint against him.

Unlike in other countries, Spain’s ideological divisions are highly visible on the streets and in out-of-home advertising. During last year’s election, Madrid’s Plaza de Callao became the stage for the so-called ‘Battle of the Banners’, where ...