It’s Spain’s historic and widespread feminist movements that caused the Rubiales case to explode

Author: Leah Pattem

Within minutes of Luis Rubiales’ non-consensual kiss of Jennifer Hermoso during the world cup final medal ceremony, videos and images of the incident went viral and the Spanish people began demanding his sacking.

A few days later, Rubiales gave a foolishly arrogant speech refusing to resign, claiming the kiss was “consensual” and “a little peck” and said demands for him to step down were like a “witch-hunt”. His mother agrees and, in desperation and devotion to her son and the powers of God, has tragically locked herself inside her local church and begun a hunger strike.

Jenni Hermoso strongly denies Rubiales’s claim that she agreed to the kiss, saying that she felt “vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out-of-place act”. The entire football team went on strike, and most of coach Jorge Vilda’s staff offered to resign too.

Acting minister María Jesus Montero pledged that the government would work to ensure Rubiales no longer has a job running Spanish football, and Yolanda Díaz, a deputy prime minister in Spain’s caretaker government, explained we’re witnessing “the worst of Spanish society [and] of the structural machismo of this country”.

Rubiales set out with vanity and confidence that he could fight what he called “fake feminists” and seemed to have the support of many of his colleagues who applauded him during his speech. Those same men are now also being scrutinised for their machismo behaviour.

As the weeks progress, FIFA have suspended Rubiales, the government is working on a criminal case against him, and he’s now gone silent. Meanwhile, the media are calling the Rubiales case Spain’s ‘#metoo’ moment, but is it?

Spain’s feminist movement is already well established and we are on the global map for many progressive actions over the years: Spain was one of the first countries in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, the first in Europe to have a menstrual-leave law, and we have equal parental leave for men and women.

Access to abortion here is so much better than neighbouring countries that Spain actually receives abortion tourism. We also have a ministry of feminism which has pioneered progressive legislation on rape, gender violence and equal pay.

It’s because of Spain’s historic and widespread feminist movements that the Rubiales case has exploded.

Yes, there is still a lot of machismo culture ingrained within many of Spain’s institutions and communities and there is much work to be done, but if it weren’t for the Spanish people taking to the streets and social media, and creating new protest chants and slogans, Rubiales would never have hit the headlines and the newspapers would surely have moved on by now.

Spain as a society will not stop until Rubiales steps down and apologises for his pattern of machismo behaviour, nor will we stop until machismo is as dead as Rubiales’ football career. Spain is the champion of the Women’s 2023 World Cup – and of feminism.


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