Of course you know by now that I have a true fascination for Spanish language and culture and Spain continues to one of my favourite destinations. Spain is a fascinating country, a modern Western European country, anchored in a long history that was shaped by many different cultures, first and foremost the Ancient Romans and the Moors.
This contrast between the modern and the traditional has always fascinated me and I thought I'd ask a local to give me a bit of an idea of what Spanish life and culture is really like today. So here is Karla, my expatriate friend from Ontario, providing us with her own personal and frank insights about life in Spain:
Hi Karla, nice to talk to you again and thanks for the opportunity to give us further insights into life in Spain.
1. Machismo is a Spanish term and most Latin countries are known for their male-dominated attitudes. Does machismo still exist in Spain and if so, how does it manifest itself? What is the role of modern women in Spain, what opportunities and hurdles do they face? What is today’s relationship between men and women in Spain?
Machismo is a problem in Spain. The current government is taking drastic steps to bring about solutions. Modern women have lots of options – if they are educated… however, there is an entire generation of women – who didn’t get an education. Education is at the root of domestic problems all over the world – not just in Spain.
2. Last year you launched a “Stop domestic violence campaign” through your Women in Business Club – www.wibc-spain.com. Please tell us a bit about the background of that campaign and what is involved.
Women who have moved to my area were not aware of the domestic problems of their newly adopted country. In reality I find that most people who move to Spain don’t have any clue about the culture, history, politics – nothing. Any way, our local government had set up a Women’s Shelter and was running an aggressive program. The Shelter needed help to survive finanicially. I set up a club of women to help these women. While we were fundraising we also raised awareness.
3. You once made an observation that pets are treated very poorly in Spain. Please comment on that.
These problems stem from the same root – no education. Animals are not domesticated by most Spaniards. They don’t see animals as “pets”. There is a primitive attitude towards animals. The don’t believe that an animal can have a spirit, hence they treat them without respect.
This is not all of Spain, but the parts of Spain were life has been hard. Spain has been through a lot over the past years, and the people have had to socially reform very rapidly. There are many in the city centers who have adjusted to a peace time lifestyle while others in rural areas have not.
4. From what I understand, the role of the family is very important in Spain. How does it compare to family life in North America?
Families in Spain – well – I think they are just as dysfunctional as any modern family anywhere in the world. I haven’t come across a “normal” Spanish family yet.
5. Spain used to be a very religious country. What is the role of the Catholic Church today?
I have no idea what is the role of the Church anymore. They don’t seem to be getting their way – if that is what you mean. Same sex marriages are going to be approved by the new government, and already 10 day divorces are available. The Church has revoked a bit, but not much. I guess they will have to undergo reforms – like the rest of Spain – in order to stay in the EU.
Thank you, Karla, for your sharing your candid viewpoints with us.
Susanne Pacher is the publisher of a website called Travel and Transitions (http://www.travelandtransitions.com ). Travel and Transitions deals with unconventional travel and is chock full of advice, tips, real life travel experiences, interviews with travellers and travel experts, insights and reflections, cross-cultural issues, contests and many other features. You will also find stories about life and the transitions that we face as we go through our own personal life-long journeys.
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The interview with photos is published at Travel and Transitions - Interviews