Sex and the Spanish single lady
Spanish women have seen significant advances towards equality in recent years. With a government in power passing various laws to promote equality, progress has been made. But they still have one pending revolution: emotional independence.
By Sonia Alegre
Madrid is full of women who are beautiful, intelligent, financially independent, over 30 and…single. It seems particularly hard for these single ladies to find their partner for life. With a ratio of 1.07 men to women and a deeply entrenched Catholic culture that promotes traditional family values, what’s behind this trend, if it’s not the numbers?
Society and culture tell us we should all dream of finding a soul mate to spend our lives with and create a family, but the rules of the game have changed. Women no longer have to put up with things they don’t want. They don’t have to depend financially on a man. Their place in society does not depend any more on being someone’s wife. Yet many of them long for a man: a man who will treat them as an equal human being that wants to be loved, cared for and respected; not a prince who will come along and rescue them from… nothing.
And yet they are finding that there are still double standards for men and women when it comes to sexuality. In a Catholic country in which the only female role models are either Mary Magdalene or the Virgin Mary, there isn’t much room for women to be considered full human beings with full equal rights, including, of course the right to being a sexual being. For better or worse, culture has its roots deeply embedded in individuals minds. Spanish single women are finding out that expressing their sexuality with whom they want to and when they want to -or sleeping around if you prefer- leads to punishment: the punishment of being neglected and ignored by men.
Sara, 32, returned to Spain after living abroad for 10 years. Her first boyfriend was American. After that, she had a few affairs, nothing special. She will never forget her first experience with a Spanish man: “I went to a Democrats Abroad party and met a wonderful, funny, witty, good-looking and single Spanish guy. We were enjoying each other’s company so much that I decided to spend the night with him. When he finished, he almost literally kicked me out of his bed. By chance, the next day I ran into him face-to-face at a party. He ignored me and pretended to have never seen me before. I found out he wasn’t married or anything like that. I didn’t understand. Is there something wrong with sleeping with someone or what?”
Ignoring a woman after having slept with her seems to be common in Spain. Sara continues: “I thought maybe it was just one bad experience and moved on. But I ended up having too many more similar experiences. Nowadays, I can’t be bothered any more with men here. I have given up on dreaming that I will ever meet a man that I can have sex with and a conversation with afterwards. I’m not asking for a relationship, but some respect wouldn’t hurt. I’m really not in the mood to be mistreated again. Sex is something natural to be enjoyed by two, not just one. I see nothing wrong with sex as long as it’s between two adults and consensual. I’m starting to think that Spanish guys have issues with women that have sex”.
Is porn to blame?
Silvia, 35, has an interesting theory about why Spanish guys are so disrespectful towards women who have sex because they want to: “My generation grew up watching Canal Plus porn on Friday nights. Most of the men in the 30-to-40 bracket that I have slept with have asked me to act and behave like those porn women. And, I’m sorry but it turns me off completely, I know my body and what it likes. I’m sorry but no, those things hurt me, degrade me and do not give me pleasure at all. I have tried to tell them how I like to be touched but they keep on saying they know better. How can they think they know better than me what I like and what I don’t?”
For Mariela, 43, things haven’t been much more romantic either. “Since I turned 35, going on a date seems kind of like a utopia. First thing they ask me is my age. Then they continue with a patronising ‘hey, don’t fall in love with me’. Who do they think they are? I just do not tell them my age any more. I know guys ask my friends how old I am but I just refuse to tell them my age.” She adds: “Why don’t I deserve respect? Is it just because I am not going to be the mother of their children so therefore sex is the only thing they can take from me? If they just want sex but are not willing to have it on equal terms, why don’t they just pay for a prostitute?”
But Ana, 42, has discovered a niche group of Spanish men that seem not to have issues about having sex with a woman and being able to respect her afterwards: divorced men. “At least you can have a steady affair. Since they have already lived with a woman, and they usually have kids and know they are not financially an eligible bachelor, they treat you with respect and care. Some of them are even open to a serious relationship! Being 42 I know that my chances of biologically being a mother are very slim, so I don’t mind any more that they usually don’t want any more children.”
Of course, when there are lots of single Spanish ladies, there are also lots of Spanish single men. And they voice one common complaint. “Women are desperate and hungry to marry and have children”, says Juan-Pablo, 45. “I feel they just want to hunt me for my money and position.”
But Sara, Silvia, Mariela, Ana and many others don’t need to “hunt” for anything: they have university degrees, careers and financial independence. “I don’t want a man to support me financially, I just want to share the path of life with someone and I’m not going to settle for anyone that doesn’t consider me an equal,” says Ana, who paints an unappealing picture of motherhood in Spain. “I look at my friends that have just had their first baby and they are all miserable. Their husbands’ lack of involvement in the house and with the babies is killing them emotionally and exhausting them physically.”
Mariela continues: “The problem is that we don’t need them anymore, we want them, but don’t need them.”
Sexual and emotional losers
As long as men continue to think women’s ultimate goal is to hunt down a husband, or that there are women to have fun with and women to have children with, or that it’s a woman’s duty to bring up the children and take care of the house, there will be a surfeit of single women and single men in Spain. Spanish single men will continue missing out on sharing their lives with equal human beings; they will continue being paranoid that any woman that approaches them only wants their status; they will continue missing out on sharing sexual experiences with another human being. Spanish single women, on the other hand, are embarking on women’s pending revolution: achieving emotional independence.
Many women are starting to cut themselves off from the emotional need of a man in their life. They are learning that there is life without a man: they are taking good care of themselves, enriching their lives with different activities, seeing the value of friendship with other women and dedicating their time to doing the things they like.
But with the birth rate dropping, what we don’t know yet is who is going to give birth to the next generation of Spaniards. Unfortunately, most of these single Spanish women won’t be able to afford having babies on their own (average salaries are still too low in Spain to be able to raise one child on one salary). It’s time for men and governments to wake up too.
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Published: Mar 15 2011
Category: Featured, Iberoblog
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
Short URL: http://iberosphere.com/?p=2343
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Tags: feminism, gender equality, prostitution, relationships, sex, single spanish women, spain, spain pornography, spain sex, spanish culture, spanish prostitution