Essay on The Role of Women in Spain

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The Role of Women in Spain


The field of women's studies has tried to restore the place of women in history by looking at a wide range of women's roles and achievements in different historical periods. For example, Sanchez and Saens' (1996) compilation about Spanish women during the golden age explored the lives not only of queens but of women artisans and female religious figures. What is clear from these explorations is that women's lives were complex and their roles ambiguous, in some instances. Although the dominant culture of that age subordinated women, women's own efforts often allowed them to create some space for achievement and fulfilment.

There is some evidence, however, that women's position declined after
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Women were not able to inherit property, they were not able to engage in business on their own behalf, they were not able to gain custody of their children, nor divorce their husbands, nor protect themselves effectively from domestic abuse. Women could not have bank accounts, nor could they travel any distance without permission from their husband's. They were expected to marry and remain married no matter what their situation. They fundamentally had no identity separate from their father's or their husband's, and juridically they were property of their husband's.

Yet, there were vestiges of the liberal thinking that Franco had defeated during the Spanish Civil War. The students, as always, remained rebellious and full of ferment. There were women's organizations, which gradually came into existence, including the Legally Separated Women's organization and a women lawyers' group. There was the Falange, which was acceptable under Franco, because it was a conservative women's group. They did not approve of changes in marriage and family law, although they did support changes in women's position in the community, and increases in women's political rights (Yglesias, 1977).

Toward the end of Franco's reign, the stringent enforcement of women's roles and place began to break down. James Michener might have been one of the first to notice this phenomenon with his discussion of the work of the actress