Yesterday’s LunchPosted: August 14, 2011
Something wasn’t quite right with yesterday’s lunch. It woke me up early this morning, and I was reminded by it all through the day. I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t finished my plate, but most people have developed a strong stomach after weeks of marching.
Fortunately today was a short leg. Even though for me, it shouldn’t have been any longer than it was. The worst thing was the arrival. In the square they had prepared a long table, covered by numerous appetizers from salt to sweet and everything in between. Nuts, fruit, biscuits, tortilla and whip cream pastries. It was awful. I wanted it all, but I had to be reasonable. “Don’t eat this”, a comrade says, “it only makes it worse. And don’t eat this either. Here, have a banana.”
He’s right, so it sit down, and like a good boy, I eat my banana.
Watching the signs and listening around, I have noticed a discrepancy in the Basque country. Indications are exclusively or primarily in Basque, but most of the locals I hear speak Spanish. The Basque language isn’t spoken by everyone. Especially in the three major cities, the population consists of many immigrants from other parts of Spain, attracted by the economic wealth of the region. Furthermore, the Basque language is a collection of various dialects, which have only recently been standardised. For many people this makes it feel a bit cold and artificial.
Language is a very peculiar phenomenon in Spain. It enters in the reign of political correctness. You shouldn’t speak about ‘Spanish’. The language is called ‘Castilian’, also to distinguish it from the other four official languages of the country. Catalan, Euskara, Galician and Valencian.
In our movement as well, political correctness is very important. With regard to language as a whole, and with regard to its use. From the very beginning of the revolution people have been asked to use an ‘inclusive’ language. This means that in speach you address both genders.
In English this problem doesn’t exist. ‘We’ is we, and ‘you’ is you. In Spanish, like in other latin languages, these forms can be both male of female. ‘Vosotros’ (‘you’ plural) refers to a group of people which includes at least one male. ‘Vosotras’ refers to a group consisting exclusively of females. The same goes for bisexual nouns.
Grammatically it would suffice to address an assembly by saying ‘Good evening compañeros.’ But the preferable way is to be explicit: ‘Compañeras y compañeros’. In written comunicados this could be a bit weighty, so the problem of inclusiveness is solved by an ‘x’ or a ‘@’: ‘Queridxs compañer@s’
When I arrived in Sol I was surprised to find a Commission called ‘Feminism’. I didn’t know feminism still existed. But in the end it was completely logical, because in Spain feminism hadn’t really existed before like elsewhere. Up until the death of Franco in 1975, the social position of women was comparable to that of women in many Arab countries today. They were educated to serve their husband, to raise children, to be beautiful and to shut up.
Today, machismo is still very common among the older generation. As is violence against women. The feminist side of the revolution is aimed at changing the machist mentality and urging women to speak up.
Many women in Spain, who weren’t able to participate in the sexual revolution of the sixties because of the dictatorship, have been waiting for this for many years. For them, our movement is the Spanish ‘68. And they love us.