Yesterday’s Lunch

Tolosa, August 14.
Day 20 of the March on Brussels. From Beasain, 18 km.

Dear people,

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.

The Basque letter 'A'. It has a roof.

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.

Street art in Ordizia

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

In Tolosa

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.


4 Comments on “Yesterday’s Lunch”

  1. Transon says:

    Qué fotos más bonitas… Especialmente la pintura de las personas de los abrigos.

  2. 4lex says:

    First of all, thanks for what you are doing (mainly for the march, but also for sharing your experiences). Actually, the second thing I should say is also thanks. This is really great. I hope that you will make it safely to Brussels, and that together we will make a lasting, significant difference.

    I think I need to chime in about feminism, from my perspective of a life in Spain and 3 years in an infoshop in Vancouver. I feel the situation you have encountered in Spain is not so special. It is true that under Franco women were very oppressed, but that was a long time ago and very many people have been educated differently. It is true that even today one of the big problems in society is man beating up their (ex)partners, but this is also true to a slightly larger or smaller degree in most countries in the world, and for maybe a decade we have been giving visibility to this problems in Spain on a big scale, while before this were “private matters”(!). Women in Spain are more oppressed than let’s say in other parts of Europe, but this is something we have been working on for many years, and not specially in the past few months.

    Feminism in Spain, as elsewhere, is seen by some as something from the past (either “they already have their rights! what else do they want?” or “let’s not be divisive: this is not particularly about woman’s oppression”, depending on who you speak to). Others, as elsewhere, are much more aware of the problems that are still there and that need both attention and a solution. Inclusive, assembly-based movements as the 15M tend to be aware of most of the problems at the same time, and they tend to look for integrated solutions, instead of specializing on a particular oppression and trying to fix that while ignoring the rest.

  3. I should come to spain, woman don’t like me in Belgium 😉

  4. Simon says:

    Hello Spanish Revolution ! I’m Simon, from Brussels. I’m making a small web documentary on the Indignados movement here in Belgium, and the marches converging to Brussels.
    I am trying to find some pictures of the marches and of the camps in Madrid.
    Would you agree to me using a few of yours ? I will put you in the credits, and send you the link when it’s finished.
    Many thanks, good work !

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