Spanish Unity & Women’s Rights Achievements

This week I wanted to dedicate blog posts towards exploring gender equality. Due to the recent terrorist attacks, I feel compelled to bring Spain to the forefront of the discussion. This is because Spain has changed my life in more ways that I can even describe in just one blog post!

Barcelona
There is no end to beauty in Spain. From a paseo with a good amiga in Barcelona.

During college and after, I moved to two different cities in Spain (Granada and Madrid) and each time I go, I come back a different person. I will actually be there in less than two weeks and I can already foresee that it will do this to me again. In short, it is a place where I have grown as a person, and has made me the person I am today. The attacks in Barcelona today were devastating and due to my time living in the country, they pained me to read about them.

Part of the reason why I have always loved Spain is that they always seemed so progressive with their laws – did you know that it was one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage? Or that it is regarded as the most friendly country towards transgender people? When you visit these cities now, it seems as though the people they are spewing with love towards one another.

When it comes to women’s rights, Spain has room for improvement. As this article points out, a wage gap still exists in Spain (though better than Europe as a whole), domestic violence rates are still high (2014 legislation sought to change this), and women are still sometimes viewed as the “weaker sex.” However, that article also points out that their fascist dictator Francisco Franco died in 1975, which is then when Spain became a democracy. Today, more than half of parliament in Spain consists of women!

Having representation in government is just one of Spain’s achievements. They also have one of the best maternity leave policies (16 weeks, 100% paid time off). This is completely refreshing when you live in a country that has no paid maternity leave.

For a country that became a democracy such a short time ago, I think Spain has made tremendous strides towards equality. From speaking to Spanish friends, the country as a whole seems to be aware of its weaknesses, and hyperaware of political corruption. What happened to the beautiful city of Barcelona was pure evil, but I have no doubt that they will continue to be a unified group of people, continuing to improve their policies.

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Reading News in 2017: Disillusioned, Lazy, or Proactive?

Ever since the 2016 presidential election, reading the news in the U.S. has felt like walking on hot coals. Leading up to the election, a large amount of people that may not had even been interested in politics prior became hyperaware of what each political party represented.

People nowadays tend to fall into 3 categories:

1) People continuously involved with politics and highly engaged;

2) People who have “accepted” the election results and want to continue as normal; and

3) Those who are neither active nor accepting of the results, but don’t know how to proceed.

I think I am a bit of option 1 and 3 because listening to the news some days feels like it ignites a fire deep within to promote change, while also placing me into a bit of a paralysis. This isn’t too say that I’m immune to sheer laziness as well, but when it looks like no one is able to work together inside or outside of politics, it feels disillusioning.

I think one thing that we can do in the meantime, is to continue a conversation about accepting others as people regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and other types of classification. In light of recent events in Charlottesville, an organization that I suggest to promote racial justice in your neighborhood is called SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice). SURJ is a “multi-racial, cross-class movement centering people of color leadership” that organizes in most states in the U.S., including in the Boston area.

A Day to Remember: Boston Women’s March

Uplifting. Untifying. Those are the two words that immediately pop into my head when thinking about the Women’s March in Boston I attended on December 21. Though I may not be the best account of the March, seeing as I had to leave early and was unable to complete the actual marching, I can still describe the feeling that was evident while I attended the rally in the Boston Commons.

The night prior to the March, I was starting to think I would not go because I wanted to sleep in. However, that next morning I felt as though my body was being possessed to go to the March, and I am so glad I did!

I traveled to the March alone because I knew no one else going and coming from a conservative household, there was no way anyone from my family would join me. On the train to Boston, I made friends with a woman who told me about how she too was traveling alone because her husband and son were strongly against the women’s rights movement. She then proceeded to tell me a story about how her boss from the 80’s sexually assaulted her, prior to the laws shifting towards sexual harassment (thank you, Anita Hill).

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As you may notice, there were men in attendance. You can’t tell from this photo, but they were in abundance to support their ladies. 

When my new friend and I got to Boston, we joined people that she knew would be there and made our way into the Commons. We were too far away to hear the inspirational speeches but the chant of “March! March!” were heard ever so often. With the distance between me and the microphone, it allowed me people watch.

What I noticed is that there was no shoving when people needed to get by. Women were polite to one another. They were sharing their beads and other rally decorum. They were sharing their stories of prejudice and discrimination. Overall, women were hopeful. I saw a lot of people with signs protest Trump but the feeling that shook me was how you could almost feel the strength and energy bouncing off of other people. I couldn’t hear the mic very well, but that’s because everyone was huddled so close together! This closeness is metaphoric to the connectedness of the crowd.

I feel very lucky to have experienced the day even for the short time that I was there. I hope that someday, when this day is in a history book, my grandchildren will exclaim, “My grandma was there!” and know that I was part of a movement grown out of the love, to protect our country from imminent harm.

I do want to believe in our government and our President. Even though he sees the March as “fake news,” I hope he is actually internalizing the effects of this historic demonstration.

 

A Reminder that it is OK to Protest

“Why don’t these people stop protesting?”

After the election of Donald Trump by the people/the electoral college, there have been a number of Trump supporters who do not understand why people are protesting. If you lean left politically and are surrounded by like-minded individuals, you may not understand this. However, for those of us who know, or share DNA with, people who are Trump supporters, it won’t be unheard of for those people to be complaining about protesters.

A few things come across when I hear these statements. First of which is that as Americans, we have a First Amendment right to protest. It can be confusing for our country to so strictly interpret the Second Amendment right to bear arms and not hold freedom of speech to the same standard, especially when gun crimes take so many lives, and freedom of speech does not. The First Amendment is the pillar of our democracy and protesting is exercising this important right.

For those right-wingers thinking “duh,” I wanted to give you this reminder as a segway into the meaty reasons as to why people are protesting.*

  1. He does not come across as presidential in the vain sense. It is true he has no political experience so it can be understood that his speeches won’t sound as rehearsed, but all too many people believe that he looks like a “cheeto.” This is a far cry from the days of JFK. If you think this sounds stupid, remember that Nixon lost to JFK due to his appearance on the their last debate. Appearance aside, he has sounded belligerent during debates – not something you even want to look at for 4 years.
  2. He has bragged about sexually assaulting women and has had numerous women claiming that he has acted inappropriately towards them. Sure, they may be allegations but when they come in massive numbers, at least some of them statistically have to be true. Look at Bill Cosby. Also, studies have shown that 95% and upwards of sexual assault allegations are proven to be true.
  3. Having the KKK on your side is never a good sign. Republicans can say all they want that Trump did not want this support but if the KKK supports your ideal, then there is a problem.

Unfortunately, if I were to list out all of the reasons, this would no longer be a blog post but a book. I think it is important to remember that even if you voted for Trump, you CAN still be a good person, but more than half of the election voters (get it, because Clinton won the popular vote?) is simply upset because you voted for a person who represents racist, misogynistic, xenophobic ideals. If you supported him, even for reasons that you think are the “right reasons,” you encouraged a way of thinking towards our fellow humans that may set us back 50 years. If you believe this, then being angry and ready to protest is the most natural reaction!

*Note: This is a post about Donald Trump and not about Hilary Clinton. For those who may think that this post is intended to place Clinton on a pedestal, this is not my intention. This post is an explanation of why people have felt compelled to protest against Trump.

 

 

Debate Night Recovery

It’s been a few days after the election debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and it seems I am still recovering. Hours prior to the debate, I acquired anxiety, and for good reason. The debate was exactly as expected. I think what was simultaneously surprising and unsurprising was that the whole event reminded me of two children bickering. However, there were two things that struck a chord with me.

Firstly, the presenter Lester Holt could have asked Hillary Clinton more difficult questions. He could have pressed her about her ethics in regard to the email scandal and with the Benghazi attack in 2012. Though the email scandal was mentioned, it wasn’t as large as an issue to Holt, and even Trump did not press Clinton about the issue.

What I disliked the most coming from Trump is that he seems to completely disregard the Constitution, or has no idea what Constitutional means. For someone who kept talking about “law and order,” he ironically spent time at length discussing at lengths why he likes the “stop and frisk” method used by cops, which has been deemed unconstitutional. When those 90 minutes could be spent on other important issues such as climate change, Trump chose to spend his time discussing how stop and frisk was effective (so he claimed). He also kept interrupting Clinton when she was the one forming fully coherent statements, which was bothersome.

Overall, I feel like you didn’t learn much more than what was spoken at the Democratic and Republican conventions, but it proved even further who has the most polished speech skills. Though some might think that Trump is new to politics and we should empathize more for his speech skills, with his amount of money he should be able to afford a professional who could teach him proper speech delivery and etiquette.

I’m looking forward to the next debate! What else did you dislike or approve of?