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New Left Review I/151, May-June 1985

Monica Threlfall

The Women’s Movement in Spain

It would be hard to consider the Spanish women’s movement independently of recent events in Spanish politics. [*] The author would like to thank the Vicente Cañada Blanch Fellowships Committee of the University of London, chaired by Dr Paul Preston, and the Department of Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck College for their support. My thanks also to María Teresa Gallego Mendez, Susan Saunders Vosper, Ludolfo Paramio and Jim Barry for comments on the draft of this article. The death of General Franco in 1975, the gradual dismantling of the authoritarian system imposed on the country after the Civil War, together with the rapid rise to power of the Socialist Party, psoe, all exercised a crucial influence on the way the movement evolved, shaping its achievements and failures. Therefore it will be fruitful to study the women’s movement from the point of view of its involvement in the political life of the country and its specific contribution to the democratization of society. This is not to overlook other approaches. An analysis of the nature of Spanish patriarchy, with its particular form of gender domination, and of the characteristics of Spanish capitalism, could also be used to explain the evolution of the movement. The situation of Spanish women is certainly also conditioned by the country’s level of economic development and the prevalent culture of feminine acquiescence and self-sacrifice. A third possibility would be to view Spanish feminism as part of the wider international women’s movement which has its own time and rhythm of development—that is, in terms of its share in the history of twentieth-century women’s liberation. Simply, at this relatively early stage of research and reflection on the Spanish movement, a political account is a necessary first step. It also best reflects my own experience as a member for five years of the psoe women’s caucus Mujer y Socialismo.

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