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"Witch", "whore", "woman of": the other side of parity


There are more and more women politicians, but they still receive unequal treatment. Leaders of different ideologies denounce sexist attacks and reflect on the resignation of the Prime Minister of New Zealand

On the verge of tears, Jacinda Ardern, 42, announced on January 19 that she was stepping down as New Zealand's prime minister with no plans on the horizon other than "spending more time with family."

“I know what it takes to do this job, and I know that I no longer have enough energy to do it well.

It's that simple,” she said.

It is?

Feminism, the philosopher Celia Amorós has affirmed, does not question the individual decisions of women, but rather their motives.

Helen Clark, New Zealand's prime minister from 1999 to 2008, has said that Ardern faced "an unprecedented level of hatred and venom" during her tenure.

"People want a prime minister, not a model," explained a 66-year-old man who started an online campaign against her.

“Show that you are more than a lipstick on a pig”,

He publicly asked for an economist.

Did Jacinda Ardern leave or was she kicked out of it?

Electoral expectations of her were not good.

Did the party push her?

Her environment of her?

Would a man make a similar speech?

Any relinquishment of power arouses curiosity, suspicion.

In the case of Ardern, who in 2017, at the age of 37, became the youngest woman to lead a State, she also opens a debate: Is it harder to be a politician than a politician?

Do they receive the same treatment as their male colleagues?

The data confirm that in Spain progress has been made towards parity —today there are 14 female ministers (60.87%) in the Government;

four female presidents (21.05%) and 94 regional councilors (48.7%);

149 deputies (42.69%);

82 female senators (39.42%) and 1,806 female mayors (22.26%)— but not so much in equality.

If they reach an agreement, it is sometimes said that they are involved with their interlocutor.

Only they can be too well dressed or poorly dressed.

Only they get fat.

Only they lose their surname —Soraya, Maleni, Yolanda...— when they enter politics.

The method is old —the socialist Alfonso Guerra called Soledad Becerril, prime minister since the Second Republic, “Carlos II dressed as Mariquita Pérez”;

the first time that Carmen Alborch, who died in 2018, entered the chamber, a group of deputies whistled as if she had just passed in front of a construction site—, but it is still valid.

Policies from different eras, territorial areas and parties reveal to EL PAÍS daily examples of that different yardstick that has sometimes led them to think of throwing in the towel as the Prime Minister of New Zealand has just done.

Yolanda Díaz, in an act of Sumar on January 14 in Barcelona.

Gianluca Battista

Yolanda Díaz (Vice President of the Government for United We Can and leader of the Sumar platform).

“We have all been made headlines about our physique.

It is exhausting".

He was going with his daughter when a group of men from the bullfighting sector hit his car in July 2020 and yelled at him: "You fucking whore!"

A news outlet recently decided that a photo of her getting a pedicure was news.

“All women politicians have made headlines about our physical appearance, our clothes, our children, our tan, our nails… They have called me ugly, blonde…, they have said that I went ahead with the agreements because I was a partner of one, they have patronized me, especially in the beginning, and even now they constantly tell me what to do.

It is exhausting”, explains the second vice president of the Government, 51 years old.

She asked how these attacks affect her and if she ever thought about quitting, she affirms:

"Sow", "slut" and "shit red" shout while savagely hitting the car of the minister @Yolanda_Diaz_.

All our support for Yolanda in the face of the insults, threats and attacks suffered today in Toledo by the ultra-right.

— We can (@PODEMOS) July 24, 2020

Diaz feels "total empathy" for Ardern.

He sees in his resignation "an acknowledgment of vulnerability", but also "a courageous message to society".

“I don't know of any prime minister who has resigned for that reason, and I think a man in those circumstances would never have received the feedback she did.

Surely there would be talk of responsibility or a conflict of power.

That shows that there is a long way to go in feminism in politics and that men are missing out on a lot,” she says.

She believes that there is not only a different treatment, but different styles.

“Feminist policies flee from the language of war.

We look for alliances instead of competing for everything and much more progress is made that way.

Curiously, this has happened to Ardern in a pandemic for directing with a different style.

We rebel against the idea that one cannot be both things at the same time:

For Díaz, the attacks are more frequent and harsher when the policies address issues related to equality: “It is evident that feminism generates a particularly virulent reaction on the extreme right.

Even very serious problems such as sexist violence are denied or the elimination of a specific ministry is demanded.

There is no single or infallible recipe to combat all this, but to tell about his hidden program [el de la extrema ríight] is to uncover his true face”.

Looking back, the vice president believes that she has "improved" but "much remains to be done."

“I would like to see more feminism in speeches and policies, more allies.

See a feminist woman as president and more women in positions of public representation”.

Inés Arrimadas, last December in the Congress of Deputies.Luis Sevillano

Inés Arrimadas (deputy and former president of Ciudadanos).

"They wished me a gang rape."

“I completely empathize with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, I put myself in her shoes,” says the 41-year-old former president of Ciudadanos.

And she adds: “There comes a time when you can't handle everything.

She has been a mother during her tenure and she will have felt guilty many times.

She understands her perfectly and, honestly, I can't imagine a man in that situation.

They are never asked what loss they are going to take when they are parents or how they manage to be parents and politicians.

I took two six-week maternity leave and some blamed me for not having been more present in Congress and others that it was a very short period of leave and that this sent a very bad message to society.

It is impossible to hit.

They will judge you always and for everything.

"I have been called a whore and a woman even wanted to be gang-raped in a Facebook message that had many


- the author of the message was sentenced to four months in prison."

Asked how she feels about these types of attacks, she replies that they give her, above all, "sorrow and anger" and that they have not had anything to do with her resignation from the presidency of Ciudadanos.

Arrimadas does not believe that women have their own style of doing politics and warns against speeches that she considers counterproductive.

“Of course you have to raise your voice and say that we do not receive the same treatment, but not all criticism of women is machismo.

Being called incompetent is not the same as being called a whore.

And the double standard bothers me a lot.

Talking about Irene Montero's husband is 'political violence', but her husband said that Ana Botella was there because she was Aznar's wife.

And that is dynamite for the advances of feminism.

Try to patrimonialize it, too.

The PSOE and Podemos tried to expel me from the 8-M demonstration.

When it falls into that, we back off, because those people who have to be convinced, suddenly, all they see is sectarianism.

Feminism does not have to be an ideology,

but a transversal principle”.

To combat machismo in politics, Arrimadas believes that the first thing to do is increase the presence of women: "Let us be seen, let female power be normalized, make conquests for consolidation, showing that you can be a mother and lead a project, for example”.

Soledad Murillo, in an act against gender violence, in Madrid, in 2018. Chema Moya (EFE)

Soledad Murillo (former Secretary of State for Equality).

"The parties have cainite structures."

“Where was the Labor Party when they attacked Ardern?

Her resignation is a failure of the party ”, affirms this sociologist and Secretary of State for Equality between 2018 and 2020.“ Personally, she has been very brave, she has saved herself.

Politically, the image given to women in politics is that they can't stand it.

But what must be questioned when expelling an innovative, empathetic and non-sectarian politician like Ardern is the cainite structure of political parties, which makes one live in a tank.

All politicians are highly exposed, but the weapons of destruction are different: men are not attacked for their personal lives or their physical appearance.

Women do, and that does much more damage: how many children do you have, how many extra kilos, why are you there...”.

“I would not have used the concept of family as the New Zealand prime minister used it,” adds Murillo, 66, “because it reinforces the idea that the ammunition used against her was well chosen.”

"You don't have to choose, you have to point out the political structure that forces you to do it."

When Murillo was working on gender violence law, she was accused of being part of a sect.

"I spent 6,000 euros to denounce those responsible and I found myself very alone," she recalls.

“The feminist agenda generates more suspicion and attacks.

It is easier to be in the Economy than in the Ministry of Equality, ”she underlines.

"They criticized my quotas and I told them: but let's see, if there have always been quotas here, but territorial ones, that is, an exchange of favors between men and barons."

“All the women who have gone through politics have experienced situations that we would have wanted to do without, but we have to understand that saying what needs to be improved is not disloyalty to the party.

The ideal would be to generate alliances between different formations and reflect together on all this, like ageism with women: experience does not save you.

Or that power does not support emancipation, the fact that you do not permanently recognize the debt contracted.

Yolanda Díaz is being harassed by whoever she named her.

She defends herself very well.

She has recovered a femininity that seemed banned in left-wing politics and she has earned respect because she works hard”.

The politics of the PP Andrea Levy.Carlos Rosillo

Andrea Levy (councilor of the PP in the Madrid City Council).

"I was trying to look older."

Levy downplays Ardern's resignation: "Political responsibilities are fleeting and she's going to be judged by how long she was in power, not by giving it up," she says.

However, she can't imagine a man making a speech like the New Zealander's.

“There is a different scrutiny towards women politicians and in general.

When I was appointed deputy secretary of the PP [in 2015, then I was 31 years old] I could not set foot on the street without commenting on what boyfriends I had, how I dressed, how much I went out... My personal life mattered much more than what I said.

during the


They took a photo of me one day when I was very tired and another made up on TV two days later to say that I had had surgery.

In my team they were all boys and none of them were supervised like me.

It came together that I was a woman, young... I tried to modulate my image to fill that lack of something that could not be: older.

Many times it hurt, but over time I learned to relativize“.

Levy does not believe that women have a different style when it comes to doing politics and stresses that sometimes they do not help each other.

"Sometimes we have less empathy between us."

PSOE deputy Laura Berja, in Congress, in May 2022. Miguel Osés (EFE)

Laura Berja (PSOE deputy).

"When they called me a witch in Congress I was shocked."

“The same thing happens to all of us and people are not aware of the seriousness of the problem because machismo has been in charge of burning mistrust in the testimonies of women,” says the 36-year-old Socialist deputy.

“I was very sad to see Ardern's speech, the loss of so much political capital.

That 'I'm tired', that 'I'm human' showed a very common exhaustion in women politicians, who do not resign for the same reasons as men.

The path to get there is hostile because machismo is deeply rooted in society and politics.

We have to constantly resign, do double so that we are valued at half, and the attacks are tremendous.

When the Vox deputy [Javier Sánchez García] called me a witch in the middle of Congress while I defended the right to abortion from the rostrum,

I couldn't believe it, I was shocked.

But there are examples every day.

They seek personal discredit to disqualify us politically.

They question how we got to the position, they claim sexual relations to justify a promotion, they make us feel like guests, like impostors.

What is valued in a politician, like ambition, for example, in women has negative connotations.

And yes, there are days, moments when you think about throwing in the towel because it's exhausting.

Then you realize that it is essential that women are there to change all this and for democracy to be truly representative”.

they make us feel like guests, like impostors.

What is valued in a politician, like ambition, for example, in women has negative connotations.

And yes, there are days, moments when you think about throwing in the towel because it's exhausting.

Then you realize that it is essential that women are there to change all this and for democracy to be truly representative”.

they make us feel like guests, like impostors.

What is valued in a politician, like ambition, for example, in women has negative connotations.

And yes, there are days, moments when you think about throwing in the towel because it's exhausting.

Then you realize that it is essential that women are there to change all this and for democracy to be truly representative”.


A Vox deputy causes an altercation in Congress after calling one of the PSOE a "witch"

For Berja, the attacks intensify when the political woman talks about certain issues.

“Defending equality issues is very expensive, it penalizes you a lot.

Sometimes it seems that they are waiting for you to shut up to talk about what is supposed to be relevant, what they bring to the table”.

She believes that the only way to combat this machismo is "with public policies and anti-harassment protocols, such as the one included in the sexual freedom law for social organizations and political parties."

Gloria Martín (IU-V councilor in Lorca, Murcia).

“I had to explain to my children that a man had called me a fat jerk

. ”

The macho attacks do not occur only in Congress or in Madrid.

They transcend parties and territories.

A year ago, after the assault on the plenary session of Lorca (Murcia) by a group of ranchers, a truck driver shared an audio on WhatsApp in which he said that Gloria Martín was "a fat ass badger".

"That is the one that can really explain how the pig fattening farms work because she must weigh around 200 kilos," he added.

Before she reached the mobile, the councilor decided to tell her children.

She then located the trucker and called him.

"I invited him for coffee, but he never showed up."

Martín, 47, admits that more than once he has thought about resigning.

“Surely the New Zealand Prime Minister did not lack energy, but support.

The saddest feeling I have had in politics as a woman is loneliness.

And when you don't feel supported, you wonder if it's worth taking your kids' time, getting involved in a battle where one day you take a small step and the next you go back two.

She also believes that the attacks are worse when talking about equality.

“Some call us crazy.

But even sometimes, with my own colleagues, I notice that gender is a debate that doesn't interest them that much.

The councilwoman, a political scientist by training, offers a solution: “Fill politics until the most reticent learn to work with us and respect us;

weave support networks among us and involve young people”.

Elena Candía (candidate for mayor of Lugo for the PP).

"I received timid signs of support, in private, from PSOE policies."

April 2021, press conference by the president of the Lugo council, José Tomé (PSOE).

He says: "Regarding Mrs. Candía, because of her clothing, with the leopard look that she wore yesterday, honestly, she gave the image of the American cowboy who entered the Capitol in the United States."

It was, she remembers, "very inelegant, for being politically correct."

"More than a macho behavior, for me the lack of respect and even education weighed heavily, because she read a speech with that text, which allows us to interpret that it was not the result of a spontaneous debate," she points out.

As a sign of protest at what happened, the PP deputies in the Galician Parliament attended the next plenary session dressed in leopard prints.

Asked if any socialist politician had expressed solidarity with her, Candia recalls:

The misogynistic and unacceptable comments of the socialist José Tomé, president of @depulugo, questioning the "leopard appearance" of @ElenaCandiaLu are a sample of intolerable machismo in a public representative.

He cannot continue in office for another minute # StopMachismoPSOE

– PP of Galicia (@ppdegalicia) April 10, 2021

For the 44-year-old Galician, the resignation of the New Zealand Prime Minister should “make us reflect on the pressure that politics entails and how it ends up affecting us physically and emotionally.

We are human beings with family and feelings even though it seems that they are forgotten”.

Candía believes that "probably" a man would not have received the same comments as Ardern in her resignation, although she affirms that it is necessary "to make an objective analysis of the realities, whether a man or a woman."

"I still think that behaviors belong to people, opportunities, problems... regardless of gender."

Asked if women who talk about equality or feminism receive more attacks, Candía replies: "We must all get involved so that they don't happen, condemn them harshly and bet on equal treatment regardless of gender,

race, opinion or social circumstance.

They are pillars of our rule of law that I apply and defend”.

Looking back, he believes that "much progress has been made" and that the way to combat this type of aggression is "with education and opportunities so that equality is real and effective."

Carmela Silva, in an act of the Provincial Council of Pontevedra in May 2022. DIPUTATION OF PONTEVEDRA / RAFA ESTEVEZ (Europa Press)

Carmela Silva (president of the Provincial Council of Pontevedra, of the PSOE).

"We have all thought about throwing in the towel at some point."

The 62-year-old socialist veteran says she has suffered attacks for being a woman since she stepped foot in politics and "even within the party."

She has taken to court the former councilor for Equality in the Moraña City Council, Jorge Caldas, from the PP, who called her a "bad bitch, whore and daughter of a bitch" - and resigned - and a mayor, Gonzalo Durán, also from the PP, who He said that he was "the chacha for everything of Abel Caballero [mayor of Vigo]."

“I reported it so that young women wouldn't have to go through this, but there should be a specific criminal offense for this type of insult,” she says.

In the first case, a judge dismissed the case alleging that "although they are profane expressions, they have no other purpose than to reveal the disagreement", but later another court sentenced him to a month's fine.

In a second,

“I would be lying if I said that I have not thought about throwing in the towel”, says Silva, “I think that all women who are dedicated to politics have thought about it at some point, but then I always decide that we cannot give up”.

“Ardern has suffered unprecedented harassment for years with those types of insults that only women hear.

We are always under suspicion and it is understandable that she is not willing to suffer all that and those endless hours, because women have a feeling of guilt and they don't”.

He believes that, although "you cannot generalize", in general, politicians are "more empathetic than politicians" and "work better as a team", and that the only way to combat machismo is "with a daily discourse, public policies and education”.

[The newspaper has tried, without success, to include the opinion of Irene Montero in the report.

The Minister of Equality has declined to do so because she is immersed in the negotiation of the reform of the

law of only yes is yes].

Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-02-05

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