Feminism takes to the streets again despite the political anger

Women have returned to fill the streets on March 8. From the big capitals to smaller municipalities in Spain, feminist demands —such as the end of sexist violence, the wage gap and glass ceilings— have resounded once again with force. Thousands and thousands of people have supported the calls. But, as happened last year and on the last International Day against Gender Violence, the slogans have not come from a united voice. Because the feminist movement, in some of the main cities of the country, including the capital, has been divided and has not been able to repeat those already historic photos of the massive and joint protests of 2018 and 2019, which marked the way to advance faster in feminist politics in Spain. To the trans lawwhich already caused the schism in 2022, is joined on this occasion by the political anger over the modification of the law of only yes is yes after the reductions in sentences and releases of more than 700 convicted of sexual crimes.

Despite the climate of political tension, the protests have once again become numerous and have brought together thousands of voices. 27,000 people in Madrid; 40,000 in Barcelona; 20,000 in Bilbao; 16,000 in Valencia… These data are provided by the various police forces and government offices; the convening organizations have multiplied the attendance figures by quite a bit.

“Feminism is changing everything, it is advancing and that is why we want to celebrate the victories, our victories and also our achievements,” explained Ana Hernando, spokesperson for the 8M Commission, organizer of the majority protest held in Madrid. In it they have coincided, despite the clashes of recent weeks, several ministers of the Government of the PSOE and United We Can. María Jesús Montero, Socialist Minister of Finance, has marched together with other party colleagues, such as Vice President Nadia Calviño and Minister of Justice, Pilar Llop. “All the women who defend equality are going together in this demonstration. Today is a beautiful day to celebrate that we have achieved many things hand in hand and that we have to achieve many more together”, María Jesús Montero pointed out. Of course, the ministers and senior officials of PSOE and Unidas Podemos have gone separately, about 100 meters away and each with their own slogans, as in previous years.

8-M demonstration in Barcelona. ALBERT GARCIA

The celebration of 8-M was preceded on Tuesday by a session of the Congress of Deputies in which the partners of the Government voted against each other in the reform of the law of only yes is yes. And the soufflé had not gone down this Wednesday. In the corridors of the Chamber, the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, declared in the morning: “What is at risk at this moment is not the coalition government, it is the rights of women. It is very bad news for the women of this country that the PSOE has joined hands with the PP to start the path that can lead us to return to the Penal Code of violence or intimidation, to the Penal Code of La Manada”. A few hours later, at the main event organized by her ministry, Montero had to face a small group of feminists opposed to the trans law who had attended the event at the Teatro Pavón. Contrary to what happened in previous years, the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, did not attend this 8-M event organized by the Ministry of Equality.


One of the most obvious images of the division has been lived in Madrid, where two demonstrations with different routes have been held, although both have started from Atocha. The first to come out was that of the Feminist Movement of Madrid, abolitionists and with a marked position contrary to the trans law and in which the resignation of Montero has been requested. The organizers of this march have also charged against the “botch” of the law of only Yes is yes. Carmen, 73, explained that it is the first year that she has decided not to attend the official demonstration, which left half an hour later from the same point. She does not agree with what has happened with the law of only yes is yes. But he also lamented that this division is undermining the feminist movement. And he does not share that the resignation of Minister Montero has been requested. “This is not the place for it.” 35,000 people have attended this protest, according to the organizers; 10,000, according to the Government Delegation.

The second call in Madrid was the largest: the Delegation estimated attendance at 17,000 people, while the organizers estimated 700,000. Ana Hernando, from the organization, recalled: “This demonstration is a meeting space for all feminisms, in which we all fit, we fit all without exclusion, because we are feminists and we don’t leave anyone behind”. “We are the necessary cry. Feminism is changing everything”, was the slogan of this protest. In the march, to the rhythm of batucadas and festive shouts, the feminist collectives went hand in hand with others for the climate or against evictions. Cries such as “Patriarchy and capital” have been heard; “Feminism will be anti-racist or it will not be”; or “I want to be free, I don’t want to be brave.” At the march, there were many demands in favor of the LGTBI movement and the inclusion of the trans movement within the feminist movement.

Some of the demonstrations were unrelated to the split. Under red umbrellas, a group against the abolition of prostitution has also been represented in this march. “With the abolition we are more unprotected and our work is criminalized. But, unfortunately, the majority of the feminist movement is in this line, ”said one of the protesters who, like many colleagues, had her face covered with it.

Trans-exclusionary demonstration of 8-M, in Madrid.
Trans-exclusionary demonstration of 8-M, in Madrid. alvaro garcia

In Valencia, it has also been a day of schism, as demonstrated by the cries of the two calls. In the early morning, led by the Feminist Assembly, the slogans defended that “sex work is also work” and that “transphobia is not feminism.” In the other march organized by the Coordinator, the resignation of Minister Montero was called for right behind the banner and the clients of prostitution were described as “rapists”. They have not been unanimous or general cries, but they have been representative. Both demonstrations have brought together tens of thousands of people, the second, the institutional one, being more numerous, in which the unions and political parties are integrated. According to the Government Delegation, the Coordinator’s demonstration has brought together more than 15,000 people, although the organization has raised that figure to 50,000. Some 5,000 people have attended the other march, according to the organizers: the Delegation has reduced it to 1,000.


However, in other cities, such as Barcelona or the Basque capitals, an effort has been made for unity and there has only been one call. The Minister of Equality and Feminism of the Generalitat, Tània Verge, has claimed since the protest in the Catalan capital: “It is urgent to overthrow the patriarchy.” Thousands of people have attended this march —60,000, according to the organizing platforms, and 40,000, according to the Urban Police. It has been the largest feminist protest in all of Catalonia. It has been preceded by a banner with the motto: “Feminist strike against the cishetero-patriarchal, racist and classist system.” And, as in many other places, the creativity of the messages has been the general trend. A girl held a sign with the witty message: “I don’t want to be a princess, I want to be a mayor.” She had also written such as: “We are not all here, the murdered are missing” or “If my dog ​​understands No you also can”.

Ana Tostado, one of the attendees, is 50 years old and has been going down from Sant Cugat (Barcelona) to the Catalan capital every March 8 for several years: “We have won many things, but now feminism is totally divided and that hurts us. Luckily, in Barcelona the demonstration is unitary”.

In the Basque Country, thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand decent treatment for women who are dedicated to caring for people and to protest the “oppressive situation” they suffer. In Bilbao, the Municipal Police has estimated some 20,000 attendees. The defense of the rights of caregivers has been the great slogan chosen for this 8-M. One of these workers is Deisy Santana, a 28-year-old Nicaraguan who has lived in the capital of San Sebastian for two years. She says that she charges 950 euros a month for caring for a retiree and cleaning his home: “I don’t have a contract, I work eight hours and I only have parties on Sundays. I hope that these mobilizations serve to value our work. We are many people who come from abroad who live in precarious conditions”.

The demonstrations have taken place behind a banner, the same one in the three Basque capitals, with the motto in Basque: “Revolutionize care to change everything”. No cries for resignation have been heard, but rather in favor of a public care system that regularizes the situation of many female caregivers. No incidents have been reported either. Some protesters —neither the conveners nor the San Sebastian Municipal Guard have offered data on attendees— have displayed posters that censor violence against women: “With clothes, without clothes, don’t touch my body” or “Feminism saves lives, machismo kills every day”. Elena Martínez, a 45-year-old cleaner, has attended the meeting to demand “respect, respect and respect”. “We are not asking for anything impossible. We want to live without looking back, without complexes”.

Demonstration in Seville of 8-M.
Demonstration in Seville of 8-M. Alejandro Ruesga

The Chapina bridge in Seville has trembled this Wednesday more than ever while all the protesters danced to the music of Rigoberta Bandini at the head of one of the two demonstrations called in the Andalusian capital, that of the Feminist Assembly. The other was organized by the Feminist Movement. “Which woman in your close life do they have to murder for you to care about gender violence?” Read a striking banner at the end of the first of the marches, which was attended by more than 2,000 people, according to police sources. . Mari Loli Mellado, 70, clarified: “I have come to many demonstrations and before the deaths were not counted and now they are. We have come for ourselves and for the women of so many countries who are worse off with so much repression,” she recounted, accompanied by two friends.

student protests

In the morning, the students were the ones who took to the streets of many cities in the country. “I go home with wide clothes so they don’t tell me anything,” explained Ana Sánchez García, a student at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. It is the first time that she has manifested herself in 8-M: “I can claim myself as a woman on a day-to-day basis, but today I have a special opportunity to raise my voice.” Between shouts of “alone, drunk, I want to get home” Sánchez complained about the insecurity in the street that women suffer. “When I come home it is terrible. I live on the outskirts of the city and when I go out I wear wide clothes on purpose so that they don’t do or say anything to me”.

But the student demonstrations were not alien to the climate of confrontation within feminism either. “They want to convince us that the law (of only yes is yes) is poorly done”, when the real problem is “fascist judges” and “patriarchal justice”, exclaimed from the loudspeakers one of the organizers of the feminist student demonstration led by the Student Union. That march ended in front of the Ministry of Justice and with the reading of a manifesto in which she charged against the judiciary for “promoting an offensive, not only against the law of only yes is yes, but against the entire feminist movement.” “We are furious that in 2023 we have to continue fighting this patriarchal bullshit.”

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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