I am very fond of timelines. I find that one of the problems of the post-traditional model of education is that it has condemned memorizing as a useless nuisance. This leads to a great deal of imprecision regarding exact historical dates, which in its turn produces a hazy impression of historical periods. Without learning particular dates one may think that the whole 20th century is an undifferentiated mass of events with just a few major highlights. Thus, it is not rare in Spain for young persons to name incorrectly the years when the disgraceful Civil War took place (1936-9) and to suppose that Francoâs brutal regime ended much earlier than 1975.
The problem with timelines is that they are actually of little use for study. You may check a detail or two, take a general look âbut who can read a timeline in detail and absorb all that information? This is why I find that timelines only help us to memorise dates if you produce them yourself. Hence, I am always producing new ones in my own study time. It is not easy.
I am currently working on a timeline which, hereâs the contradiction, I might eventually publish in my website. I realised that I know more about British and American womenâs history than about Spanish and Catalan women. This is why I decided to start a local timeline and later on add to it the key dates in US and UK feminism. My timeline is currently 45 pages long, I can say I have already learned very much but I do not know yet where to stop.
In principle, I decided to include key general political events (my grasp of Spanish History is not that good…), and dates connected with womenâs advances (mainly legislation, education, labour). I decided not to include literature, only books connected with the âwoman question.â The problem came when I realized that, as IsaĂas Lafuente hints, domestic innovations âlike the mop, invented by Manuel JalĂłn and first commercialised in 1958â and others, like sanitary pads (no reliable date so far) may have changed womenâs lives much more deeply than certain pieces of legislation.
Then, I came across a website on the evolution of the womenâs liberation movement in Spain during the 1960s and 1970s, and it was so dense with dates that my using them would automatically require the same for all periods. Finally, guess what? The hardest periods to reconstruct are the most recent ones. I donât know the date when gay marriage was introduced in Spain. Um. Itâs 3 July 2005 (just checked).
One thing that is quite clear, reading Geraldine Scanlonâs impressive pioneering study La PolĂ©mica Feminista en la EspaĂ±a ContemporĂĄnea 1868-1974, published in 1976, and Pilar Folgueraâs slim but very information collective volume, Feminismo en EspaĂ±a: Dos Siglos de Historia (1988), is that Spain is also different when it comes to how our feminism compares with the rest of the Western world.
Both volumes make it very clear that there was no feminism movement as such until, properly speaking, the 1970s. We had formidable individual figures (ConcepciĂłn Arenal, Emilia Pardo BazĂĄn, Clara Campoamor…), many associations of different signs but no all-encompassing movement. When the chance came for that, after Francoâs death, the âTransiciĂłnâ took much of he necessary political energy away from the movement. At any rate, believe it or not, this is the best historical moment ever for women in Spain. Hopefully, the women living in the 22nd century will find ours still an obscure time.
If anyone cares, this is a rough division into main periods of womenâs history and feminism in Spain:
*1724-1868: Enlightenment ideas enter Spain (with the French Bourbon dynasty). Men who believe in them, and a few women, start a very timid reform of public education for women (primary and professional levels, schools for teachers).
*1868-1939 Individual women feminists fight for the rights of women (access to secondary and higher education, and the professions); also, with much division, the vote. Many feminist associations are formed in the 1920s, none major. Brief period of fast advances under the Republic (vote and divorce 1931) and the Civil War.
*1939-1965 Francoâs military regime imposes traditional ideals of womanhood. Women are split into meekly following these ideals, or struggling to end the dictatorship (clandestine resistance organised by left-wing political parties and womenâs illegal associations)
*1965-1982 Full emergence of the feminist liberation movement, particularly after 1975. Women are split mainly on class lines between the need to consolidate left-wing policies and the need to work specifically for womenâs gains.
*1983-2014âŠ Institutionalised feminism (after PSOE wins 1982 election). Legislation becomes the main tool for equality, together with education, supported by widespread social acceptance of the main feminist tenets (feminist activism remains fragmented in a myriad organizations).
UmâŠ 2014-2044âŠ Full equality of rights and opportunities is reached for women of all classes, mysogyny is considered a relic as intolerable as cannibalism. Gender divisions become irrelevant as all, men and women, face life from the same position.
Now back to the timeline…
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