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Gender and Violence in Spanish Culture

From Vulnerability to Accountability

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Edited By María José Gámez Fuentes and Rebeca Maseda García

For the true exercise of citizenship to occur, gender violence must be eradicated, as it is not an interpersonal problem, but an attack on the very concept of democracy. Despite increasing social awareness and legal measures taken to fight gender violence, it is still prevalent worldwide. Even in a country such as Spain, praised in the UN Handbook for Legislation on Violence Against Women (2010) for its advanced approach on gender violence, the legal framework has proved insufficient and deeper sociocultural changes are needed. This book presents, in this respect, groundbreaking investigations in the realm of politics, activism, and cultural production that offer both a complex picture of the agents involved in its transformation and a nuanced panorama of initiatives that subvert the normative framework of recognition of victims of gender violence. As a result, the book chapters articulate a construction of the victim as a subject that reflects and acts upon his/her experience and vulnerability, and also adopt perspectives that frame accountability within the representational tradition, the community, and the state.

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Chapter Two: In the Wake of Ana Orantes: For an Ethical Representation of Violence Against Women (Juana Gallego Ayala)

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chapter two

In the Wake of Ana Orantes

For an Ethical Representation of Violence Against Women

Juana Gallego Ayala

On the occasion of a recent trip to the city of Palma de Mallorca, where I had been invited to deliver a seminar on gender and communication, I decided that I could not leave the city without visiting its cathedral. However, since it was closed to tourists, the only chance I had to see it was by attending an evening religious service. Even though I am not a believer, I had no doubt that Palma’s cathedral vaut bien una messe. During the homily, the priest mentioned the case of a young 19-year-old woman who had been murdered by her partner in a town on the island just days earlier, making her the 13th mortal victim of gender violence in 2016; it was only March. The priest described the murder as yet another instance of the scourge that society had to try to eradicate.

The fact that a priest would mention a deed of this nature during a religious service shows to what extent the perception of violence against women has changed in Spain. In fewer than 25 years, it has gone from being a nameless thing to being considered a problem that is often called a “social scourge.” Nor is it irrelevant that a priest was the one to make this comment during mass, if we bear in mind that the...

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