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The Role of Women in Spain

The field of women's studies has tried to restore the place of women in history by looking at a wide range of women's roles and achievements in different historical periods. For example, Sanchez and Saens' (1996) compilation about Spanish women during the golden age explored the lives not only of queens but of women artisans and female religious figures. What is clear from these explorations is that women's lives were complex and their roles ambiguous, in some instances. Although the dominant culture of that age subordinated women, women's own efforts often allowed them to create some space for achievement and fulfillment.

There is some evidence, however, that women's position declined after this golden age. Instead of greater liberalization, there was a backlash after the Protestant Reformation in which the Catholic Church sought to impose its rule even more severely over the population. This meant control of both men's and women's sexuality, and a strict division of labor along sex roles. These attitudes led to stringent control of women's lives, and great isolation of women within families. During the 19th century, the vast majority of Spanish women were illiterate, and most of the educated were educated in convents. The focus was on creating obedient wives and mothers who fit into arranged marriages, and were willing to accept their husband's mistresses and abuse (Traditional roles, 1997). Although women were given municipal suffrage in 1924, it was essentially meaningless under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. This is the general context for women before the Republican accession to power. The intention in this essay is to explore the role of women in the 20th century by looking at two periods: the time of Franco and the contemporary period of the 1990s.

In order to understand what Franco meant to women, one must learn a little about what directly preceded his regime. During the Spanish Civil War, women f...

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The Role of Women in Spain. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:19, April 19, 2019, from