Spanish Equality Politics
Spain's progression from a fascist dictatorship to a democratic government, if nothing else, established formal civil rights through the proclamations contained in the 1978 Constitution. According to the Constitution, all citizens are equal under the law and discrimination on the basis of gender, race, or religion is prohibited. Article 14 is a declaration of formal equality and recognizes the principle of non-discrimination. Article 9.2 establishes material equality. Public powers are directed to promote conditions of equality and remove obstacles to it by establishing further legislation. Article 9.2 has allowed the government to develop the Equality Plans and revise the Penal code to prohibit violence against women, sexual harassment, and other forms of gender discrimination. Yet, like all such countries with similarly stated commitments, Spain's formal declaration of constitutional equality has not manifest in equality. Significant differences persist in the living conditions between Spanish men and women, despite the various efforts that have been made to eliminate them. Such efforts primarily resulted from the demands of women's organizations and the autonomous feminist movement. Governmental "equality bodies" and "equality politics" have been created to satisfy political pressures. However, the absence of a strong federal governmental agency and cooperation with women's organizations has restricted the effectiveness of existing provisions for Spanish women. The purpose of this project is to analyze the discrepancies that persist between rhetorical commitments and the reality of women's lives in Spain. First, I will render explicit the persistent discrepancies of empirical evidence underscoring the inadequacies of formal proclamations. Arguments of Critical Race Theory pertaining to racism suggest the limitations of formal declarations of equality, an insight that also extends to women. Derrick Bell argues that the absence of visible signs of racial discrimination creates an atmosphere of racial neutrality ultimately concealing discrimination and practices, which reduce the ineffectiveness of traditional civil rights laws (1992, 6). Similarly, the creation of gender equality legislation eliminates the most obvious forms of sex discrimination, while sexism persists under the guise of gender neutrality and the belief that sexism is no longer serious. Thus, deeper socio-economic transformations are required to achieve greater social equality. My SIP also examines the impact of the fragmented women's movement in prompting state intervention into equality relations as a means of securing greater legitimacy for the state. I will evaluate the state's incentives for intervening in women's issues and how the state has benefited from such intervention. Analyzing women's organizations, political parties, and international influences provides evidence for the state's motivations in developing rhetorical devices of gender equality. An examination of the creation and structure of"state feminism" further elucidates this issue. Perhaps, formal gender equality is a good political calculation that provides Spain with state legitimacy and international standing. Finally, examining the IM and the Equality Plans illustrates how the bureaucratization of feminism has disadvantages and advantages for the realization of feminist goals.