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Why as a Christian I think the Rubiales case is sexism by the book

Evangelicals must help to change the sexist mentality, talk and preach about it, making it clear that the enemy is not the male, but sin.

FEATURES AUTOR 301/Asun_Quintana 05 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 2023 17:10 h
Silvia Intxaurrondo, presenter of the Spanish public broadcaster RTVE, comments the controversy around President of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales. / Image: Snapshot [link]RTVE[/link].

In the last days of August, the news of the kiss of Luis Rubiales, president of the RFEF (Royal Spanish Football Federation), to the player Jenni Hermoso were the centre of the media and of many conversations.

Rubiales, in an extraordinary assembly organised only 6 days later, not only did not resign but empowered himself and in a bullying and victimising way. He blamed the football player, and used his daughters to defend himself and give pity, accusing the whole society of what he called "false feminism" (something that exists, but this is not the case).

[destacate]Many people were sitting and listening to Rubiales, applauding his speech. Where are the men and women of integrity and courage?[/destacate]He has been expedited by FIFA (International Association Football Federation), but to be legally condemned, he will have to be denounced by the player herself. That is what the law says and she has not done this yet. Jenni Hermoso is between a rock and a hard place.

The worst thing is that many people were sitting and listening to Rubiales, applauding his speech. That is the sad and tragic reality: where are the men and women of integrity and courage?

Personally, I expressed my opinion on the social media just after the World Cup final, through our profiles as Seneca Falls Platform (find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).

There we gave 5 basic reasons why Rubiales kiss in the mouth of a player during the title celebrarion is a sexist gesture:

1. He kisses her because he feels like it, because he is euphoric, because it is part of his victory, the victory of what he seems to consider to be "his" girls.

2. He forces the player to let him kiss her and gives her no option to react (he grabbed her by the head without any possibility of movement).

3. The player didn't like it. Hermoso's first reaction in the locker room, recorded on an Instagram live video was: "Ehh, I didn't like it at all, but what am I going to do?" That is, I have to shut up and put up with it and see it as normal. It's the same attitude that women have after being abused: 'I have to put up with it, that's how it is and that's it'. Rubiales' kiss only shows that sexism is in his blood.

And not only the kiss, there was the other gesture, just as the football match finished, while standing in the VIP area of the stadium next to the Queen of Spain, Letizia. He touched his testicles. The gesture of the testicles is very clear. When a man reaches for his testicles to celebrate an achievement made by women, as Rubiales did in the box, he shows contempt for them and only seeks to show the ostentation of his power.

4. Rubiales is (was) Jenni Hermoso's boss, a superior. So, there is abuse of authority.

5. Let's think about the opposite situation, that a female president of the RFEF would have done the same with a male player, which is unlikely (and if she did it would still be harassment). This helps to understand the seriousness of what happened.

If we tolerate these gestures as normal, we are encouraging machismo, gestures like this only feed other much more serious ones. If we tolerate it, we are normalising harassment and violence against women.

Nobody can justify the events by saying that it was "a moment of euphoria". When I am euphoric and so is she, I can violate her space, because we are excited and because it comes "naturally" from within me. That's just not right.

The serious underlying problem is that these acts are normalised in our society. "It's just a peak". That is why the president of the RFEF, before the forced and artificial "apologies" he gave, said to a radio broadcaster that the act of kissing and the criticism he had recevied were all "bullshit, nonsense", and that those of us who denounce it are "dumb asses and fools".

[destacate]These abuses are not "micro" because they are less serious, but because they go unnoticed[/destacate]Those acts, of which there are hundreds in everyday life, are also named micromachismo: subtle gestures, attitudes, comments, phrases and prejudices that show up in everyday life, contributing to inequality, and placing women in an inferior position to men in social, labour, legal and family spheres.

Micromachismo is a term proposed by the psychologist Luis Bonino Méndez in 1990, and constitutes the basis and breeding ground for the other forms of gender violence, misogyny: psychological, emotional, physical, sexual and economic mistreatment.

They are not "micro" because they are less serious, but because they go unnoticed. They are at the base of what we call the iceberg of gender violence, or violence against women. In other words, gestures that are invisible but which are the breeding ground, the foundation or the root of gender violence or any other type of violence or aggression against women, prostitution, sexual slavery, human trafficking. This is the tip of the iceberg, what is visible.

There are many examples in everyday life. Some are conscious and intentional, others are unconscious, they are done automatically because they are in our blood. The reality of sexism appears since Genesis 3:16: "To the woman he said: 'I will greatly increase your suffering in your pregnancy; in pain you will bear children. Your desire will lead you to your husband, and he will rule over you'". And this consequence (not God's desire) came to pass, the man ruled over the woman. These attitudes are centuries old, have been internalised as "normal", accepted by society.

I give some examples: the lack of co-responsibility in the home and childcare, clichés such as "men don't cry", "she is a princess, he is a prince", jokes about women, criticism of women's dress or body shape, talking about the outfit of women politicians instead of their work, sexist language, sexist advertising, sexist songs, sexist textbooks, certain gender roles and stereotypes, etc.

I am getting to the key issue I want to talk about. I am often asked, both by detractors of thje term 'gender violence' and by people who are really interested in the subject, how come there are still so many murders due to gender violence, with so much money being invested in fighting it. Are the laws against gender violence not working?

Everything has its place. The current laws on gender violence are good, imperfect, but good. Even the much discussed 'yes is yes' law in Spain contains positive aspects (with the necessary reform that was applied later), because it is based on the woman's consent for any kind of sexual gesture or act.

The 2004 law against gender-based violence (LIVG in Spanish) has been modified and improved. The 2017 State Pact was a milestone, and a historic gesture, of unity of all parties to eradicate gender-based violence.

Over 200 measures were put on the table, although it is true that not all of them have been implemented. It should also be added that many women do not report abuses to the police, so little can be done to intervene, except for the family or neighbours, if they find out.

Laws regulate evil, protect from greater evils, limit evil, penalise. But they do not change people.

[destacate]The number of women killed by gender violence in Spain so far this year 2023 is 37, leaving 41 orphans [/destacate]Laws penalise when the damage has already been done, that is their job. But what we see is that in this area, prevention is key, that is, acting on that part of the iceberg that is hidden, internalised, such as micromachismos.

That is why our Seneca Falls Platform works above all on prevention, bringing to light and showing the micromachismos of everyday life in order to eradicate them.

Part of our courses and workshops deal with this subject, which is essential to achieve a change of vision towards women. We have to educate in the equality of men and women from an early age, because it is much more difficult to change the mentality of adults than that of children.

To educate is to guide, to lead a person in their growth (e-ducere, from the Latin). To educate with knowledge and wisdom, but above all with examples: in the family, in the churches, in society in general, how we treat women, in everyday life, in public and in private. That is what our children, our young people will look at.

The number of women killed by gender violence in Spain so far this year 2023 is 37, and 41 children are already orphans due to gender violence in 2023. 1,222 deaths since 2003, when these crimes began to be counted as machoist violence.

All areas of society must get involved in helping to eradicate gender violence. These are not figures, they are lives, and it is happening all around us. We evangelicals, our churches, the leadership, our theological seminaries, also have to get involved in it. Because the issue is also within our churches. And we must put all our resources to help to change the sexist mentality, with an equal education of boys and girls. To talk about these issues, to preach about it, making it clear that the enemy is not the male, but sin.

Jesus did it, he preached with his example in the way he treated women, respecting them, valuing them, being their teacher and their friend, sending them out.

No one like Him, male, courageous, he dared to defend an adulterous woman, and to denounce the men there. Gestures like this cost him his life. He referred to Genesis, and said, "At first it was not so, but because of the hardness of your hearts..."

Asun Quintana is an evangelical pastor in Madrid (Spain), and coordinator of the Woman Working Group of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance.




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