señoritas señoritas

girls vs. boys
We assembled a six-strong team of girls vs. boys writers this month and charged them with the prickly task of describing Spanish girls in little more than 400 words. Here’s what they said:

girls vs. boys

I

Luc Ciotkowski

’ll begin with the purely physical and the first thing I have to mention is the north/ south divide. I noticed it years ago when I was studying (interpreting and translating, not Spanish women) in Granada. Madrid being the capital and also in the centre of the country makes it more difficult to spot here, but I think there is a clear tendency for bigger breasts and smaller bums in the north and smaller breasts and bigger bums in the south. Couple that with the reputation of northern Spanish girls to be more sexually liberated than their southern counterparts (which may just be right in the most general sweep), and you have got the basis of a headlining article worthy of the free daily newspapers Qué!, 20 Minutos or ADN. Just add some manipulated stats and they’d be off.

Y

Helen Macrae

our first impressions tend to be the most vivid and stay with you the longest, often colouring any subsequent experiences you have. For this reason, I will always and forever think that Spanish girls are brilliant, as I was lucky enough to live with four of the loveliest chicas you could hope to meet during my first sojourn in Spain. When I tumbled off the bus with my gargantuan suitcase in Zaragoza back in September 2003, I was a bit apprehensive to say the least. A hapless Erasmus student, I knew no one and despite several years of study and a couple of qualifications under my belt, my Spanish was decidedly ropey. These girls were my guardian angels: they took me in under their collective wing and are probably the reason I’m living in Spain now.

ou shouldn’t worry about her,” this Dutch guy tells me at a party. Despite just meeting me, he rolled me a cigarette and broke down life. “What you want is a German girl, or a Swede. They [take greater care in removing body hair from] their [lady parts].”

“Y

Ryan Craggs

I’m surprised dying their hair blond is still quite popular. Even if lots of girls were brought up on Barbie or Nancy dolls, and classist attitudes that perceive lighter, straighter hair as more classy than curlier, darker ‘common’ or, God forbid, ‘gypsy’ hair still seep into some Spanish families. I’ve always thought that so many of the Spanish girls who go rubia de bote end up looking a bit dirty (in the unwholesomely sexy sense of the word). I don’t know if it’s to do with skin tone, eyes, bone structure or what, but there’s something not right about it. They’re far more independent than their male opposite numbers, but the molly-coddling they tend to get from their mothers makes them as domestically useless as the boys. I can imagine a Spanish couple, just moved into their new house (after marrying, first time properly living outside the parental home) asking each other how to use the iron/switch the washing machine on. Sadly, my intuition tells me it’s more likely to be her than him who finally assumes the mantle in this arena. At work, they’re easily as hard or harder-working than the guys, but come up against glass ceilings to their professional development all over the place. They’re nothing like their mothers, and yet few can survive an entire day without reporting back to the mothership, no matter where she may be or how little there is to report. There always is something to report, however, because talking is a Spanish girl’s favourite thing. Never mind Venus and Mars: Spanish girls are from planet talk, and Spanish guys shout over the top of them. No wonder over 80% of Spaniards have irreparable ear damage by the age of 30. (Although, I might have read that in Qué!)

Gradually they familiarised me with the nuances of Spanish life. They chided me for eating sandwiches and crisps for lunch, and taught me that mealtimes were a social affair, to be enjoyed at leisure and not simply scoffed down in the shortest time possible. They helped me overcome my fear of hanging my washing out on the balcony and dropping my underwear onto the patios below. They took me out to bars so smoky my eyes would water and showed me how to party until 8am Spanishstyle. They tried (and failed) to teach me how to make tortilla española. They even welcomed me into their pueblito at weekends so I could get a glimpse of España profunda. Of course, my Spanish improved dramatically, too. We never spoke in English, and the girls provided sensitive error correction as I got my past tenses mixed up, confused ser and estar, and muddled my way through the subjunctive. I learnt more in those 12 months than in 8 years of study back in the UK. Of the inevitable stereotypes, I think some do have a grain of truth in them. Spanish girls like to talk. A lot. We would have many a heated debate over dinner, and on the occasions we had dinner parties with so many guests we'd run out of plates and chairs, the noise would be deafening. They also always look immaculate, even (annoyingly) for 9am lectures whereas I'd turn up looking like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards. And most of them do smoke far too much. But more importantly, they are warm, open and make fantastic friends who will show you an amazing time...even if things happen several hours after you'd planned. So Noelia, Belén, Imma, Bea and Spanish girls everywhere – here's to you!

Forgive my puritanical editing there, but you get the picture. I was doing what any heterosexual American male would do; I was pining after this Spanish girl I’d met on a trip I took to Portugal. She was dark and alluring; I was twenty-one. Something had to give. Unfortunately, Laura’s French boyfriend was the only one giving anyone anything, or so I found out that night. Ugh. Not to mention, I was leaving the continent for whoknows-how-long two weeks later. End of story. Sort of. Coming back to Spain a year and a half later, I had this idealized image of Spanish girls. Thin, beautiful dark, exotic. Penelope Cruz, Elena Anaya. Then I started dating them. “I can’t stand my roommates,” Ana told me in bed. She smiled to their faces. “I can’t stand my classmates,” she told me on our way to meet them for drinks. After a while, I couldn’t stand her not standing anybody. We didn’t even fight. We just stopped calling. Spanish women aren’t mysterious figs; they’re nuts. I’m not even just talking about the ones I’ve dated. Whether it’s the girl sticking her tongue in her boyfriend’s ear, three inches from my face on a crowded metro, or the hippy in Retiro who wouldn’t put down her Devil-sticks to wash her clothes, none of them make sense. Worst of all, I have no idea what age to catch them at. Here’s how to tell how old a Spanish girl is; if she’s wearing loads of makeup and yelling, she’s 18-50. If she’s dressed to the nines, she’s 18-50. If her mood flips on a dime, she’s 18-50. If she looks like Snow White would call her “Ugly”… she’s hit 50. I swear, Spanish women must sell their souls for being attractive youths, because when they hit the wrong side of 50, they look like something out of the Lord of the Rings. I guess I could still see myself settling down with a Spanish girl; they do seem to treat their men well enough. The only problem is, I couldn’t ever see one settling down… period. Seriously, do they ever stop yelling?

his morning, while half-jogging to the nearest metro stop and praying that my students were also running later than usual, I nearly ran over a Spanish woman walking her dog. When I turned around to utter a breathless, perdón, I wasn’t surprised to see that not only did she look like she just stepped out of a Massimo Dutti store window, but she was wearing lipstick and extremely high heels. It was 8:00 in the morning. Did I mention she was walking her dog? I consider it a feat for me to even be awake and out of my house at 8 am. The fact that I am dressed and don’t have a raging headache is a bonus. And I go to work wearing neither lipstick, nor high heels. Meanwhile, Spanish women are all so dapper that I have lived here for seven months, have been to several salsa classes that are meant for exercise, regularly go running in the park, and have never once seen a Spanish woman in a T-shirt. I’m beginning to suspect that there is a governmental ban on the things.  Other than their seemingly innate ability to walk, or run, for miles on 16th century cobblestones in 6-inch heels, I’ve also never seen so many dedicated mothers, who give so much attention and affection to their children. This might be because Spanish people typically wait longer to start a family than Americans do, or maybe I just haven’t paid similar attention to American mothers, but it seems to me that every Spanish child is lucky just for the fact that someone will still be eager to do their laundry when they’re 35 years old. Another characteristic that I admire Spanish women for is the fact that they don’t take their husbands’ last names. I quite like my last name, and don’t really want to screen my potential suitors for equally strong surnames (“Nice to meet you, Matt...Focker? Ohhh, no.”) Now, whenever posed with arguments for conformity, I can cite the women from Spain, and act very well-travelled as I do it. Although, like all of us, Spanish women have their flaws - can you ever really tell whether they are outraged or just having a normal conversation? – overall, I have found them to be caring, loquacious, generous, and inevitably well-dressed people. Some may argue that the previous sentence could also be used to describe Spanish men, but I would be quick to point out that the women do it all in high heels.

T

Hayleigh Stewart

he best way to paint an accurate picture of women in this country is found in a spectacle that can be observed every day on your way to the metro. Stopped at a crosswalk, checking your watch and grimacing with disgust at the garbles of garbage which somehow mysteriously manage to sneak their way onto your iPod, let’s say you notice a full-lipped, olive-skinned, brown-eyed twenty something business professional in a tight fitting skirt, four inch heels and bowl-cut bangs, walking at an alarmingly brisk rate. Suddenly, as that green walking man sign cheerfully chirps to life, she dives, cell phone to ear, into a skillfully swift sprint, and like a receiver beating the secondary on a Hail Mary, overtakes the crowd of slow-walking smokers and breaks through triumphantly, first at the finish to the other side of the street. Her phone still held daintily upright, eyes are focused, forward; she doesn’t crack a smile, show the faintest glow of perspiration, or have even a misplaced hair from her surprisingly athletic crosswalk jogging. Then, shifting her phone from one ear to the next, she ignores the “¡Guapísima!” cat calls from the homeless newspaper salesman, exercises a perfectly executed, no look purse dig, pulls out a Lucky Strike red, lights it without breaking stride, swims smoothly as a salmon through the upstream crowd, indifferently knocks a few people off the sidewalk and onto the street, gracefully dodges the freckles of doggie land mines dotting the sidewalk with nimblefooted ease, and keeps on her way to meet up with her short, balding, forty year old banker boyfriend whom she will make out with aggressively (because they both still live in their parents’ flats where they aren’t allowed to make out) at the café where they’ll soon be sipping senselessly small cervezas. You shake your head now as she disappears into the waves of pedestrians, wondering her name, what she does, where she lives, and how in the hell it’s possible for one human being to talk at such an incredible speed. Just like that – after a fleeting moment of first-sight love, she’s gone; out of your life forever. Your heart slumps. “¡Hasta la vista!”, you imagine yourself calling, silently. “Until next time!” or until the next one comes running by, at least.

T

Matt Johnson

Advanced Section

e preguntaba un amigo australiano de visita en Madrid si todas las chicas que desfilaban por delante de la terraza donde nos estábamos tomando unas cañas se habían vestido para ir de boda. Para Duncan, el vestuario, el maquillaje y la altura del tacón de las chicas que pasaban eran propios de una ocasión especial. El comentario de mi amigo me hizo sonreír pero también me llevó a pensar en algo que, con el paso de los años se me ha ido confirmando: a las españolas nos encanta prepararnos. Prestamos especial atención a nuestro aspecto físico pero no solo cuando vamos a salir de copas, como es el caso en otros países. ¿Coquetas? Creo que sí lo somos. ¿Guapas? ¿feas? ¿gordas? ¿delgadas? Depende. Muchos extranjeros nos consideran guapas, sin tener por qué serlo necesariamente. Simplemente, tenemos algo que no tienen las mujeres de su país. Recuerdo con mucho cariño un texto de un manual que he utilizado durante años en mis clases de español para extranjeros. En él se hacía una descripción muy general sobre los españoles. La frase mágica era “y tienen las mujeres más guapas de Europa”. En ese momento todos los chicos de la clase sonreían para sus adentros orgullosos de poder decir que se habían ligado a una española mientras que las chicas solían poner cara de no estar de acuerdo con esta afirmación. Viéndolo de una forma objetiva, me atrevo a decir que muchas españolas “se hacen guapas” por esa atención especial que prestan a su aspecto físico, que ya notó mi amigo Duncan al segundo día de estar en Madrid. Dejando de lado cuestiones físicas que saltan a la vista de todos, quisiera romper uno de los tópicos que más he escuchado a lo largo de los años sobre nosotras: españolas, mujeres calientes. A pesar de lo que se diga de nosotras en el extranjero, todavía hay muchas (para mí, demasiadas) mujeres españolas que viven su sexualidad como si fuera un tabú, influidas por la educación recibida por sus madres. Por otra parte y desde mi mentalidad abierta ¿por qué se relaciona caliente con fácil? En más de una ocasión he tenido que pararle los pies a alguno que ha pensado que por ser española me bajaría la falda de forma inmediata. Es difícil describir a todo un sector femenino cuando se forma parte de él, por ello os dejo que juzguéis por vosotros mismos: divertidas, aburridas, celosas, fumadoras, compradoras compulsivas, maternales, quejicas. Todo eso es lo que encontrareis ahí fuera y mucho más. ¡Mucha suerte!

M

Susana López

24

may 09

www.europeanvibe.com

www.europeanvibe.com

may 09

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