Friday, September 4, 2009

Ella Es el Matador

--------Mari Paz Vega
The other night I happened to catch a P.O.V. documentary on
PBS, call "Ella Es el Matador." It was about female bullfighters, which I didn't even know existed! Apparently there's a long and spotty history of women and bullfighting. Going back to the 1930's and on there were female bullfighters, and some of them were well known.

It's surprising to me that such
masochistic cultures as Latin America, Mexico, and Spain would ever allow women to fight, but a small number of women have fought consistently throughout the decades. In Spain, during Franco's reign, women were banned. Even today Spain is more sexist towards women. Some of the women in the documentary have to pursue their careers in Latin America, though Spain is perceived as the ultimate place to fight and become famous.

The documentary follows several women during the pursuit of their careers. All of the women must work extra hard and be extra lucky to become '
el matador,' compared to males. There is a long process of being an apprentice matador before graduating to the title of el matador. The film points out that there is no true title for a female matador, which should be 'la matadora.' Even though females can fight, there is an invisible wall of sexism and prejudice that prevents most women from ever becoming established bullfighters. Only one woman in the film, Mari Paz Vega, 'makes' it.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Eva Florencia
The film acknowledges cruelty to animals, but does not make the issue a focus. Bullfighting exists, and is a sport Spaniards love which is difficult for many others to understand. I cannot explain her love, but there is no doubt the film captures one women Eva Florencia's ardent passion for bullfighting and the bull. She paints pictures of bulls, and sees the bull as a deeply symbolic figure. It's also clear in the film that there are deep religious overtones to bullfighting, and there are numerous ritualistic habits associated with the fight.

In my opinion
Spaniards love bullfighting because 'el matador' is a Christ-like figure facing death over and over. Watching this film does make me want to read Hemingway's "Death in the Afternoon."

Conchita Cintron (1922-2009)

Patricia McCormick (one of the few American
female bullfighters)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


for the nice post.