Feminist outrage has jumped from social networks to the streets. Hundreds of people have gathered this Monday in Madrid to support the women’s soccer team and demand a sport and a life without any type of sexist violence. They have done so after the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, planted a non-consensual kiss on the player Jenni Hermoso on August 20. Just after becoming world champion. Before raising the glass, in front of thousands of people.
At 7:40 p.m., twenty minutes before the official time of the call, the feminist slogans were already beginning to reverberate in Madrid’s Plaza de Callao: “It’s not a peak, it’s an aggression”, “Jenni, sister, here is your herd” , “Macho who kisses, macho who applauds.” They have been shouted by young people, older couples, parents with children. Many, dressed in the red shirt of the national team in support of the players and, especially, Hermoso. Some 800 people, according to the Government Delegation, which the Madrid 8M Commission, the organizing organization, raises to 5,000. All of them have strongly condemned the behavior of the president of the federation.
In the middle of the thick of it, three seventy-year-old friends. Mari Luz Miranda, Aurelia Medina and Paloma Fernández complain that the “peak”—as Rubiales called the unwanted kiss—is not an isolated thing, but “every day.” “Women suffer little things that seem small or minor, but then become big. And always for being women,” says Miranda. “But we are motivated. Since #MeToo, this is unstoppable. The inertia has been broken and there are many things that no longer happen. They no longer consent,” says Medina.
It is precisely that weariness that has led the protests this past week. #SeAcabó was first written on social networks —where it already exceeds 500,000 mentions—, and now on the cardboard banners displayed by the protesters. “All of us, to a greater or lesser extent, have suffered an uncomfortable situation or an attack. And we have not denounced it because they are behaviors that society has made us normalize. But we cannot allow this to happen anymore”, explain Cecilia and Teresa, two friends who have attended the rally together. For the organizers of the 8M Commission in Madrid, “the sexual assault on Jenni Hermoso in the workplace and the reaction of the aggressor is the perfect example of what women suffer at work, at university, in our leisure time or in the media of communication, and how the macho reaction works: downplaying or lying, putting pressure on the victim and her family, blaming her and then victimizing herself and seeking the applause of allies or the complicit silence of others”.
That “other” has also been heard in the clamor of concentration. The protesters have also demanded the resignation of the coach of the women’s team, Jorge Vilda, and that of the circle of colleagues who rose to applaud Rubiales during his speech last Friday at the Federation assembly. She up to five times he repeated the words “I will not resign” the president of the federation, after assuring that he was experiencing “a hunt” by “false feminism.” In the Plaza de Callao, Cecilia and Teresa roll their eyes when they remember the scene. They explain that they felt “anger, impotence, disgust and impunity”: “Above all impunity”, they point out. “Nothing justifies the kiss. Not even if Jenni had picked him up. There is a power relationship. He is the boss, and a boss can never ask a worker for a pick”, they have criticized.
Impunity, however, has not lasted long in the streets. Neither in institutions and administrations. The FIFA Disciplinary Committee suspended Rubiales as president of the federation on a provisional basis last Saturday. The Government has also taken measures and the Prosecutor’s Office has opened proceedings against Rubiales for a possible crime of sexual assault. Several members of the Executive have been present at the concentration on Monday. “Rubiales’ attitude is one of recalcitrant machismo and inappropriate for a democratic society. What we saw last Friday (at the RFEF assembly) is an example of a good macho manual”, the acting second vice president and leader of Sumar, Yolanda Díaz, told the media during the rally. “The bodies that represent football must be renewed. We will never again allow what we have seen these days ”, she has insisted.
The response to that speech has been, even with everything, fast and forceful. “Fortunately, there is greater social awareness. Greater respect, above all. The law of only yes is yes has improved the understanding of this concept of equality”, the acting Minister of Education, Pilar Alegría, told EL PAÍS. “I think that these gestures, like today’s rally, together with all the different statements and demonstrations that we have heard and that we have experienced this week, clearly indicate to us that this country has made progress in terms of equality, in that fight to end the rights difference. And it is a path that we cannot and must not abandon”, affirmed the minister, among a crowd of protesters.
Miranda, Medina and Fernández also point to the law of only yes is yes, as an undeniable assistant to that greater feminist consciousness that has spread throughout the country. The three friends stress that this “kiss” has ceased to be a simple “kiss” and has been placed as an aggression in the minds of many people thanks to the rule that the Government approved in August 2022 and that placed consent in center. “It is necessary to highlight, in all this movement, the work of the Minister of Equality and her ministry. This law has greatly improved the feminist consciousness of this country”, Fernández has opined. Irene Montero, the acting Minister of Equality, has also been at the rally. “We are here so that Jenni knows that she is not alone and so that all women know what they have to do in case of any sexual violence. We are conceiving a country free of sexist violence ”, she has assured the media in front of women, children and men. “That is an important thing too, the participation of men,” Medina pointed out.
Around 8:45 p.m., part of the demonstration has marched towards Puerta del Sol. The other half has remained in the Plaza de Callao. The slogans have been repeated until after nine at night. “You have to scream. From the armchair of your house no one hears you. For them to find out, you have to say that #SeAcabó ”, Miranda has requested. Her friend, Medina, adds: “You have to ask for the impossible to achieve the possible.” And in the background, going down from Callao towards kilometer 0 of Madrid, a chant: “Champions, champions, oe oe oe!”.
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