Most of the non-Spanish people I encounter reveal a common prejudice; that Latin men are oppressive chauvinists, and that we, the wives of these men, suffer under their regime.

I don’t claim to know every single Spanish man, nor do I claim to know Latin Americans well enough to include them in this post. But I do know Spain, and Spain is the country I will be addressing here.

My general impression is that the machismo was stronger in Spain a couple of generations ago. I have traveled a lot to Italy in my life, and also a few times to France. There I have quite recently experienced catcalling in its ugliest form, a whole bunch of times. To compare, in 2017 I spent a total of three months in Spain, and I have been going there about four times a year since 2010, sometimes five weeks at a time. Every time I am there, I go walking by myself (because shopping happens). I have been catcalled once, by a guy I seriously think was mentally disabled.

The minimum sentence for rape in Norway is three years, after having recently been raised from two. Some argue that this change has resulted in fewer convictions, because judges are hesitant to give “such a long” sentence, and hence choose to let the accused go instead. In Spain, there has been at least one case of a catcaller being arrested for his actions. In Norway, the police cannot do anything as long as there has not been physical touching or verbal threats.

When it comes to the protection of women, I believe that Norway is actually behind Spain. Still we like to cling to the idea of the Macho Iberico, and that the Norwegian society is much safer for women regarding sexual violence.

Check this out

These are the degrees of sexual violence and how they are punished in Spain.

Sexual aggression

Basic sexual aggression: The attempt to commit any sexual act (not necessarily penetration) using physical or mental force. Punishable with prison from one to five years.

Aggravated sexual aggression (usually what we call rape): Committing a sexual act using physical or mental force, including vaginal, anal or oral penetration. Punishable with prison from six to twelve years.

Enhanced basic sexual aggression can be applied and punished with prison from five to ten years, under the following circumstances:

• When the violence or intimidation is especially humiliating or degrading for the victim

• When there are two or more perpetrators

• When the victim is especially vulnerable due to factors like age, disability or illness

• When the perpetrator is the parent, child or sibling of the victim

• When there is use of weapons or other dangerous items

Sexual abuse

Basic sexual abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact, but without the victim realizing. This would for instance include a situation where the perpetrator touches a sleeping or passed out victim in inappropriate places. Punishable with prison from one to three years. If the perpetrator is a parent of the victim, the punishment will always go to the maximum.

Aggravated sexual abuse: Same parameters, but including vaginal, anal or oral penetration. Punishable with prison from four to ten years.

Sexual harassment

Basic sexual harassment: Suggesting sexual favors. The relationship between the perpetrator and the victim has to be either work-related, or such as the one of a teacher and his/her student. Punishable with prison from three to five months. If the victim is especially vulnerable, the crime is punishable with prison from five to seven months.

Aggravated sexual harassment: Same conditions as above, but the perpetrator has a superior position and is also threatening to punish the victim if she/he does not comply with her/his requests of sexual favors. Punishable with prison from five to seven months. If the victim is especially vulnerable, the crime is punishable with prison from six months to one year.

Exhibitionism

These punishments are applied when the victim is a minor or for some reason disabled.

Basic exhibitionism: Punishable with prison from six months to one year.

Distribution of pornographic material: Punishable with prison from six months to one year.

Norway

In Norwegian law, rape is defined as the following:

• Obtaining sexual contact through threatening or violent behavior

• Having sexual contact with someone unconscious or unable to resist the sexual act

• Forcing someone to commit sexual acts with others or themselves by threatening or violent behavior

Punishment

• Rape under these definitions can be punished with prison up to ten years

• Rape without any enhancing circumstances are normally punished with four years of prison

• Rape with enhancing circumstances are normally punished with six years of prison

• Prison up to twenty-one years can be considered in circumstances where the victim is left injured for life or dies as a result of the rape

• The minimum punishment for the equal of Aggravated rape in Norway is three years of prison

Some statistics

The following shows the differences in percentage regarding partner violence. As one can read from the figures, the number is higher in Norway than in Spain. Regarding women’s own perception of societal safety, Spain is only one point below Norway, which can be considered marginal.

It is also worth mentioning that in 2011 the average sentence for rape in Norway was three years and four months of prison, although seventy percent are out after having served about two thirds of their time. It is easy to calculate that most of the sexual offenders sentenced to prison in Norway will serve about two years.

Also, check out this map regarding women’s physical safety, and compare Spain to Norway. Underneath you can see the five best countries in the world to be born female, regarding career and welfare. Spain is the only country of significant size on the list and is only marginally worse than the others.

The last table is based on numbers from Statistics Norway and Instituto Nacional de Estadística. The table shows how many years sexual offenders are sentenced to in percentage. As one can read, there is a much higher percentage of long jail time sentences in Spain than in Norway.

Conclusion

I will be the first to admit that I am no lawyer, but the information is out there and it is not difficult to read. I am writing this post because I am tired of people thinking that Spain is such a difficult country to be a woman. I am also confused by the fact that Spanish women tend to look towards Scandinavia when they describe how they would like Spain to be, when Spain actually protects its women to a higher degree than what we do in Norway. Women everywhere are fighting for an increased level of equality, but we should be aware of the numbers, – there is no reason for Spain to idealize us.

And by the way, my husband cooks me dinner every day!

Sources:
https://no.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voldtekt
https://es.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delitos_contra_la_libertad_e_indemnidad_sexuales
https://giwps.georgetown.edu/country/spain/
https://giwps.georgetown.edu/country/norway/
http://www.klartale.no/norge/lav-straff-for-voldtekt-1.334971
https://www.ssb.no/sosiale-forhold-og-kriminalitet/statistikker/straff/aar
http://www.ine.es/welcome.shtml
http://m.libertaddigital.com/opinion/manuel-llamas/no-espana-no-es-un-pais-machista-85000/
http://www.elfederalonline.com/2017/10/12/primera-vez-detienen-riojano-decirle-una-mujer-piropo-subido-tono/
Women Stats Project

Cultural differences are interesting to get to know, and appear in the strangest of forms, – often on subjects where one has not even considered the possibility of their existence. It is usually mostly entertaining, somewhat educational, and – I will not lie – at times slightly annoying. Anyhow, it’s worth writing about, and I hereby declare that the following observations are based on the Spanish and Norwegian individuals of my own life, and might be totally wrong for the rest of the countries’ population, but I tend to think they can be applied to the greater majority. Prior to further reading; brace yourself for stereotypes, generalizations and (although I hate to admit it) exaggerations.

Watching TV while having dinner

Norway: The taboo among dinner customs; mostly considered the practice of dysfunctional families that don’t care for actual communication. Apathetic faces staring blankly at some kind of useless sit-com or TV-shop woman selling a vacuum cleaner, while not noticing that grandma died in her chair an hour ago. In reality, most people dine in front of the TV from time to time, but they DO NOT tell anyone, due to the shame and social exclusion following such a reputation.

Spain: The TV is on most of the time, also whilst consuming one of the many meals during a day in the life of the average Spaniard. Another family member might be watching a youtube video and a third one checking out a song on Spotify. No one turns down the volume, and no one stops the five conversations that are going on across the room at the same time. Watching TV while eating in Spain is not anti-social, and does not mean that you don’t enjoy conversing with your family members. Spaniards are world champions on multitasking and seem to think that no activity excludes another.

Sleeping with the window open

Norway: Ah, fresh breeze from the window, all year round. Thick duvets all the way up to the chin, winter temperatures in the room, slippers ready by the chunky carpet on the floor. No headaches, no old air (as we like to put it), cold nose but a really, really warm body. And the comforting sound of rain or wind slowly lulling you to sleep.

Spain: For PUTA’s sake do not open the window, are you LOCO? Turn on the heat, make sure the vents are closed, the fan is off and that #noairwhatsoever is let in. If there is a tiny breeze from like, your cat sighing, we will get sick. We will get a cold, sniffy noses, sore throats and probably swine flu, aids and rabies. And we will not be subtle about it. We will complain and we will let you know every five seconds that YOU ARE TO BLAME.

Bringing kids into bars

Norway: The first sign of real child abuse. Call teachers, neighbors, the police, social services and the pope. This child is being molested by every single person inside the family, and it is plausible to conclude with both violence and general psychological torture, all to be blamed on the occasional beer within the presence of ~a child~. All future offsprings will be automatically aborted by the prime minister herself.

Spain: A bar is a social place, where there may or may not be a drunk fellow. Anyhow, your kids will not really notice, nor be frightened by them, considering that present parents won’t treat mentioned drunk people as something shameful nor dangerous. Most people however will have a couple of cañas and some tapas, while having their kids run around just like in the average Starbucks. Parents don’t drink enough to get affected by it, and kids are usually having fun with other kids, while their folks earn a well-deserved break from everyday life. All are happy.

Doing stuff

Norway: Let whoever doing something, do it in peace and quiet. Leave the person undisturbed until the task is finished, unless there is something really obvious you can do to help. When in doubt, just ask, but prepare to have your offer to help rejected.

Spain: Your husband, your mother-in-law, her father’s third cousin’s long lost nephew and his dog are coming with you to do whichever task you have before you. They will tell you how to do it, maybe try to do it for you, or discuss the best way to execute the task. Sometimes while staring at you and standing way too close for you to do what you need to do properly.

The concept of NOW

Norway: Being ready to leave NOW means that you’re standing fully dressed by the door with the keys in your hand. NOW describes the moment of something happening instantly, mostly within seconds, with the exception of the real-time (HAHA) signs belonging to the public transport system. Those were probably made by Spanish workers and auctioned away with Norway as the only bidder.

Spain: NOW is relative. NOW can mean right away or within some hours. You can be waking up from your siesta, naked in bed, looking like an earthquake, and telling your hubby you are ready to go NOW, meaning that you will be ready an hour later. Ironically the public transport system is actually reliable, but after the one-minute limit has passed, the real-time sign goes to zero minutes. Otherwise, no one would know when the transport is actually coming, obviously.

Aesthetics

Norway: A scratch on your car must be fixed immediately. Any respectable citizen will renew the kitchen every tenth year or so. Clothes with tiny holes or stains are simply unusable (Trust me, I worked in retail for eight years).

Spain: In Madrid, people actually calculate distances by slightly bumping into the cars in front and behind when parallel parking. Cars get scratches, and nobody cares as long as they still run. Regarding appearances, it is easy to assume that the good people of Spain can be compared with their stylish fellow southern Europeans in France and Italy, but nothing could be further from the truth. Most Spaniards are naturally attractive and charming, but they are also totally chill and casual, and everything but snobbish.

Rules

Norway: Rules are made to be followed! Five hundred grams overweight when you check-in your luggage at the airport means that you pay, – not for four hundred and ninety-nine, not for five hundred and one, – but for five. hundred. grams. Norwegians like equality, and therefore rarely make exceptions from the rules. They also rarely question the rules, if said rules are made by higher forces (meaning the government, not Jesus C.™)

Spain: If you enter a bar that says restrooms are only for paying customers, you might very likely still get to use it if you ask nicely. Also, getting minor services on let’s say, your car, doesn’t necessarily have to cost you a single Eurocent. If the car repairman doesn’t feel like he has really made an effort to solve your problem, he might just say hasta luego baby and leave, while you, having the role of the confused foreigner, are left with your credit card ready, not knowing whether to feel relieved or uncomfortable. No wonder the country has had some economical issues when they insist on working for free. Spaniards are the mere opposite of square, and their relaxed attitude has them bending the rules all the time, especially if the rules imply more work. Which is also why the airport employees won’t even charge you for five kilos overweight.

How the day works

Norway: It is almost socially frowned upon to have a job that does not take place between the hours of eight and four. At five people have dinner, and most of these workers go to bed before eleven, after having put their kids to bed at eight.

Spain: People generally work later, not to mention have dinner no earlier than ten. Before that, they have what they call lunch, which is basically the first dinner of the day. The lucky and/or traditional ones also sleep the famous siesta after dinner number one, and people (including children) go to bed way after the majority of Norwegians are already asleep. It’s like the whole day has been moved three hours ahead, like the primal Spaniards overslept and their descendants never managed to catch up.

Greeting

Norwegian: No one is introducing me. Maybe I just say hola. If I’m in a good mood I’ll wave from afar.
Spaniard: No one is introducing me. Better take matters into my own hands.
Norwegian: Oh-oh, Spanish stranger approaching. What does he/she want?
Spaniard: Why is this person reversing like a car?
Norwegian: Fine, I’ll do a handshake.
Spaniard: Handshake? What are we, politicians? (Damn politicians de mierda) Come here, amigo!
Norwegian: Why is his/her face approaching mine? What are you – ? What? No. No! NOOOOO
Spaniard: That was a good kiss! Now let’s do the other side.
Norwegian: Now what? I thought that was it!
Spaniard: Good thing I didn’t let go of that hand. Better pull. Ngh –
Norwegian: You gotta be kidding me!
Spaniard: There! My work is done.
Norwegian: This trauma will forever haunt my soul.

(Play this inner dialogue in very fast motion to know exactly what happens when a Norwegian and a Spaniard meet for the first time)

Conclusion

Norway Pros:
• Being on time, and actually knowing when people arrive.
• Being left alone when you need to.
• Getting to sleep without sweating through your sheets.
• Routines and rules.

Norway Cons:
• Hysterical and slightly judgemental attitude towards people doing things differently.
• Being left along when you actually do need help.
• Living in a society that basically discriminates everyone who is not an early bird.

Spain Pros:
• Being a part of a very inclusive society, without even trying.
• Not stressing about anything, – no pasa nada! (nothing will happen!) is a very comfortable life motto.
• Having the opportunity to live life as a night owl.
• A life dominated by variation and adaptiveness.

Spain Cons:
• No one is ever on time. On the bright side, that means you don’t have to either.
• Not being given much space when you need it.
• Having your car scratched more frequently.

I guess the pros and cons mostly depend on how one is wired, but I tried to be as objective as possible. That said, I know where I belong.

I’m way above averagely interested when it comes to languages, words and grammar. I simply cannot understand people who move abroad without learning the local language at least decently well. However, I do realize that this interest is what most people would categorize as one of great nerds. I do admit it, but I’m not ashamed. I do not learn languages for practical purposes, but for the joy of it. Because they actually taste good in my mouth. Facepalm? I know.

I started learning Spanish in 2009. It was a quick, sometimes embarrassing, but joyful process. As years went by, I kept on teaching myself the slangiest slang I could possibly find. And I have come to realise that Spanish is a humorous, rich but oh so damn brutal language. If you think your own mother tongue has some juicy stuff, I dare say you will be defeated. Just wait for it. And stop reading if you consider yourself a sensitive soul.

Puta. Everybody knows this one, but I’m starting soft. Puta means whore, but the interesting thing about puta, is that is can be both good and bad. Su puta madre is bad. His/her mother is a whore; obviously bad. Or is it that obvious? Moving on to de puta madre. Es un tío de puta madre! He is a guy from a mother who’s a whore. Great! Best compliment ever! Two small letters difference, guys. Welcome to Spain.

Coño. Probably also a familiar one to certain people, literally meaning pussy. The interesting thing about this one though, is that everybody uses it. All. The. Time. Like, you go to the pharmacy, and the pharmacist drops a package of meds on the floor. PUSSY! I mean, if that happened to me in English or Norwegian, my jaws would drop to the floor. Spanish people don’t even react. At least the female genitalia is not a taboo.

Joder. Literally means fuck, but it’s not really used as a verb. They have another word for that. This one is as frequently used as the previous, and you will hear it from children, sweet old ladies, and everything in between. I’ve even heard a monk say it. Conservative, Catholic Spain, you say?

Soplapollas. Now we are getting into the really interesting ones. This is one of my favorite words and basically means cockblower. I seem to think it translates better to idiot or fool because it somehow has a kind of innocent, humorous touch. Always makes me smile.

La polla. Here comes a piece of provocative language sexism! If something is la polla (the cock), it’s great. Now read the next one.

Un coñazo. This means big pussy, and if something is un coñazo, you can be sure that it is a big pain in the arse!

Cantamañanas. If someone calls you this, it means that you’re kind of an idiot. In a charming, sweet way. It’s not really an insult. Literally, it translates to a morning singer, which I totally identify with, as anyone who interrupts my mornings with singing, is obviously an idiot.

Abrazafarolas. A streetlight hugger! Isn’t that great? It has the same meaning as cantamañanas, but this one is even more descriptive. You hug streetlights as if you were wasted. You can’t be very clever. You’re loving though!

Tienes los cojones grandes y bien plantados. You have big and well-placed balls. A very illustrating way of describing someone who gives a whole lot of fucks.

Cojonudo. Balls are usually a good thing in Spanish. So if something is ballsy, it’s awesome.

Estás como una cabra. Spanish goats must be crazy. If you’re like a goat, that’s exactly what you are.

Eres más raro que un perro verde. You are weirder than a green dog. So many words for calling someone weird!

Eres más simple que el mecanismo de un botijo. You are simpler than the mechanism of a mug. Again, so much work!

Eres más pesado que una vaca en brazos. Pesado means heavy in Spanish, but it is also slang for pain in the ass. Knowing that this joyful phrase gets a double meaning; you are heavier/more of a pain in the ass than carrying a cow in your arms. Also reasonably descriptive.

Eres más tonto que Abundio, que vendió el coche para comprar gasolina. You’re more stupid than Abundio (very, very strange, old Spanish name), who sold his car to buy gas. Maybe there’s a reason why the name isn’t really in use anymore.

Eres más tonto que Abundio, que se cortó una oreja porque la tenía repitida. Abundio again, this time he cut his ear off, because he had two. Who the hell is this guy?

Vete a hacer gargaras con la regla de tu madre. Ok, brace yourself for the worst of them all. Fuck off. Or, as our Spanish friends may say; Go gargle your mother’s period. Grossness times a hundred. This one thankfully isn’t very common, but I for one am saving it for a time someone really insults me. Can’t wait to see their face. Just. So many nopes.

No menees tanto el culo, que se te van a marear las bragas. Now, moving on to the compliments. This somewhat strange phrase translates to; Don’t shake your ass so much, your knickers are gonna get dizzy. Exactly what all women want to hear!

Estás como para comerte y luego coserse el culo para no cagarte. So, you’re on a date with a handsome, dark-haired Spanish Latino lover, he leans forward and whispers in your ear; you are so fine I’m gonna eat you and sew my ass closed so I don’t shit you out again. Seriously? Who makes up this stuff? So, this situation probably wouldn’t happen, because to use this phrase, you got to be like the tackiest person ever to have been born. It does exist, but it’s brutal even to these guys. I can’t help laughing at it though. And the fact that it’s actually meant as a compliment.

Ok, I feel like I blew up the shock scale like three phrases ago. But, if you memorize a few of these ones for your next vacation to Spain, you will definitely impress the locals, and probably make them laugh. Or possibly punch you in the face.

There is more where it came from.