Take Action

Engaging in Dialogue About Gender and Sports

For Spaniards — and for the world — nothing has expressed their country’s traditionally rigid gender roles more powerfully than the image of the male matador. So central was the bullfighter’s masculinity to Spanish identity that a 1908 law barred women from the sport. Ella Es El Matador (She Is the Matador) reveals the surprising history of the women who made such a law necessary and offers fascinating profiles of two female matadors: the acclaimed Mari Paz Vega and neophyte Eva Florencia.

The women in the film are gender pioneers by necessity. Their common threads include a deep passion for bullfighting and an equally deep frustration over the entrenched culture of discrimination against women in the ring. Below are some steps you can take to engage others in dialogue about gender and sports.

Plan an event honoring women athletes. For ideas, visit the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Take Action section, which provides multiple ways for people to take action to support women’s sports, honor woman athlete heroes and advocate for change.

Convene a debate on the pros and cons of allowing women to participate in traditionally male professional sports. Include popular U.S. professional sports that exclude women and girls, such as baseball, football, hockey and boxing.

Work with a Girl Scout troop, after school program or similar group to research and write a biography or oral history of a woman bullfighter, female athlete or a local woman in a non-traditional job. Share your biography/oral history online, in a library display, with other local youth groups or in another community venue.

Engage borderland or Mexican immigrant communities in dialogues about gender roles and/or the role of bullfighting in their own culture.