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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Engage borderland or Mexican immigrant communities in dialogues about gender roles and/or the role of bullfighting in their own culture.
Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.
This guide is an invitation to dialogue. It is based on a belief in the power of human connection, designed for people who want to use Ella Es El Matador (She Is the Matador) to engage family, friends, classmates, colleagues and communities. The film is an excellent tool for outreach and will be of special interest to people interested in topics including animal rights, bullfighting, cultural expression, dance, feminism, gender, machismo, performance art, sociology, Spain, women in sports and women's studies.
This lesson plan is designed to be used with the film Ella Es El Matador (She Is the Matador), which shows the struggles that two women face while trying to succeed in the male-dominated world of bullfighting in Spain. Classrooms can use this film and its companion website resources to spark student interest in those who have fought for equal opportunities for women in other “arenas.”
This multimedia resource list includes books, films and other materials related to the issues presented in Ella Es el Matador. Learn more about women matadors and explore the history, art and technique of bullfighting.