From Rubia to Rabia

Hi, Sarah here again. I’m back on the blog to comment on something which has affected me over my time here, much more than I had anticipated. I arrived in Andalucia, as you may remember from my blog photo, with bright blonde hair and blue eyes. I stood out like a sore thumb in contrast to the dark brown-haired, smoky-eyed Spaniards. Now I’m not a shy person, but neither am I overly flirtatious, especially with people I’ve never seen or met before, but little did I know just how much attention my hair would attract. From shouts and sniggers across the streetm to bumper car taunts of ‘La rubia, la rubia!’ (‘Get the blonde!’), the male Spanish population of all ages clearly has no hesitation about getting its point across when it comes to women with light-coloured hair. By comparison, as a student walking down Market Street in central Manchester, if anyone bats an eyelid at you at all, it’s because your skirt’s tucked in to your knickers, or because the rain has caused streams of mascara to run down your face. This attention is therefore usually avoidable. But in Estepona, Marbella or even Seville, is it really just because you look foreign? Or is it to females in general? I asked the staff in my office, male and female, and they know exactly what I’m talking about. So this isn’t because I look foreign, it is just because I am female. So where does this need to be heard come from? Is it part of the macho society, where some men still feel superior to women? Or is it simply part of the Andalucian need to express yourself openly and without restraint? In my opinion, the taunts are belittling - why don’t they start a conversation with a woman, rather than scaring us off with a shout? Should I be grateful that they notice me and think that I’m guapa or bellisima? No, although I’d be pleasantly surprised if they actually spoke to me as a person and not as an object. Halfway through the summer, I decided to change my hair colour, as a result of all these unwarranted comments. I thought that going brunette would reduce the amount of attention I was getting. It didn’t. It made no difference at all, night or day, and so presumably it’s just something you have to accept. I definitely won’t miss these shouts and jeers when I return to England in a few days, after my six-month stay here. While they haven’t had a detrimental effect on my well-being or state of mind, they have been an annoyance that I felt the need to comment on. I hope that some of the culprits will start to realise that their taunts don’t work and instead find a new, more appropriate tactic like, for example, the use of full sentences!
Blog published on 20 December 2010