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Comments on "The Bull and the Ban" and on the appeal of Women as bull fighters

I lately downloaded and watched "The Bull and the Ban", a documentary by Catherine Tosko. I have been trying to find it or the book for awhile. It about met my expectations although I am not sure about this "Distrify" system for marketing videos. I got to see the film and play it back a few times for $5, but now it is gone. I would even like to get it on disk because it is such a good refutation of anti-bullfighting fanaticism.

the bull about the ban

Okay, folks; the ban on Bullfighting in Catalonia has nothing directly to do with the people there not liking La Corrida. It is all about this quasi fascist party holding power in Catalonia, who would like to separate from Spain. Compared to these folks, the Quebec separatists are fairly civil and the Scottish nationalists are downright charming.

Tosko is British but lives in Catalonia. She likes bullfights and making documentary films. She does not like Catalan Nationalists and bullfighting haters.

She finds it hypocritical that the Catalan nationalists have banned bullfighting because it is a symbol of Spain but keep the practice of tying balls of burning pitch to bulls horns, which would be incredibly painful for the bulls, and running them through the streets, because that is a Catalan thing. For some Catalans, anyway.

As for bull fight opponents in the rest of the world, Catherine has made the puzzling discovery that a lot of this is financed by a multinational pet foods manufacturer with headquarters in the United States. Perhaps this is misdirection; giving animal rights groups another target to go after instead of the pet food industry. They get left alone as they throw worn out and mistreated horses and milk cows into the meat grinders to make contaminated food for dogs. Go bother the bullfighters, instead.

Tosko's film shows what real animal cruelty is all about, showing us footage of how animals get killed in slaughterhouses. Or rather, not killed. Guiech! All so that we can eat hamburgers and wear leather shoes.

This is juxtaposed with the way the matador does the job. Ole! If you actually look at what goes on in a bullfight, it becomes clear that the bull is not feeling too much pain or fear. If he is, why is he not noisily running away? Instead he keeps on attacking.

The wounds the bull suffers during the fight are superficial. They are no more severe than what the bulls hand out to each other in dominance fights back at the ganaderia (ranch). In the end he gets a surprise from the matador's sword, but his troubles are over in a minute or two.

Yes, it can sometimes look a bit messy. But there is no pretty way to kill something, especially when it is counterattacking and has room to maneuver. Is the bull supposed to live forever? Does nothing die, including people?

This is the problem with the anti-taurine crowd, according to Tosko; they have an infantile view of the world. They do not care about the bull; they will consume animal products despite the inhumanity of factory farming and slaughtering. They just do not want the blood and gore out where they can see it; mommy, mommy, make it go away.

I might add something further from my own observations from reading comments underneath bullfighting videos on youtube. A lot of the bullfight opponents, especially English speaking ones, seem to be afraid of their own latent sadism. They describe in great detail what the bull should do to that terrible, barbarous bitch, in that country of subhumans...dirty Mexicans! ( It is actually happening in Spain and the matadora is doing a good job.)

women in the bullring

I have always liked bullfighting, ever since I watched an old monochrome documentary about it on TV when I was a kid. But since the advent of Youtube I have been able to actually watch more bull fighting and develop my taste for it. I doubt if I will ever be able to see a live one.

However, I am one of these strange afficionados who like to watch the ladies fight the bulls. Much has been spoken and written about the trouble women have trying to get recognition as bull fighters. A few good ones have quit the ring, frustrated by the "machismo".

The doors are slowly opening up for the "toreras". There are five practicing woman matadors "matadoras" in the world now, an all time record. There are some good rejoneadoras now, who fight from horseback. And the girls are even trying to break into the world of Recortes, dodging the bulls without harming them.

We have Hilda Tenorio and Lupita Lopez in Mexico. We have Mari Paz Vega and Sandra Moscoso in Spain. And there is Milagros Sanchez from Peru. There are some promising apprentices; Conchi Rios in Spain and Melina Parra in Mexico.

Hilda Tenorio

Hilda is probably the best of them. Yet right now she is having a hard time getting back into the game after being laid up with an injury. The bull did not catch her; somehow she tore her achilles tendon when she went in with the pokey sticks (banderillas). Poor dear.

A few years back, she wrenched her knee badly while doing the same thing and was out for a couple of years. This is curious; with athletes this tends to happen when they overtrain and develop muscle imbalances, especially when they use steroids. She does not look like she is on steroids, with tight skin and so on, but she is very fit.

I follow her on twitter. I know as much Spanish as Babylonian, but Google Translate helps a lot. She does seem obsessed about training and much of her twitterings are about that and her various sports, especially squash.

I think a lot of this is to convince bullfight promoters that she is now fit and ready for service, after her time "in the rubber", recovering form injury. She is going crazy waiting for another fight; she may snap and start chasing some milk cow around. Poor dear.

She bounced back just when the bullrings in Mexico had finalized their schedules for the season. She had one fight but it was cancelled a few days before the event. Then she got another one but it was cancelled soon after it started because the picadors turned out to be drunk. Poor dear.

She does have her frustrations. I have a DVD of a "ladies day" bullfight in Mexico. Hilda, Lupita, and Mari Paz Vega from Spain were on the bill. The manager of the bull fight did not approve of women fighting bulls and did everything to make a mess out of it.

First, he had the Picadors overdo it with the bulls so they could not fight well. Eventually, all three matadoras would come out in the ring, waving their mouseketeer hats ( monteros), signaling the ring president to tell the Sancho Panzas (picadors) to ease up; to no avail. They got some bulls who could not or would not fight and the ring president declined their requests to exchange them. So Hilda ended up chasing a bull around the ring, looking incredibly frustrated; so sad/funny. Poor dear.

Even worse, Lupita missed with the sword and had to go after the bull with the descabella. The banderillas, who were not her own choice, made things hard instead of easy for her. They flapped their capes and distracted the bull when she wanted it to hold still. Lupita is noted for an explosive temper and she flipped and started screaming at them. They finally behaved and let her finish off El Toro.

These three seem to fight together quite often. I can not quite make out the sense of much of the bullfighting journalism, but they seem to get into some fights with each other. Yet they seem to hang out together outside the bull ring, so it is probably just professional rivalry or joking. Hilda posts pictures on twitter of her hugging MariPaz while making goofy faces, over jokes about how superior she is as a bullfighter.

Rejoneadoras

There is also some sort of rivalry going on among the rejoneadoras, the horseback bullfighters. I am following Lea Vicens and Noelia Mota.

Noelia is Spanish. For awhile she was the idol of the Spanish rejoneo audience, after she had an awful fall a few years ago; she was put into an induced coma for three weeks. Amazingly, she recovered with no permanent effects and went right back to sticking it to bulls.

Noelia is a puzzle. She is very good in the ring, really fearless, though a bit showy. But in interviews she seems very high strung and sometimes a bit arrogant. Her father is very wealthy. It seems she did not do well in school, has some sort of learning disorder.

Lea Vicens is French. Her back ground is more common, though she has a university degree. She lives and trains her horses in Spain, on the ranch of an old rejoneador star from the 1950s and 60s, Angel Peralta.

"Don Angel", alias "The Centaur", fought bulls until he was 70. He is now 87 and still rides and helps train Lea. But you can see evidence on a video of goings on at the Peralta ranch that he is fairly senile. Yet Lea seems to really adore him, calling him her "master".

Lea and Noelia are often on the same program as the former grows in popularity. Yet there seems to be some friction between them, some jealousy. I found an interesting comment Lea made in an interview, about her dislike of "daddies girls" and how proud she is of training her own horses and getting going in rejoneo "starting from scratch". She mentioned one such daddies girl whose daddy bought her a whole string of horses already trained. Who does that sound like?

But Lea has the ladies rejoneo almost to herself right now. Her fellow French woman Marie Sara has retired. Joanna Andrade from Portugal is riding. The younger Portuguese, Ana Rita, no last name, has been injured. Ana Rita is of a slight build, with pixie like features, yet with this booming voice which no doubt scares the bullshit out of the bulls.

And Noelia has been injured again. I even found the video of it. Something was wrong with her that day. She was not placing the sticks very well and seemed to be having problems with her horse. Then the horse bucked her off and the bull went after her, flipping her twenty feet into the baril, the arena wall. It seems she is expected to fully recover but it will take awhile.

Even Lea's best horses are becoming celebrities. I often read of how Betico and Caramelo are doing. Lea also has a pet bull back at the ranch which she raised from a bottle and now uses to train her horses. He is called "Califa" and follows her around like a puppy dog.

But she is not popular with the "antitaurinistas", even back in France. She got onto a talk show on French TV and got ambushed; subjected to a lot of smirking and sneering from what I could see. I could not get a translation.

She tweeted that she has now gotten 5000 hate messages, some of them containing serious threats. Threats from bullfight haters are to be taken seriously. The English Matador Frank Evans has had letter bombs sent to him.

So I tweeted her in English urging her not to let haters get her down. She tweeted me back in English! Oh, joy! I think I will keep this one for my scrap book, or whatever you do with tweets. Are there electronic scrapbooks?

recortadoras

Before I go I should mention the adventures of Carolina Delgado in the "other bullfighting". That is, Recortez, where they do not kill the bull, or touch it in any way. They just dodge it and even jump over it. In Recortez the bulls are said to die of old age. The bull fight haters seem to hate this just as much as the "Andalusian" style of bull fighting.

But Recortez people, or "Aragonese" style bull fighters, are even more bull headed about letting the girls come and play in their sandbox. Carolina Delgado, of dark complexion, great height, and big nose, has been trying to make it as a recortadora and has been getting a lot ofbull shit about it.

The trouble is that Recortez people work as teams rather than with individual performances. Everyone is equal. But girls are not equal in the Recortez world. "No like girls. Girls... for da other things".

I think she was able to participate for awhile because she was the girlfriend of the captain of a Recortez team. But that situation did not last. I find videos of these jerks actually pushing her out of the ring, which really put her big shnozzle out of joint. She started flapping a cape in their faces. That she is taller than half of them would no doubt also have something to do with it.

A Recortez team is usually four and you need at least two people to function in Recortez; one to "trim" the bull and other to distract it. Carolina has finally found a partner to play with; Melany San Jose. So they are going around the Recortez circuit as a sort of novelty act, between the men's teams performances.

This is what most of the woman bullfighters seem to fear, being treated as a novelty and not taken seriously in their profession. At least they are getting gigs. Interestingly, Melany is a lot more attractive than Carolina but the camera tends to stay on Carolina.

There is a younger generation of Recortadoras coming up. There is a team made up of two sisters who seem to be twins, Sara and Coral, and their friend Rocio. They look about 12 or 13.

They are only dodging calfs, but you can imagine the shit storm if this was done in North America. We have too many jerkoffs here who want to run everybody else's lives.

I think Sara and Coral are related to Noelia Mota. They have the same last name and there is video of Noelia talking familiarly with them.

girl watching

To conclude, we need more lady bullfighters. We need more female athletes as well. I do not see how this is hard to understand; women doing athletic things, things needing skill and guts, have much more entertainment value than men doing the same things.

I suspect that, like in the bull fighting world, the reason men do all the performing in most athletics is because the business of it is controlled by men. Rather, men of a certain type. It is not necessarily because the public only wants to see men.

This is not to say I would like to see women exploited for sheer sexual attraction, such as with the lingerie footballers. I would just ask why so many men who would consider themselves to be "heterosexual" want to watch other men do these sorts of things, but are not interested in watching women do them. Is this natural or is it something cultural?

There are some internet discussion groups out there so I know I am not the only weirdo in the world who gets off on evil animal torturing witches. They seem to occur in the strangest of places, although a lot of them are strange. There is a guy in Pakistan who keeps drawing these brilliantly colored and almost pornographic pictures of his favorite Toreras and posting them. I worry a bit about him.

why not?

This milieu of lady bullfighters is not something to get obsessed about but it works as a hobby. Much of the fun of it is that they are doing something which nasty, small people hate so much. But it is a good underdog story, too.

The Toreras really do challenge conventional notions of masculinity in countries considered to be the bastions of such notions. Most of them have had to fight very hard for some space in which to succeed and to develop an audience. So;

Seguid así, señorita toreras. Lo suficientemente bueno