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A Comment on "Lady's Day at the Bullring"

A quick explanation of why I retweeted a women's bullfighting video from youtube. The simple answer is that I admire real bullfighting. The travails of women trying to make it as bullfighters is also a topic of interest for me.

The reasons are similar to why I follow the women's hockey league. I assert that women athletes of all kinds have more entertainment value that male athletes. Why, should be self evident. As well, whatever they do is usually more focussed on the game itself rather than on making money.

I am a feminist in the sense that I believe giving women a lot more freedom and power in a society has a civilizing and socializing effect. Giving that kind of socially and culturally feminist influence more scope is something I approve. Curbing the subliminally paternalistic and brutalistic message of much of organized athletics is a good thing and an increased participation and control by women is a way to do it.

Yes, women who can do well at games requiring real guts and skill without coming across like butch dykes are very alluring. There are enough of them around but they do not have the opportunities to practice their sport and build an audience that they should have. I do not think that is inevitable; it is because much of professional sport and even nominally "amateur" sport is run by businessmen, who will tend toward the above mentioned paternalism and brutalism.

In Canada an answer to this seems to be the struggle to create a viable space and a revenue source for female practitioners of the national sport. In Spain and Mexico, the right of women to be bullfighters has been a cultural issue. With a team sport the answer is to build women's and girls leagues at all level, and insure adequate community resources for them. Bullfighting is a very lone wolf occupation; each aspiring matadora must find her own manager, sponsor, and fan base, and most critically, get bullring managers to book her.

Bullfighting is said to be the most hide bound and machismatic milieu on earth. It is very tightly controlled by the closed circle of bullring owners. So female bullfighters have a very hard time breaking in. But some of them have had some success and the cracks in the wall are widening somewhat.

Many bullrings now hold a "women's day". The video I retweeted is an example of the problems with that. First of all, most toreras do not like being lumped together; they want to be seen as bullfighters first, not as novelty acts. Many do not even like to be called toreras, feminine of torero, bulfighter.

The bullfight in the video was held in the world's largest bullring in Mexico city but the management there does not seem to like lady bullfighters. There seems to be a deliberate effort to undermine them, to make them look ridiculous. It was better than last year, when they even held the fight on Friday the thirteenth. Matadors tend to be very superstitious.

That time, the bulls were hit so hard by the picador that they were pretty much ruined. The object of the "pick" is to weaken the bulls neck muscles. This usually requires one or two charges at the mounted picador. If the matador thinks the bull is being hit too hard, so he can't put up a good fight, defeating the object of the exercise, he will wave her montera, the "mickey mouse hat", at the bullring autoritas, or referee.

Last year the autoritas ignored the matadoras and kept ordering the picador to keep going. The result was bulls the matadoras could not do anything with. Finally they all stood together in the ring, waving their monteras.

Despite appealing for a fresh bull, Hilda Tenorio wound up actually chasing her bull around the ring. This should never happen; usually when the bull will not charge, the fight is over. El Toro then gets taken care of by the in-house butcher and a more enthusiastic bull is let out.

I have seen videos in which Lupita Lopez, the second matadora in this corrida, is completely sabotaged by her banderillas, who are supposed to be helping her. She had missed with the sword and had to go in with the "spike". Her banderillas were supposed to help her by hemming the bull against the boards so she could take it out and end further suffering of the bull. Instead they kept distracting the bull, making it move side to side, so she could not line up on it. She ended up screaming at them.

Things were not so bad this time. They still scheduled the fight between Christmas and New Years, when bullfights are usually poorly attended. But the bulls were generally lackluster. One kept falling down. A couple were what is called, "complicated"; reluctant to charge, but striking out unpredictably.

Another good way of screwing things up for the matador is to dope up the bulls. This is often done for the same reason it gets done in horse races; to "fix" the outcome. I wonder if that was not going on here.

This was a sort of "official summary" of the fight, with a lot missing. I have ordered the full video from my secret contact in Mexico, so I can see what I am curious about that is not on this summary. Like, how did Hilda do on that third kill? How much "picking" went on and were there objections? Were any substitutions called for?

One of the toreras, Karla De Los Angeles, yes that is her real name, was a novice bullfighter having her "alternativa" that day. To become a matador, you serve an apprenticeship fighting calves and cows in local events called "novilladas". In Spain you have to have been to bullfighting school and then successfully completed 25 novilladas. I think it is less regulated in Mexico.

Hilda and Lupita performed a short ceremony in the bullring, in which Hilda made a speech, Karla pulled a sword from under a folded cape in Hilda's arms, and they all hugged. The bull was impatient and bellowing.

It was not an auspicious debut. She got a complicated bull. But it was also clear that she lacked some skill, probably needed more training and a few more novilladas under her belt. She was not floating the "muleta", the "red rag" in front of the bulls face in the proper way; the bull kept butting it, tore it out of her hands twice. But she certainly had the guts for the job.

Then she went in for the kill. The bull caught her and gored her. She got a bandage on her wound and came out again, to applause. The bull got her again, this time more seriously. As the ring attendants carried her out, the bull got away from the banderillas and charged them, getting her again, plus one of the attendants.

This was a bit dumb. The bull will go after the most prominent object around. Four people carrying one wounded person is a fairly prominent target. The banderillas failed to keep the bull distracted. The other two matadoras had to get in there and get the bull under control.

But Karla is doing okay. Hilda visited her in the hospital the next day and tweeted a picture. Karla will be "in the rubber" for awhile; bullfighter slang for recuperating from an injury.

The video does not show us Hilda finishing off the bull; a very dangerous job because "the bull has learned". She finished off her two bulls well enough, but was awarded no ears. She is the best female bullfighter around, and regularly takes ears and even tails in local bullrings around Mexico. But not here.

Lupita did the alternativa about a year and a half ago. She is noted for her temperamentality and often talks about quitting bullfighting. But she did well here, killing straight both times, but cut no ears.

One of the bulls flipped her but she came up with no injury. Lupita seems to get flipped a lot by the bulls, but never seems to be seriously injured. This may be due to her gymnastic training.

One bull jumped the barrera, the fence around the bullring. Again, this was cut from the video but the bull is reported to have run around the calleon, the alley between the barrera and the contracalleon which protects the spectators, in which the bullfighters wait their turns. The bull managed to gore somebody before it was diverted through a barile, a gate, back into the ring.

This particular bullfight was quite a mess. It is not because females of the human species are innately incapable against males of the bovine species. Recently, there was a bullfight where the bulls flat out won against male matadors. All three of them were too injured to continue. That should have gladdened the hearts of bullfighting non fans.

Ah, yes. The "antitaurinas". The anti bullfighting crowd. There is something about bullfighting that drives the looniest of misanthropists out of the rocks. It seems like women bullfighters attract even greater hysteria. Some of them have retweeted messages from some of these nut cases. There are also the nasty comments below videos of female bullfights.

This material provides a wonderful study of a particular set of psychological problems. "I hope you get raped by a big bull's dick." "I hope you get a horn up your cunt." "Get back in the kitchen, bitch." "Mexicans are subhuman." Often explicit death threats are made.

At best, they are people with what is known as the "pathetic fallacy", I guess because it is so pathetic. They attribute human emotions to animals. Animals are animals. If there were no bullfights, the bullfighting bull would never have been born. Look at the kind of life one has, as opposed to the kind of life a factory farmed meat cow has.

Ah, yes. The factory meat industry. The ones pumping antibiotics and GMO grain into the food stream, while polluting the environment with animal waste. The ones who try to get legislation defining as terrorists legitimate journalists and activists who try to document how meat animals live. And also, who fund "animal rights activists" to go and hound bullfighters instead.

As for this nonsense of "animal torture", I have one simple question; why doesn't the bull run away? Why does he keep charging when he can easily turn away from the bullfighters? Basically, bullfighting opponents have no argument but are able to influence public perception of bullfighting by being loud and aggressive.

But bullfighting people are generally fed up with being harassed by these nutters. Recently Lea Vicens, a French woman bullfighter who works in France and Spain, sued the leader of a French animal rights group and won. That seems to have it toned down a bit.

Okay, this wasn't such a quick explanation. But I think the message is; whether it is bullfighting, women fighting bulls, or women playing hockey, or women boxing, or etcetera, see it and make your own opinion. Do not let stupid and bigoted people make your mind up for you. As well, people who are making money for everybody else deserve at least a decent living themselves. Ole!

Oh, I almost forgot; the actual video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwLAfPYefDI&feature=youtu.be