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Domestic Violence And Race In Spain

Updated on September 29, 2014

Domestic violence and race are two issues that affect every country in the world. Here we get to see two examples of them in Spanish Film. Illegal immigrants and their struggles affect the United States as well as Spain. In the film, Poniente, immigrants from North Africa have a terribly difficult time building a life for themselves in the Spanish countryside. The immigrants are not even granted entrance to the same bars and restaurants where Spaniards go. They work long hours for little pay, and their Spanish boss Miguel (Antonio Dechent) is a ruthless capitalist, governed by self-interest, and he has not sympathy for the immigrants, refusing to treat them fairly. When his cousin Lucia (Cuca Escribano) returns home, she is set to take over the greenhouse where Miguel has been governing the immigrant workers, but Lucia has more sympathy for them than Miguel. Likewise, she falls in love with a sensitive man, Curro (Jose Coronado), who also has compassion for the immigrants. Intense difficulties ensue, and the movie ends in tragedy, as the immigrants are left with no jobs and no options.

Immigration is certainly a difficult and delicate issue for Spain to face. Discrimination against race is an easy way to exploit and control a people, especially if you have massive popular support. Hard economic times have hit the Poniente territory, and things seem to be difficult for native Spaniards, too. In a bad economy, where everyone fights for the own survival interests, people often step on each other. If Spaniards can use their race against the race of these North Africans as an economic advantage, then it gives them the upper hand and more money and power. Economics are often a guiding force behind racism, and they ability of the people in power to stay in power and keep others from taking their power from them. Miguel is a good example of this exploitation, while Lucia, an educated city girl now, sees a larger perspective. Curro, too, a more worldly personality, sees beyond the shallowness and greed of the local Spaniards.

Yet it is important to note that the oppression here is racially based even though it is economically motivated. Often times, there is economic slavery that does not discriminate based on race but on class. Here we see the local Spaniards single out groups of people in a provincial mentality. It is also true, that, in this movie, as in life, racism occurs more pointedly in rural regions. Urban life often forces people to accept diversity and variety, in cultures and in relationships. But rural life divides itself more sharply across racial lines. The characters that most accept the immigrants, Lucia and Curro, are both familiar with urban life in more liberal settings.

Domestic violence also is an issue that is universal to the human struggle, not necessarily confined more to one country than another. The movie The Doy Mis Ojos is a heart-wrenching drama of intensity that gives a thorough glimpse into the reality of domestic abuse. The movie is especially good at showing the psychological forces inside the characters, and anyone who watches this movie will no doubt learn a lot about the psychological patterns that occur in abusive relationships. Pilar is the oldest daughter of an emotionally cold mother who falls in love with a blue-collar worker named Antonio. The movie begins with Pilar leaving her husband, as he has just beat her down, and the movie ends the same way, with her leaving him and vowing that she has had enough. As seen in this movie, there are psychological problems on both sides of the relationship, in Antonio and in Pilar. These characters give a classic example of a violent, angry abusive husband and his emotionally paralyzed wife.

The abuser, like Antonio, is usually governed by an immense insecurity and fear. And the only way he knows how to deal with that fear about his relationship and to attempt to control partner by force. With angry verbal attacks escalating into physically violent assaults, the abuser intimidates and weakens his partner, so that she will be too scared to leave him. The partner, like Pilar, ends up living in constant fear of her husband, and she desperately wants to please him and not do anything to upset him. In most cases, both people learn their behavior from their parents in some form. Pilar is the oldest child of a martyr, passive-aggressive mother who was also a victim of a hostile marriage, so Pilar in turn follows suit. Her younger sister, Ana, did not receive the full amount of her family's dysfunction, and Ana has turned out healthier, healthy enough to be Pilar's primary emotional support. The abusive husband, like Antonio, probably learned it from his father. At the very least, he has lived with tremendous fear and insecurity for a long time, and he has never learned how to cope with it. The part of the movie when Antonio goes to therapy is a great window into the mind of the abuser, as the therapist helps him understand his feelings so that he does not react to them.

Both these issues are huge in our society, and both are windows into the dark side of the human psyche. These two movies give great windows into the realities of these types of situations, and the viewer can see that behind these politicized issues are real people with real feelings.


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