Spain's pinko prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has just begun his second term, and his commitment to gender parity in government is unparalleled: For the first time, women outnumber men 9 to 8 in the Spanish cabinet. Even more revolutionary is the fact that Spain's first female defense minister, Carme Chacón, 37, is seven months up the stick. Marisa Sotelo, president of the the Spanish Women's Foundation, says, in an interview with Time, that the impression of a pregnant women leading a group of soldiers is "an important image precisely because it conveys normality...It serves a pedagogic function: it shows that women can be and are everywhere." Unsurprisingly, not all of Spain is thrilled that a very pregnant woman will be leading Spanish troops. A conservative military association consisting mostly of retired soldiers called Chacón's appointment a sign of "contempt."
Not all of the responses to Chacón are so blatantly sexist, though many traffic in deeply held stereotypes of women. Some are saying that the appointment of a woman who lacks military training is sending a pacifist message — you know, 'cause wimmins hate war. Maribel Montaño, secretary for equality during Zapatero's first term, says that "a woman in full womanhood [leading troops]...shows that the army doesn't just have to fulfill this masculine role of force. It can be more feminine, more humanitarian." Zapatero has a record of anti-war decisions, for instance, NATO has been trying to get him to increase the number of Spanish troops in Afghanistan. He has resisted, so far.
Spanish citizens are also curious about what will happen two months from now when Chacón gives birth (Spain gives women 16 weeks of maternity leave). No doubt her continued professional excellence will quiet the right wing critics who are calling the women of Spain's cabinet an "army of seamstresses", but we predict Chacón will be fighting a more personal war at home... that of new-mother sleep deprivation.
Spain's Pregnant Defense Minister [Time]
Women Dominate Spanish Cabinet [BBC]
An 'Armchair Feminist' Who Conquered Spain [Guardian]