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MJ
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PostSubject: Spanish Stereotypes   Thu Nov 26, 2009 9:38 am

I've foud the following post at Tripadvisor.com and I think it's quite interesting.
Why don't you read it and then write your opinion about it?
What is your idea of the typical Spanish citizen, if such citizen exists, and what are Spanish people really like?




The Truth About Spanish Stereotypes




Many stereotypes about Spain have little to do with today’s reality. In 1950 Spain was a poor country, still trying to recover from its civil war, and many stereotypes arose at that time. Once Spain had the 9th highest gross domestic product (GDP) in the world and it did have one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. Spain used to be a cheap country to visit, but no longer. Cost of living increases means that Madrid is the 26th most expensive city in the world now, and Barcelona No. 31. However with the fall in the housing market economy Spain's out look is rather dull.

Spain turns out quality products which it sells abroad. One of the leading brands in the world today is Zara, which sells clothing and is a favorite among young people all over the world. They use a very sophisticated computer program that knows what items are selling well, and which are not. The items that are not selling well are immediately replaced with new items. Their short time between design and having new items in stores is one of their secrets of success, and they can react to changing fashion tastes immediately. This sophistication has made the owner of Zara one of the richest men in the world and shows that Spain is not backward.

A study ( unclear where this information has come from) shows that Americans and Southeast Asians are the people who believe more in these stereotypes. Stereotypes are used as mental shortcuts to classify people quickly. They are usually wrong, dangerous, and be the basis for prejudice. This essay will try to look at some of the common stereotypes.

Spain is the European country after France that has the most tourism. When the Spanish government had tourist campaigns in other countries in the past, they showed the sunshine, the beaches, flamenco dancing, and bullfighting. This may have helped create some of the stereotypes about Spain. Today Spain needs a new image, to show how modern and progressive it is. They need to develop a national brand that is closer to reality. Let us look at some stereotypes.

1. The Spanish are lazy and love to sleep the siesta.

In the European Union, the Spanish have the longest working hours and they work very hard. You do not get to have the (once) 9th highest GDP in the world by being lazy. Yes, the Spanish like to sleep the siesta, but only about 20% of them can do so, and those are the retired and the ones who live in small rural towns. The population of Spain is concentrated now in big and medium sized cities. Many people now live in the suburbs, quite far from where they work, and do not have time to go home for lunch, what with the traffic. So they cannot sleep the siesta. They probably sleep the siesta on weekends, when they can.

Health authorities say that it is healthy to sleep the siesta, so that the body can recover during the day. The siesta was much more of an occurance in the past, especially in the south of Spain, because of the heat. Now air conditioning is everywhere and this has changed many things.

The Spanish also have less vacation than their other European counterparts.

The Spanish also sleep less than other Europeans.

2. Spain is the land of sunshine and beaches.

This is true. Spain has more sunshine than the rest of Europe because it is at the southern tip of Europe. Yet its geography is very varied. There are the central plateau, the Mediterranean coast, the Atlantic coast, and the Pyrenees. In the north there is less sun than in the south and in the central plateau it can get very cold in winter. The sun is predominant along the Mediterranean and in the south, in Andalusia. Of course the north can be colder and has more rain throughout the year than the south.

The beaches in Spain have a very wide variety, from the Mediterranean to the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands to the waves along the North coast. So this stereotype is true. Some beaches are monitored on a daily basis and there are high standards of cleanliness required to have the European Blue Flag, the sign of quality.

3. Spain is the land of bullfights.

The bullfight is no longer considered a sport in Spain, but is described as a cultural tradition. Yes, there are bullfights in Spain, but their popularity is decreasing every year. Today only 25% of the population supports bullfighting and young people prefer going to football (futbol) games. The majority of people who go to bullfights are middle aged and older people. In some communities, bullfights are no longer allowed. This tradition is entering a crisis because fewer people attend the bullfights every year. There is now a growing and progressive majority that wants to get rid of the bullfight because it considers the bullfight as something cruel, something that is irrelevant to modern life. Time will tell!

There are powerful economic forces that want to keep the bullfights alive. There are rich groups that grow the bulls for the bullfights. A popular bullfighter in Spain has been reported to make more than 5,000,000 euros a year. The owners of the bullrings want to keep the bullfights. Many politicians want the bullfights, especially if their communities enjoy the bullfights. Time will tell!



4. Spain is the land of flamenco.

It is said that the majority of the population do not know how to dance flamenco. Flamenco has its stronghold in Andalusia, especially in Seville. Flamenco is not an easy dance, and one has to go to dance school to learn it. Flamenco dancers are very dedicated people because of the difficulty of the dance, and it requires constant practice. Every region of Spain has its traditional dance, but definitely the flamenco is the most dramatic dance. The gypsies of Andalusia were and are the stars and experts of this dance. There are famous flamenco schools in Spain now that attract a large number of foreigners from Europe, the Americas, and the Orient.

5. All Spanish people have dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin.

This stereotype is not true. Remember that the Vandals stayed in Spain for a short period, and the Visigoths stayed in Spain for centuries. These two tribes were Germanic tribes and they left their genes in Spain. Today there are many fair skinned people with light colored eyes and natural blond hair. It is said that the Celts, left Norht west Spain for Ireland, Wales and evertually Scotland.

The dark skin is not natural, and people who live in the South or along the Mediterranean coast may have a deep tan, but that is because they may spend a lot of time outdoors while the sun is shining. Also among all of the Spanish, a deep tan is a status symbol, meaning that one has the time and money to be vacationing on the beach.

6. Spain is the land of paella and sangria.

Yes, this is true. The Spanish love paella and in almost every part of Spain one can find some sort of paella in the restaurants. In many parts of Spain, when people go out to the countryside to partake of nature, instead of a barbecue, they will cook a paella. The paella has many different forms and the most famous one is the paella Valenciana, originally from Valencia. If one goes to Valencia, one can try the many different forms of paella. There is one that looks black, because it is made with little squids and their ink makes the paella look black.

The sangria is not so popular with the Spaniards, as it is with tourists. The Spanish prefer to drink good red wine from nationally famous DOs. Red wine is drank with everything in Spain. In other countries there are rules, such as that with fish one drinks white wine, but in Spain they prefer to drink red wine.

Wine making is one of the principal industries in many parts of Spain, such as in La Rioja. Spanish wines have found favor in many foreign countries because they have very good quality at very reasonable prices. Spanish wines have won prizes over famous wines from other European countries. The Spanish winemakers are modernizing their wine making facilities and planting better varieties of wine. In the south of Spain, such as in Jerez, they produce sherry ( a fortifide wine).

7. Spain is the land of fiestas.

Yes, this is true. Every city, town and village has a fiesta once a year. Many times it is to honor their patron saint. People in Spain like to have fun and the fiesta is the time to have it. This is the reason that many foreigners come to visit Spain, to see and enjoy the fiesta. Most of the fiestas are very colorful events, when the Spanish put on the costumes of their region and cook the food their region is famous for.

8. The Spanish love their ham.

This is true. The most appreciated ham among the Spanish is the “pata negra” from the province of Huelva. The pigs from this region have black hooves, and that is the meaning of “pata negra”. The pigs eat acorns in oak forests. The acorns have very high contents of antioxidants, so the ham from these pigs are quite lean and healthy. Scientific studies have shown that eating this type of ham will lower one’s cholesterol. The ham has a slightly nutty taste and is considered a gourmet item in Spain.

Many other people in the world have visited Spain and tried the ham and now have a taste for it. Spain is about to start exporting this ham to all parts of the world. One Spanish company has won approval to sell its ham to the U.S., a very big potential market. Spain is also trying to sell ham to China, a country that loves pork products.

9. The Spanish men are latin lovers.

The majority of Spanish men do not meet the stereotype of the latin lover. However the latin lover is alive and well in Spain. One just has to look at national TV, which loves to report on the exploits of many famous playboys. These playboys are tall, not necessarily dark, but all of them are very handsome and very macho. They are armed with huge amounts of charm, are very entertaining, and are very experienced in the arts of seduction. Their victims are young beautiful women, many who have money. So these men are like bees, pollinating as many flowers as possible. However the Don Juan types are not good husband material, because once they conquer someone, they lose interest and look for another. Many foreign women succumb to these men, to their later anguish and regret.

Because of the mixture of races, one can say that the genes Spanish have are very strong and vibrant, and they produce very beautiful women and handsome men. One has to just sit at a sidewalk café and observe the people passing by to see some physically very beautiful people passing by. This is one of the joys of visiting Spain!

10. Conclusions

There is much more to Spain than what the stereotypes paint. Spain is a modern, industrialized country, with a high economic growth rate. The Spanish are determined to improve their standards of living. They also want to project a new image to the rest of the world because some of the stereotypes about them are negative and are not true. They will keep the positive stereotypes.
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Frankie

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PostSubject: Re: Spanish Stereotypes   Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:22 am

I agree with the explanation about which stereotypes are true and which are false. However, I think it is difficult to speak about Spanish citizens in general because, in my opinion, a person from the north is very different from one from the south and, sometimes, people living near another country may have more in common with the inhabitants of that country than with the Spanish people who live more than 1000 km away. I don’t like stereotypes and I completely agree that they are cause of prejudice. I think that Spanish citizens aren’t very different from other Europeans like the French or the Italian and, probably, the differences will be even fewer in the future because it will be much more common to travel abroad and work in other countries and this will carry us into a mixture of cultures. Very Happy I'm glad to see that new people have joined this forum.
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PostSubject: Re: Spanish Stereotypes   Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:25 pm

I don't like sleeping the siesta; I usually live under a constant pouring rain (in Asturias); I hate bullfights as I consider they're very cruel shows, the modern Roman circus!; I can't dance flamenco; my skin is very pale; I do know white wine is for fish and red wine is for meat; (well, yes, I love fiesta, paella and ham, but who doesn't?) And I'll tell you something: I am Spanish! Can you believe it after reading that text above? Razz

The problem with those stereotypes is they generalize too much, forgetting Spain is a big country made of many different inner cultures. As Frankie's said, northern people are very different from their southern neighbours. We all know that every region of Spain has its own traditional meals and regional costumes just as if they were different countries! So why on Earth are we going to generalize about traditions?

After living abroad, I did notice a few things about our behaviour in general:

- Spanish people are much louder than other European citizens. It can be a nightmare to keep a conversation going in a restaurant while the football is on and everybody is shouting around you.

- We tend to touch the person we are talking to. Watch out, this can be considered a very rude thing sometimes!

- We wave our hands too much when speaking. I only realized of that when a Scottish friend started imitating me one day;that was funny!

- We are not very good at manners. We 'forget' to say 'please' and 'thank you' all the time and, again, it is a very rude thing to do. I think we forget our good manners because we don't really need to say 'please' and 'thank you' as often in Spanish, we can use a special intonation instead. But it is a must in English, always, remember that!

That's all for now.
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Nacho

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PostSubject: Re: Spanish Stereotypes   Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:12 pm

I think that generalizing is a mistake. Spain is the product of the union of many cultures, which have made our country a mixture of different traditions. This is quite good because if you travel all around Spain you can find a lot of different things.

Nowadays, times have changed. We are living in a global era and the differences between countries are less emphasized. I agree with Frankie. We aren’t very different from other cultures, specially from Mediterranean countries.

Anyway, I like to read about stereotypes. Sometimes they are very funny. I’m a Spaniard but I don’t like flamenco, I hate it. I prefer rock music, mainly British or American rock. I never sleep the siesta and I don’t like bullfights. However, I like red wine and ham, these are two of the best Spanish things I know!!
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PostSubject: stereotypes   Tue Dec 08, 2009 3:59 pm

When we talk about stereotypes, I always think that most times, they are unfair on people or scornful. Some of them mean discrimination against women, nationality or social class and they could be racist.

But, on the other hand, they can also be funny and maybe true. I am a very optimistic and positive person, so, I tend to stereotype in the positive way.

Talking about the Spanish stereotype:
I think it is true that we love to sleep the siesta, but we are not lazy at all. Siesta is for healthy people not for lazy ones.

Of course Spain is the land of sunshine and beaches, we have wonderful weather, but Spain is also one of the countries with a richest cultural life. We know how to do several different things at the same time.

Spain is much more than the land of flamenco and bullfights, for example, most people from the north do not like them and they cannot understand this kind of festivities; but it is true, we always have time to enjoy ourselves, parties are an important part of our culture.

We love ham, paella, sangria, sidra, fabada… Do you know anyone who doesn’t?

I am not sure Spanish men are latin lovers, maybe some of them are and I cannot find where they are.

Anyway, I like our character and in general, I think we can show a good image to the rest of the world.
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