Women who run with the cows

Group in Pamplona makes winking case for gender and bovine equity.


Lynn Harris
July 11, 2007 6:43PM (UTC)

To outsiders, it might appear to be the kind of equality to fight for -- once, say, full political and economic parity have been achieved worldwide. But as Reuters and others report, a student group in northern Spain has mounted a campaign for full gender equity in Pamplona's annual Running of the Bulls, which began on July 7. If men can run with the bulls, they argue, their counterparts should be able to run with ... their counterparts. The winking title of this initiative: The Cows Want to Run.

Publicized by the Spanish-language student networking Web site Estudiln.net, the group's manifesto reads, in part: "The running of the cows would fill a fundamental lack: that is, what are the women supposed to do at 8 AM while the guys are risking their lives?" And: "A little exercise, after so much alcohol and snacks, wouldn't be so bad for us." They also suggest that adding a cow run would reduce the average number of mishaps, given the "laid-back attitude of the female bovine." Fuzzy math, but whatever. Funny!

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What's really hilarious, though, is that when the feminists are being funny, ha ha, no one seems to get it. Reuters, and pretty much all the rest (many of whom got the story from the Reuters wire, of course), reported this one with an absolutely clueless at-their-word straight face, like aliens whose home planet lacks irony. Some bloggers and commenters even went to the trouble to explain that since the event has to do with bullfighting, it doesn't make sense for cows to run. Which is about like saying "But you can't just eat poor Irish children!" We see the mildly serious -- and symbolic -- point the group is trying to make: While women are technically allowed to run, according to our man in Pamplona (a Broadsheet writer just back from there), the police don't love it when they do. So those who are serious about running often "have to" dress as men. But come on, people! I mean, even Google can translate the Spanish word humor correctly into English.

Update(s): In the interest of clarification, I added "Spanish-language" to the description of Estudiln.net; in the interest of nuance (and in consultation with a Spanish expert), I changed the translation of the "peaceful nature" [of the female bovine] to the "laid-back attitude." Even funnier!


Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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