Two of Sr Zapatero’s “ladies” seemed intent last week on reinforcing the old machisto idea that women are not supportive of their own sex. Equality Minister Bibiana Aido had complained that Moslem men can walk around in Western clothes but expect their women to keep their heads and bodies well covered. She said she respected all cultural traditions, except those that promoted inequality between the sexes or discrimination. She also mentioned the Mayans in Central America, where the women are expected to wear cumbersome traditional dress to maintain their cultural tradition. Deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega replied that the government “respected traditions when these respected the law”. She said Sra Aido’s remarks had “introduced an important debate on national identities and cultural differences” but stressed that it was important to be “extremely respectful of each country’s habits and cultures, as long as such cultural traditions do not attack freedom”. Sra Aido did not comment on her lesson in political correctness.


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