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Thursday, February 15, 2007

The macho ibérico, endangered species

It was inevitable. The slow march of progress - democracy, the euro, Burger King’s XXL hamburgers, the 8x8x8 workday, sin siesta - is feminizing Spain.

The emerging effeminate culture directly challenges the dominion of one of Spain’s most predominant archetypes. Next to el toro, paella, flamenco, playa and sangria, the macho ibérico is one of those indelible symbols marking the Iberian peninsula. Or so we thought.

Dan Bilefsky, writing for the New York Times, has an interesting article about the increasing use of Viagra in Spain. According to sources he cites, this increase is linked to rising male impotency due to stress, which is the direct result of shorter and shorter siestas. According to Pfizer, the masterminds behind the blue pill, 1 million boxes of Viagra were sold last year in Spain alone.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. A couple months ago in Madrid a man held up a pharmacy with two toy guns, demanding all the Viagra they had in stock. Bilfesky tells how the man returned two hours later with a bouquet of roses as a show of gratitude. He was subsequently arrested.

Two hours is probably enough time to pop a couple Viagras and visit a mistress or a puticlub. But the inexplicable, decidedly unmacho act of buying a bouquet of roses for the pharmacy attendants is telling. Even el sexo azul, as Viagra is sometimes called here, can’t save the last of the macho ibéricos.

I made a scientific, multi-axis graph to illustrate this trend:

Here’s some snippets from Bilfesky’s article:

Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, says Spain has moved into the vanguard of a European Viagra trend in part because economic prosperity has transformed the country from a relaxed Mediterranean culture, where the siesta was sacrosanct, into an Anglo-Saxon-style, workaholic nation.

This new stress, said Belén Alguacil Arconada, a Pfizer spokeswoman, is wreaking havoc with the Spanish male’s libido.

“We used to have a siesta, to sleep all afternoon, to eat well,” she said. “But now we have become a fast-food nation where everyone is stressed out, and this is not good for male sexual performance.”


Sociologists say that an increased willingness to address sexual problems reflects Spain’s sexual liberation after the repressiveness of the Franco years. Once one of the most conservative Catholic countries in Europe, Spain is now among the most liberal, with gay marriage, legalized abortion and one of the highest divorce rates on the Continent. The country’s freewheeling party culture also has played a role.

Tell me it ain’t so!

Anda guapa!

Further research brought me to this documentary on the macho ibérico. Sorry, it’s in Spanish without subtitles. But there’s plenty of ass slappin’ to back up the scientific babble. Enjoy.


Despite the demise of this singular Spanish phenomena, there is hope. Coming straight from the mean streets of Barcelona. Larry Kovaks in the Fake Baby Con. Back in full form, it seems, after an inexplicable lapse into cooking. I guess even he is not impervious to the feminizing incursions democracy.