Today’s personal observation about the Vigil for the Bulls: I find myself reflecting upon my personal experience as I review news reports from Pamplona, and there seems to be a relationship. I hit a situation that blocked me from observing yesterday (July 11), and the spate of stories about gored runners and matadors in Pamplona and elsewhere around Spain seemed to stop. I was back at it overnight, and now the news is of sexual assaults.
It is unfortunately nothing new that women expect to be groped during the St Fermin festival, and that shameful truth exposes how broken the practice has become. Bulls are and have been celebrated as an expression of masculinity, but that’s been twisted into shameful and heinous acts against the unsuspecting. How can we abuse these symbols of virility and not expect it to have an effect? This can be metaphysical, but it also can be psychological: in the festival atmosphere where one tests one’s mettle against an uber-masculine animal, it might not be such a large step for some men to try expressing their man-selves with their man-bits.
There are no occasions upon which rape, sexual assault, or any sort of non-consensual sexual contact are acceptable. These types of things happen in many other places and many other times, but I am particularly unsurprised that they happen during a festival which abuses the sacred relationship between human and bull. The entire situation is broken, and Poseidon is surely not the only bull god who takes a dim view of the proceedings. I’m looking at you, Dionysos Taurophagos. These depredations are simply another aspect of the festival that I am now being asked to focus on during the vigil: miasmic sexual energies.
I knew this might be difficult, but I didn’t expect it to be filthy.