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April 22, 1997

Feminist Lydia Falcon to Speak in Mobile

Lydia Falcon, Spain's most outspoken feminist, will make a presentation titled "European Feminism Today" on May 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 170, Humanities Building on the University of South Alabama.

Falcon, the founder of the Spanish Feminist Party and a prolific writer in many genres, was born in Madrid in 1935 just before the Civil War began. Her grandmother, mother, and father and aunt were all active voices in the Republican resistance, in the spheres of writing, theater and politics. Falcon began writing articles at the age of twelve. She survived a disastrous first marriage, then studied dramatic arts, journalism and law while writing, translating, proofreading, selling books and holding down other odd jobs to earn a living. In the 1960s she began to emerge as a leading feminist; while defending political prisoners, laborers and abused wives in her law practice, she produced her first groundbreaking works: Los derechos civiles de la mujer (1963; The Civil Rights of Women), Los derechos laborales de la mujer (1964; The Labor Rights of Women) and Mujer y sociedad, Analisis de un fenomeno reaccionario (1969; Women and Society. Analysis of a Reactionary Phenomenon), the last of which appeared after more than a year under government censorship. She was incarcerated twice during the final yeas of Franco's dictatorship -- in 1972 (six months) for publishing and distributing antifascist materials, and in 1974 (nine months) on false accusations of having been involved in several ETA (Basque terrorist organization) assassinations. During the second prison sentence she was beaten and tortured.

Upon her release, and Franco's death shortly thereafter, Falcon continued her activities with renewed intensity. She wrote an expose and a memoir based on her prison experience; a semiautobiographical novel, Es largo esperar callado (1975; The Long Silent); and founded, in 1978, a publication for feminist views -- Vindiccacion Feminsita -- for which she immediately incurred government injunctions. In 1979 Falcon founded both the Vindicacion Feminista publishing house and the Partido Feminista (Feminist Party). In the 1980s Falcon became well known internationally during a series of lecture tours in various countries including the United States; among several awards, she was honored by the Puerto Rican Senate in 1984 for her contributions to feminism and her defense of women against violence. She also became an active playwright, producing a dozen plays including No moleste, calle y pague, senora (1994; "Don't Bother Us, Shut Up and Pay, Lady") and Tu unico amor (1991; "Your Only Love").

Falcon's works are critically admired for their potent social satire, their historical autobiographical base, and their unrelenting emphasis on feminism as a unified and redemptive political philosophy. Falcon's philosophy can be aptly summarized in an expression from her article "Hispanic Women Playwrights": "The future will be feminist or it will not be at all."

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