Tag Archives: Portugal

Blaming the victim? In bullfighting, yes

Juan Jose Padilla (ground) is gored in the face during a bullfight on Friday in Spain.


This weekend’s most disturbing Web video goes to the team of matador Juan Jose Padilla and pissed-off bull “Marques.”

It was day two of the Virgen del Pilar festivities in Zaragoza, Spain when Padilla and “Marques” started their song and dance. It probably looked like every other bullfight: The guy dressed like Liberace twirled, dodged and speared the bull in ways that are supposed to be “artistic” and “innovative.” The bull bled, a lot – which is normal and how things are supposed to go during these torture traps.

But then Padilla tripped. (Artistically, I’m sure.) And then the bull gored him in the face. (Innovatively, I’m sure.) The horn went through Padilla’s jaw and upward toward his eye, forcing his eye to bulge out of its socket. Reports say Padilla went through five hours of reconstructive surgery. He faces a prognosis of blindness in one eye and partial facial paralysis, according to the New York Daily News. (And a splitting headache.)

My thoughts? Don’t play in traffic if you don’t want to get hit by a car.

Padilla, the person

You never want to see people get hurt – the human condition is more protective than it is destructive. There aren’t many details available on the 39-year-old Padilla. But it doesn’t matter if he’s a husband, father or free-fucking bachelor – his quality of life is changed forever. Chances are (I hope) he won’t step into a bullfighting circle competitively again. Depending on his fame, he made a living bullfighting. What will he do now? His handicap will affect his future decisions and opportunities.

Padilla, the victim

However, Padilla made a living torturing animals. Bullfighting is not a prevalent sport around the globe as it’s only a big spectacle steeped in tradition in a few countries – Spain and Portugal remaining in the forefront. When a bullfighter is gored, the reaction, in my experience, seems to something along the lines of, “he deserved it,” and “well, that’s what you get when you mess around with an 1,100-pound beast.”

Padilla can’t possibly be dumb enough to not know what kinds of risks he is assuming with bullfighting. I’m sure he has seen friends and fellow performers sustain injuries, if not the occasional gore. So let’s assume Padilla knew this could happen to him. Does this mean we fault him for what happened?

It’s hard not to. In the bullfighting circle, the matador does nearly everything in the book to anger and agitate the bull: The bright colors, the teasing and the spears in the back of the bull. The bull, in this case “Marques,” was already out of his element. Now he is being subjected to irritants and pain. Those horns aren’t there just for decoration. They’re a defense.

The accumulation of all this leads one to believe that Padilla and other bullfighters do everything other than verbally ask for the bull to kick the living shit out of them.

I sincerely hope the average person can see through the differences with this “blame the victim” thinking than we see with various assaults. Our matador is willingly putting himself in harms way for spectacle. A victim of sexual assault is not the antagonizer. End of story.

Fading tradition

It’s torture. It’s barbaric. It’s dated. It’s one of the cruelest forms of entertainment.

Outside bullfighting countries, this seems to be the majority response. There are movements to eliminate bullfighting, and some of them are taking shape. The number of provinces in Spain that have a high participation in bullfighting has dropped of significantly since the 19th century. (See below)

The most recent ban on bullfighting in Spain came in 2010 from the Catalonia region, making it the first major region in Spain to do so, according to reports from cbc.ca. The debate was focused around the rights of the animal against the preservation of tradition. (Funny that nowhere in there did they mention the safety of the matador.)

(ABOVE) Bullfighting in provinces of Spain in 2010. (BELOW) Bullfighting in provinces of Spain in the 19th century. SOURCE: Wikipedia

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