El Real de San Vicente, a village in the north-east of Toledo province with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, won't have as many women residents as usual in January. The reason is that a reality TV show has decided to see how their male partners will manage at home without them.
The Big Bang Media production company announced that it was going to choose 50 local ladies to spend an all-expenses-paid week in a spa hotel, on their own. Meanwhile, their husbands and partners will have to take on the everyday tasks which the women usually do. The programme will be shown on TVE in January, and there has been a varied response to the idea.
The mayor of the village, Jorge Luis Martín, says he was very surprised. "At first we thought it was a joke, but then we realised they were serious," he explains. His wife was one of the first to sign up. In fact, when women of all ages were asked to apply, there was an immediate response.
Jorge Luis is pleased that the programme will be publicity for the village, which is situated in beautiful countryside in the Sierra de San Vicente mountains. In the past few decades it has suffered the effects of depopulation and the progressive ageing of the residents.
The Castilla-La Mancha Institute for Women, far from criticising this type of programme for perpetuating the stereotyped image of women as housewives, is all for it. The director, Araceli Martínez, says women carry out numerous tasks at home and looking after their families and elderly relatives with no support, but their work is not valued and its impact on the economy is ignored. She sees this reality show as a good opportunity for people to appreciate "what happens in homes when women are not there and are not carrying out these tasks which are so essential for all the family".
No idea how the hob works
Housewives are a "precarious social class because their contribution to society is not appreciated," says Araceli, for whom this programme "is like a reminder of the 1970s feminist strike in Finland, which inspired the one which took place here in Spain on 8 March".
While waiting for the programme to be filmed and then broadcast, it seems that for some of the men in El Real de San Vicente the week without their wives or partners is going to seem very long, those who have no idea how the ceramic hob works and think the vacuum cleaner is something out of science fiction. Others, though, are more confident and say they will manage, and some are even suggesting that this will be a "week of freedom", during which nobody will complain about the amount of time they spend in the bar, or sat in front of the television watching football.