An audio recording released this week captures Aurelia Vera, a school teacher who is also a socialist city council member in the Canary Islands town of Puerto del Rosario, telling teen students that “boys should be castrated at birth” as part of a thought experiment in which students were asked to envision a matriarchal society.
The recording, published Thursday by Spanish newspaper Okdiario, kicked up a firestorm of backlash that included a denunciation of the educator’s behavior by Francisco Serrano, the anti-feminist leader of Spain’s Vox political party.
Serrano has filed a complaint in the Spanish court system against Vera, claiming he has received numerous messages on Facebook from concerned parents of students in her class.
Vera is a ranking member of the Puerto del Rosario branch of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, according to Okdiario. Multiple outlets reported that she also teaches language at I.E.S. San Diego, a high school in Puerto del Rosario.
According to El Diario, the teacher’s comments came as part of a discussion centered around Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a novel turned Hulu series depicting a dystopian nation called Gilead, in which women are relegated to sexual slavery. Atwood’s work has become increasingly popular among feminists who see in Gilead an accurate reflection of modern day patriarchal society.
El Diario reported that Vera prompted students to imagine a society in which the roles were reversed and women physically subjugated men. This is the alleged context of Vera’s remarks, heard in the Okdiario recording.
“Boys should be castrated at birth, but selectively, to avoid the extinction of the species,” Vera said in response to a student’s question. “We must make men stop governing so they give power to us. Will they voluntarily do it? No. We have to resort to selective castration.”
“If they cut your dicks off, it’s no big deal,” she told male students.
At one point during the debate a student asked, “So, what system do you think is needed?”
Vera responded by saying, “the matriarchy,” a system based on “the power of women.”
The beleaguered educator responded to the controversy in a Thursday interview with El Diario.
“In all these years of pedagogical work I have never heard any complaints from students or their parents. My objective is to awaken the critical senses and I do it by way of provocative texts, which awaken interest,” Vera, who admitted to feeling “overwhelmed” by the public “lynching” she’d received in the wake of the recording’s release, told El Diario.
The Aurelia Vera controversy amid the broader feminist debate
The ongoing culture war over the treatment of women has flared up in recent years.
Feminists, on one side, argue that women still have plenty of battles to fight before the oppressive influence of “the patriarchy” is fully stamped out. They point to issues, such as the recent push to curtail abortion in several southern states, as evidence.
Meanwhile, critics accuse feminists of caving to the most radical adherents to its ideology. In a scathing rebuke of the state of the movement published in National Review in 2014, writer David French argued that contemporary feminism “actually strives to elevate the crazy, the stupid, and the just plain hysterical into the realm of actually relevant cultural and political commentary.”