In the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas
What is Bullfighting?
Bullfighting is a long standing tradition in several countries, especially Spain and Mexico. Though there are variations throughout the world, the most famous Spanish bullfight consists of a toreador and his assistants, who gradually weaken the bull with spears until the main toreador kills it with a sword. I've been told that it's a bit more nuanced than that, but effectively, that's the basic idea.
This tradition dates back to the 18th century and earlier, but recent protests have resulted it being banned in a few areas, including Catalonia in Spain. I'd heard of bull fighting before (and found it a distasteful idea), but this past week I was in Madrid and decided to see what it was really about. [This was written in late March, 2012.] You can see my later, more compete analysis of bullfighting here.
My bullfighting experience was not a success. Because my tour guide and many locals recommended it, I decided to take a look before I left Madrid. The hotel had some tickets available so I thought, "What the heck?", picked up the tickets, and headed down to the Plaza de Toros. I had previously heard from American friends that the sport was brutal, and that several couldn't or wouldn't sit through it. Though I kept that in mind, I didn't fully understand what they meant until I was there.
The bullfight I went to was scheduled to involve 6 bulls, so I picked up some snacks and a cushion to sit on (the seats are solid stone). I ended up leaving after the second one was killed, deciding I had things to do besides watching bulls getting slaughtered. Something about the bull, and the spears, and most of all the people shouting in the stands made me feel a bit sick.
Now, personally, I love boxing and wrestling and Kung Fu movies, so I'm not necessarily averse to a fight. Call me old-fashioned, violent, un-evolved or whatever else, but to me there still seems to be honor in a good fight. However, I find bullfighting seriously indefensible for a couple of reasons.
My Gut Reactions and Reasons
The first reason that comes to mind is that it's not mutually agreed to have this fight. In a boxing or wrestling match, the two opponents agree to fight, something they have the right to do. In bullfighting, the bull is forced into the arena, without provocation or giving its consent (shocker).
I'm not equating a bull's life to a human's. I'm not vegetarian, and I enjoy my bacon as much as most other Americans do. [This was written before I went vegan. Another story.] But the power human beings have over the planet also translates into responsibility towards the Earth and those under our control, like domesticated animals. Torturing for amusement, even an animal, seems like serious abuse of the power we have.
Which brings me to my second point: the bull has no chance of winning. It's several men with weapons and horses versus one bull, and almost without exception this "fight" is just a spectacle death. What can the bull do? Even if he manages to gore a toreador, it will still result in his death. If there was a time limit or an all-out no maiming policy, I'd find bullfighting easier to stomach, but because of the bull's inevitable death, bullfighting feels like only torture and execution for the amusement of the crowd. Lame. Terrible. I think it's about time the human race evolve beyond that.
But, of course, the individual conscience is the judge. This was far more of a quick rant than an unbiased examination. I do know that there are more complex arguments on both sides. [I tried to address in my later hub Summary of views on bullfighting- including mine.] Please feel free to post your views on bullfighting in the comments.
New Opinion Poll
Sanxuary on March 26, 2017:
Why can people never have fun? We eat hamburgers every day atleast give the bull a chance. Oddly bull fighting ranks just above NASCAR and right below Golf for me. I live in America and the last time I looked I could not find bull fighting on ESPN. So I think you have to go to Spain and convince those people. Maybe if they had bull fighting in Iraq they would stop killing one another. I have bigger issues then bull fighting to beat up. Have you seen are country lately? Apparently the Russians have taken over, we are 20 trillion dollars in debt, we have no idea who is in charge of anything and if any of these departments exist and its popular to be a racist again. I think going back to bed for the next 4 years would do me some good, can you wake me up later?
Bob Zermop (author) from California, USA on April 21, 2014:
Thanks for stopping by, Mimi.
Mimi on February 25, 2014:
You People Jeovah God hates what you are doing ;-( Any Person or Man who do this too inasent Anumals of God will not see a long life!
Bob Zermop (author) from California, USA on May 21, 2012:
I roughly agree with you, American Romance, though I think sometimes there is a duty to help others, maybe by taking away some of the freedom of the antagonist. Thanks for your comment.
American Romance from America on May 21, 2012:
Interesting that a liberal like Josak would defend animal brutality. My view is bull fighting is wrong. But I would never take away traditions or culture from another that doesn't infringe on my freedoms. I believe cockfighting is an art form and I have enjoyed the gallant cock fights back when it was legal. I no longer would go to a cock fight and I love animals. But taking freedoms away from others is wrong. We cannot rule on our personal opinions unless as I said those freedoms are infringing on ours.
Bob Zermop (author) from California, USA on April 24, 2012:
Thank you for your comment, mighty mom.
Susan Reid from Where Left is Right, CA on April 24, 2012:
I guess you can't call bullfighting a "bloodsport" per se and it does have cultural pageantry and history associated with it. Not my thing. But then, I don't like boxing, either -- although I did like your point that at least that's consentual.
Well done hub. Keep them coming! MM
Bob Zermop (author) from California, USA on April 22, 2012:
just published a more comprehensive hub on my complete view of bullfighting.
Mrs L A Gibb on April 06, 2012:
I look forward to it
Bob Zermop (author) from California, USA on April 05, 2012:
Thank you for your comment, mrslagibb. I also very much agree that tortuing/abusing animals should not be allowed. Right now I'm still abroad, but I hope once I return home I can write a more in-depth and researched hub on bullfighting.
Mrs L A Gibb on April 04, 2012:
I know nothing about bullfighting, only what I have seen in documentaries on the T.V. Nothing like, you have described in depth here Bob, a very well educated piece of writing for a person who has just seen one fight who wants to find out more. However, abusing and torturing an animal I disagree with. There should be some kind of limitation in place to prevent this. I will be interested in what else you may find out.
Bob Zermop (author) from California, USA on April 04, 2012:
Thank you for showing the positive view of bullfighting. I can see the romance in the sport, but personally find it distasteful.
Josak from variable on April 04, 2012:
Regardless I guess a lot of it depends on how you see the sport, I personally see it as breathtakingly elegant, I don't know how good the fight you saw was but I saw El Cordobes fight, he would stand with his back to the bull and salute the crowd as the bull charged, just when it seemed inevitable he would be gored he would spin or jump or even fall flat and somehow the bull would go right past it was quite amazing. Also scenes like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Goya_Tauromachia...
It may also be worth noting that the bulls are raised only for combat, if they were not raised for this purpose they would probably be raised in pens for food instead fighting bulls are raised in the open and treated like royalty and live much longer than Steers and while their death may be more drawn out from what I have seen from visiting a slaughterhouse the deaths there are far from pleasant.
Bob Zermop (author) from California, USA on April 04, 2012:
I have only been to one bullfight, but I'm told by the locals that it is done in the common Spanish way, and it involved the bull dying. I don't know how the bull could win (by killing the toreador?) but even so I believe it is put to death afterwards.
I don't have any sources to cite right now, except my limited first-person Spanish, so once I get back from this trip i will do more legit research and post the links.
Josak from variable on April 03, 2012:
I can not attest to Mexican bullfighting I am told things work differently there but in Spanish bullfighting if the Bull wins he is never killed but instead healed and brought back to health different regions have different rules but most say that if a bull fights sucesfully three times then he can never fight again and must be put to pasture and given a good life however most bulls are only fought once and then put back to pasture they will only fight three times if they have exceptional ability, exceptions I guess do occur if the bull is very badly injured and may then be put down to spare it suffering. It is also worth nothing that the spears and horse riders are mainly to aggravate the bull further not to weaken it, the bullfighter should weaken it by tiring it.
Bob Zermop (author) from California, USA on April 03, 2012:
Thank you for your comment. I've only been to one bullfight, and it's very true that as an American and one-timer I don't have the same appreciation for the culture or the nuances of the fight. As far as I'm aware, if the bullfighter is injured the bull is spared in the ring, but he is killed afterwards. Not completely certain; do you know if that's true? If it is, my argument still stands.
I find bullfighting distasteful because of the life it takes, but I'm not very involved in protesting it directly because of its economic benefits. With the current economic situation, I think it's very bad timing to change this money-raiser. Bit heartless, but i think these bulls are worth the sacrifice for some jobs.I hope however once this that ebbs we can divert the time and energy spent on bullfighting to something more worthy.
Josak from variable on April 03, 2012:
It is clear that you don't know how the fight works. #1 if the bullfighter is killed or wounded too severely to continue the Bull is spared I don't have any statistics for the regularity of bullfighter losses but I have seen 3 in the 11 fights I have seen (at two events), If the bull fights well but is still beaten by a good toreador then the fate of the bull will be decided by public acclaim, if the bull is found to have fought well he will be spared (it is the same as gladiatorial combat). Furthermore the bull is if killed, used well used and not wasted. The industry also contributes significantly economically and employs hundreds of thousands of people, I am no huge fan but I would not want to see it entirely banned, both for the cultural value it has in Spanish tradition as well as the economic benefits it renders in these tough economic times. Having said that I thought your hub was very well written and posed a relatively fair assessment of the opposing view.