The first gender balanced pedestrian crossings were installed on Monday in the bustling Carrer Xátiva opposite the bullring in the eastern city but many dismissed them as patronizing.
— levante-emv.com (@levante_emv) March 7, 2016
“It is a symbolic message launched from the street,” city councillor Guiseppe Grezzi told Spain’s El Mundo newspaper of the measure.
The new symbols will be installed at twenty pedestrian crossings across Spain’s third largest city as part of a first phase, and will then be used to replace worn out lights to keep the cost to a minimum in the cash-strapped municipality.
The measure has been introduced in time to mark International Women’s Day by the new left wing city council led by mayor Joan Ribó of Compromís, a regionalist party backed by Podemos.
“We are going to incorporate the female symbols as and when the older lights become defective,” explained Grezzi, a councillor from the traffic department.
But there has already been a backlash against the new symbols, with some slamming the addition of skirted stick figures as 'patronizing'.
Llevar pantalón es una conquista de las mujeres. Pero ahora le ponemos falda a los semáforos de Valencia para 'feminizarlos'
— Lourdes Pérez (@LourdesPerez_DV) March 7, 2016
“Dressing in trousers was a triumph for women. But now we are putting a skirt on the traffic lights in Valencia to feminize them,” one Twitter user complained.
“I really don’t think anyone was offended by the use of a male silhouette to represent a pedestrian,” insisted Alberto Mendoza, a city councillor from the conservative Popular Party. “There are more important things to worry about.”
It is not the first time a city has opted to use female silhouettes in an attempt at gender equality. The city of A Coruña in the northwestern region of Galicia was the first in Spain to introduce a quota of female signs at pedestrian crossings.
In Sweden, a similar attempt at equality left officials redfaced after complaints that the silhouettes of women had breasts that were “too perky”.