SpainExpatBlog: The Spanish are not shy

SpainExpatBlog: Spain and sexuality

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Britt Bohannan discovers that the Spanish (in Barcelona, at least) are not shy about matters of sexuality.

The Spanish in general are not a shy nor modest bunch. Any trip to the beach will make that abundantly clear before you even step foot onto the sand.

This is not merely due to the fact that all beaches are topless (as in the rest of Europe), but also because you’ll see about one in every 20 people lacking any kind of swimsuit whatsoever. Now, some of them will strip down to their tighty whities, bikini briefs, thong underwear, bras – whatever happens to be under the clothes they showed up in – and jump right in the water or laze in the sun, while a smaller number will just get naked. There ARE designated nude beaches, but other beaches generally tolerate nudity, and off-leash dogs, and just about anything else you can think of.

Moving on… Despite being a Catholic country, Spain’s citizens (refreshingly) have little to no interest in upholding any kind of biblical law themselves, much less deciding what anyone else should be doing. There are no zealots here, and people understand that you are what you are – and that is perfectly fine.

Case in point: Gay marriage is legal. In fact, I don’t know that is was ever even debated. Sexual orientation is such a non-issue here, it is hard to explain to a North American how the word “tolerance” isn’t used because it isn’t needed. Imagine this scenario happening in North America: the other day at the beach, I was watching a group of teenagers, I’d say all about 16 years old, interact over the course of a couple of hours. The group was clearly familiar, probably schoolmates, and while at first the girls grouped their towels separately from the boys, within an hour they were all together and a few couples were forming in the group. It was easy to see because public displays of affection are an everyday thing and Spaniards are quite demonstrative. The group of ten young friends continued to enjoy their day as a few of them paired up, and not one of them blinked when two boys in the group paired off and clearly flirted and touched each other. They were a non issue, something that entire country has contact with every day. In my country, there would be staring, whispers, and then probably someone would get beaten up.

Another example of sexuality being a total non-issue. About a month ago in Spanish class, we had an exercise where we read about seven different people and their struggles with learning a foreign language. The profiles included a little history and what they did for a living. When I came to the last profile, Antonio, his profile stated that he was 28 years old and “Amo de casa”. Ama de casa means housewife, so imagine my delight when I thought, good one Spain, I am going to read about this guy who stays home while his wife goes to work! (While openness regarding sex, masturbation and sexual orientation are the norm, Spain has not progressed quite as far with gender equality topics). Anyway, upon further reading, I discover that Antonio met his husband in France. So, yes he is an Amo de Casa – and his husband goes to work.

Finally, let me share with you something that was on Groupon in Spain a few weeks ago:

SpainExpatBlog: The Spanish are not shy

Yes, those are masturbatory eggs. They come in six…flavors, if you will, which, according to the ad, are described as (my translations):

  • Spider: Inhibits you in a web of pleasure, while jumping from thrill to thrill.
  • Wavy: For the quietest moments.
  • Clicker: It will prepared you patiently until it makes you succumb to a torrent of stimulation.
  • Stepper: The one that produces the most intense sensations.
  • Silky: It will envelope you without advance notice.
  • Twister: It’s name says it all: You will feel a tornado!

Imagine this on Groupon in the US! People would have hernias. But Spain is unfazed by anything to do with masturbation or sex and doesn’t hide it. And while my American sensibilities still giggle like a school girl at this entire ad, it is kinda refreshing.


Reprinted with permission of

Britt Bohannan is an American currently living in Spain, the fifth foreign country she has called home. She has spent the last four years in Barcelona working as a freelance editorial and technical writer and for local magazines and businesses and runs

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3 Comments To This Article

  • Joseph posted:

    on 14th July 2016, 07:55:37 - Reply

    I wanted to clarify that all Barcelona beaches are NOT topless in fact there are severe restrictions in place enforcing that, secondly it is unfair of you to refer to spain as a "catholic" country, The church is dominant but it does not play any part in peoples lives. The spanish are incredibly moral people but its learned morality, they are always covered shoulder to knee on the metro and are incredibly naive in certain ways, but religion does not feature except as a point of history. Like most socialist or "catholic" countries as you describe them, it historically followed an interpretation of Biblical Law rather than the letter of the law. I think it is this opinion which has led to some kind of fake quasi morality which people have accepted as the norm. The image of Barcelona being a "free anthying goes" city is only held by tourists, people here are simply not educated in sexual ethics, partly because of the gender machisimo attitudes which even now are still dominant. They have however a basic code of morality within a family and tribal setting. They simply lack the puritanical demonizing views of puritans which sadly we all grew up with in the English world. Sadly though they lack discipline.
  • gabi posted:

    on 10th October 2012, 12:51:54 - Reply

    Great stuff and good job capturing the atmosphere and attitudes toward sex here!
  • Maurice Torian posted:

    on 19th September 2012, 15:21:56 - Reply

    Great article, I love it. I've been living here (Seville) for a couple of years now and you really "hit the nail on the head. :-)