Feminism in Las chicas del cable

Main characters (from left to right) Marga, Ángeles, Carlota, and Alba

Main characters (from left to right) Marga, Ángeles, Carlota, and Alba

Rachelle Lewis, Staff Writer

Las chicas del cable (Cable Girls) is a Netflix show released on April 28, that delves into the lives of four Spanish women from different backgrounds in the 1920s, all working as switchboard operators for a telephone company in Madrid. Throughout the show the viewer learns about the history of these women and the seemingly minor role they play in the large company, espionage, and feminism movement in Spain. (SPOILERS AHEAD!!)

In the first episode, Alba Romero (later Lidia Aguilar Dávila), the main character and narrator, talks about women in the 1920s. “If you were a woman in 1928, freedom seemed impossible to achieve. To society, we were just housewives and mothers. We didn’t have the right to have dreams or ambitions. To seek a future, many woman had to travel far and wide. And others had to confront the norms of a backward, chauvinist society. In the end, all of us, rich or poor wanted the same thing: to be free.” For the duration of the season, Alba uses her sexuality and larceny to get what she wants in order to be a freer woman, striving for her female friends to keep their jobs even when modern science would eventually replace the operators. She even assists one of her friends, Ángeles Vidal, and helps her get away from her abusive husband, even when the law would be on his side.

Carlota Rodríguez de Senillosa is a woman who strives for independence from her overbearing father and upper class life. Taking on the operator job, she risks losing her old life and family for the sake of being free and having rights, for a “second-class citizen”. She frequents a theater with her girlfriend, Sara Millán, where a group of empowered women hoping to gain more rights as men meet to speak. Her and Sara engage in espionage for the telephone company to obtain information on an upcoming coup. Carlota is not afraid to speak her mind, and is one of the most relevant characters in the fight for women’s rights in Las chicas del cable.

Ángeles Vidal is an upstanding woman in the telephone company where she is forced many times by her unfaithful husband to leave her job, which she loves very much. She suffers at the hands of her husband in a domestic fight later on, which leads to a miscarriage. Gaining the support from her friends, she is convinced to leave her spouse and run away with her young daughter. Unfortunately for Ángeles, it does not work out as well as she thought it would have and the plan to run away backfires on her when her daughter runs towards her dad at the train station. Even though the law and the police force would not do anything to save Ángeles and her child, she and her friends continue to fight for the rights she deserves as a wife.

While María Inmaculada “Marga” Suárez does not play a significant role as a suffragette, she still defies stereotypes when she leaves her village to work in the big city of Madrid. In the beginning she seems like a timid girl, however she manages to transcend that expectation and become a more well-rounded individual, even though she still retains some of her apprehensive traits.

Most men in the series make fun of their campaign and even threaten their lives for it, calling them crazy and blaming them when their wives and girlfriends turn them away. Las chicas del cable is a great show for people who enjoy Spanish period dramas, and witnessing the suffrage movement take place in Spain in the 1920s is a plus.