Okay, this is interesting. According to Guardian Unlimited, "a Spanish town council is to fight machismo on the streets by decreeing that half of all road signs and traffic signals show silhouettes with feminine attributes, such as a skirt, ribbon and ponytail, instead of just the striding man."
This is ridiculous. Fighting machismo? This is like mandating the the stick figure in Hangman have a pretty pink bow and high heels. The walking man is androgynous and anonymous. To the right is an actual Spanish walk sign. How do we know that it's not a woman? She could just be flat-chested and a little bulky. I think the ponytail and skirt are more offensive than the innocuous 'striding man'.
I do have to include, however, some good things going on in Spain. According to the same article:
"On taking office, the Socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero,made sure half his cabinet was female and the Socialists pushed through a law last spring giving preferential treatment to firms appointing women to their boards. Last year, the government added a clause to civil marriage contracts that required men and women to share the housework and childcare."
Though it's sad that this level of equality has to be put into a legally binding contract, the US could probably benefit from that kind of attention and care. Obviously, though, that kind of thing can go too far, as is evidenced by the ponytail lady.
Also interesting was the obvious bias in this article. The walking men were described as
boxy male figures" and "those smug little crossing men." Smug? I have never been waiting to walk and thought, "Gee, the profile of that walking man has something haughty about him. He looks a little too pleased with himself. Look at the way his legs stretch like that. And all those lights around his outline? Who does he think he is? Where's my walking girl in a skirt and ponytail? That would be much less offensive."