Although Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi may have a lot of women sharing his bed, le donne italiane are not his biggest fans.
In recent weeks, Berlusconi has garnered significant worldwide attention for his involvement with a eighteen year old dancer named Ruby. Caught in the act once again, the prime minister’s relationship with the woman is yet another misstep in his growing list of controversy. Although his political leadership and character certainly garners attention, his arrogant and derogatory opinions about women have amassed equal, if not more, worldwide scrutiny.
In 2009, for example, Berlusconi suggested that the increasing incidents of rape in Italy were occurring ” because our women are so beautiful.” Then, in an interview earlier last year, he said that women need not worry about work so long as they choose the right partner. According to him, women should seek out men like himself because “I’m loaded.” In his opinion, marrying rich is the key to a woman’s key to happiness. In light of such comments, it is no wonder then why more and more Italian women are turning their backs towards a prime minister that once garnered a high percentage of female support.
Fed up his slanderous behavior and demeaning attitude, this past weekend Italian women took to the streets to protest against the national prime minister. All throughout Italy, including Rome and Florence, women united in protests against Berlusconi’s inappropriate behavior and leadership. As a symbol of their disapproval about Italy’s demeaning culture against women, many of the weekend’s protestors wore white scarves.
Although I signed a contract with Georgetown saying that I would not participate in any strikes while abroad, this was definitely a cause I supported. While I did not actually participate, I demonstrated my support by wearing a white scarf throughout the weekend. My five weeks in Italy have taught me many things so far, but perhaps one of the most significant is how valuable and strong Italian women truly are in the culture. While the stereotype may portray the typical Italian woman as a housewife, many of the country’s women carry on the responsibilities of the home while also working full-time. What makes this even more striking is the fact that a recent study estimated that approximately 90% of adult males, often called mamma’s boys or mammonis, live with their parents, and many of this men are without jobs or a diploma. So while the women are off at work or cooking or cleaning, the men are off doing nothing.
Evidenced by this and Berlusconi’s own comments, the glass ceiling for Italian women certainly has a long way to go before it is shattered. Yet, perhaps this weekend’s protests will bring some much needed attention to the female voice and provoke some type of change.
Please enjoy the links to the articles included in this post. Also, click here to see some pictures from this weekend’s demonstration in Florence.