Today, over 1 million women across Italy banded together in protest of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The nationwide march was spearheaded by women believing that his most recent sex scandal – allegedly involving an under-aged Moroccan prostitute – is not only an embarrassment and affront to Italy, but specifically, to Italian women.
Famous Italian film director, Cristina Comencini, attended one of the largest marches in Rome. In a speech to the crowd, she expressed a belief that apart from the scandal itself, the women with whom Berlusconi chooses to publically associate offend “the dignity of women” everywhere. Comencini alluded to the very obvious fact that these women are “not like the rest of us.” They are often scantily clad and big-breasted, hanging off the prime minister like… hookers.
Ms. Comincini also briefly mentioned women’s status in Italy, claiming that Berlusconi’s overt sexism was not helping them reach the much desired, distant equality.
Italy, like France and many other European countries, is a very male-dominated culture, especially in the south. We all know the cliché of the attractive, sun-kissed Mediterranean men yelling “ciao bella!” after women walking down the street. For American girls especially, this is a funny – if not even welcome – experience… at least for the first few days. However, after a week or two of being incessantly cat-called, it becomes tiresome and you can’t help but feel harassed and objectified.
With the Prime Minister being accused of subjecting a 17-year-old to his advances and then attempting to use his influence to cover his tracks, it is not surprising that a chauvinistic status quo continues to persist in Italy and it’s looking like Italian women have finally had enough. Unfortunately, until Berlusconi’s coalition supporters in government also have decided that they’ve “had enough,” Berlusconi most likely won’t be going anywhere.