There are lots of things I admire and love about my other home, Italia. Overall though, the public status of women is not one of them. I haven't yet heard how the voting is going today and tomorrow but I do keep thinking of so many reasons why Silvio Berlusconi does not deservea third term as prime minister. One need go no further than his attitudes and behaviour toward women, as outlined in Stephen Brown's recent Reuters article, "Berlusconi's sexism chafes as Italian vote looms." Chafe indeed. Here's a man in his 70s who always wears a dark wig and has undergone one or more cosmetic surgeries (facelifts) - in his constant attempt to make himself seem "younger" and (in Black American parlance) to pull women. He's married, by the way.
Brown quotes Berlusconi recently on the campaign trail, "The left has no taste, not even when it comes to women. ... As for our (women candidates) being more beautiful, I say that because in parliament they have no competition."
About Berlusconi, Brown writes: "His women supporters laughed when he called them the "menopause section" at a recent rally and urged them to bake cakes for campaigners [i.e., the candidates, who are vastly male]. His long-suffering wife Veronica, 20 years his junior, got her revenge last year by reprimanding him for lechery in an open letter to a left-leaning newspaper. He publicly apologized."
Exactly what type of leadership does someone with such an outlook offer Italy for the 21st century? Do we really want more of the same: the future turning to the past that is doomed to fail? Italy is an incredible society that deserves and needs to create a new national script; a switch from the 'national political theatre' of the past now grown very, very stale.
Two days after the Brown article, Deepa Babington's came out in Reuters, "Italian women fight to break political barriers." She quotes candidate Marianna Madia ("adopted" daughter of Berlusconi's Democratic Party rival and former mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni). Madia is "a 27-year old economist running for the rival Democratic Party in the parliamentary election": "Every now and then, I sometimes feel we in Italy live in pre-historic times."
The article cites the Inter-Parliamentary Union ranking Italia 67th in the world for the number of women elected to parliament. Italy can do better.