Tuesday, February 15

Five things Italian Women can do to Demand Dignity

The movement of women at the If not now, then When? rallies by tens of thousands was quite a sight to see.  So, in an effort to contribute my 2cents' worth, I'd like to provide a quick reference guide to demanding dignity (or, guerrilla handbook) for those who don't know what the next steps should be:

1.  Boycott companies that run negative advertising.  With a special shout out to Sisley & Diesel. Point out to your daughters that yes, they’re attracted to those fashions like a moth to a flame, but…Do they really truly want to be seen as being in submissive positions to the guys in their lives?  It’s not fashion.  It’s subjugation.  In America, many families refuse to buy Barbies, in Italy, just do the same.  Burkahs are not the problem; being depicted bare-waisted and laid out while a guy bites your ass or ties you up - is.

I still refuse to eat Grana Padano cheese, after their 1990s ads depicted a 9-month pregnant woman, rubbing her tummy in front of the fire, which on close-up revealed the hot-branding of the cheese right on it.  I still get nauseous every time I think of it.

2.  Write letters & emailsEvery time. Again & again, until they ‘get it’.  Journalists in Italy need to stop writing headlines like, “Killed out of Love” when a control freak psychopath kills his lover, wife or ex.  This isn’t love, believe me.  When the judiciary claims that rape was consensual because she wore jeans, take to the streets, like only a handful of women did at the time. When newscasters put tits&ass front&center, turn the channel – and then tell them why.  Write their advertisers.  One day soon, as ratings drop, they’ll finally get the message.
    I recently came across an atrocious ‘free magazine’ in my area, Domenica, supposedly for women.  With their select pin-up girl on the cover.  Her lips were so deformed, I was glad they said she had her “piedi per terra” because if her feet weren’t firmly on the ground, those oversized lips would have carried her straight up & away.  The all-male staff needs to understand that these un-‘natural beauties’ do not represent us.  Period.  And, seeing these grotesque versions of beauty on the cover, does not entice us to look inside, either.

    3.  Speak out on all fronts at your Company.  If you go into a man’s office, and he has a nude or semi-nude calendar up there, point it out – embarrass him - Even if he’s your boss – and then take it to HR. If women are getting bypassed, not going to meetings, not getting trained...put them on notice.  It might be wise to point out that, Companies with 3 or more women on the Board, outperform the competition 9 to 1. Yes, Nine to One.  To this, I would add that, if women in Europe make up 60% of College Grads, if women graduate with higher honors, and if companies with all male management say that ‘they hire only the best’, someone is lying.

    The Madonna on the Rocks

    At Abruzzo's Grotta del Cavallone, where both men & women work as guides, these posters were at the lift bringing tourists up and down the mountain.  Sorry. I do not want my 6 yr. old nephew to learn that this is normal. It's not. And, no, they do not 'exalt' the 'bellezze delle donne'. It's Pornografia pure & simple. Look it up in the dictionary.

      4.  Stop attending seminars, workshops & conferences that have an all-male lineup.  It’s insulting and disgraceful to see a bunch of stuffed shirts at the table, eye-balling the babes who bring them their coffee.  If your Company is hosting an event, make sure the organizer briefs the speakers that ‘locker room humor’ is not funny.  They can swap stories behind the scenes.  There will be women executives in the audience, and we’re not interested in hearing demeaning comments about your wife or lover. Grazie.
        Every year I’m invited to La Società del Marketing presentation. And every year, they bring in the top guys in marketing.  And every year, I remind them that the greatest marketeers in history probably have a combined income greater than 167 countries on the planet earth:  J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Oprah Winfrey & Martha Stewart.  Add to this, Esteè Lauder & Anita Roddick, and heck, even the Fendi sisters, and you start to wonder what any men are doing up at that table.  I won’t attend until I do see some breasts up there, and hopefully, not those shown by the Pirelli calendar guy like last time.  You can read my blog entry on the whole episode here. 

        5.  Refuse to pay the bolletta RAI – insipid TV Tax.  If women make up 51% of the population, if they outlive the men by 9 years, if they’re responsible for household purchase decisions, if many are in the home watching the tube, then, why aren’t we voting with our wallets?  Hit them where it counts.
        If enough of us resist, perhaps we can even topple the out of touch octogenarians at the helm of the RAI.  As for me? I don’t even own a TV anymore.

          And…a final word for the men out there, and I paraphrase Sociologist Michael Kimmel from the Women’s Int’l Networking Conference
          Women who work outside the home are happier, they’re better role models for their kids, they (ideally) have husbands who share responsibilities (notice that I didn’t say ‘help out’), and…lo and behold!  When they feel confident, and not frustrated nor depressed (even though working in a ‘man’s world’ might make you so) they will see their partner in a better light and want to share in those good feelings.  If you’re satisfied at work, you’ll be able to satisfy in the bedroom, and if you have a supportive husband at home, you’ll have more time for sex.  So guys, in the end, if you let women work, give them gratifying careers, help them out at home, you’ll get more sex.  The choice is yours.  
          But if not now, then when?


          Deirdré Straughan said...

          Seems as if nothing ever changes in Italy, except perhaps for the worse... http://www.beginningwithi.com/comments/2007/06/19/pandecena-milano-june-07-in-which-a-cunning-plot-is-hatched/

          Dave514 said...

          Hey! Il Duce is going to be tried by three Women Judges. That ought to make you happy!

          KristinWIN said...

          will reference your article in our next newsletter - Brilliant


          KristinWIN said...

          will reference your article in our next newsletter. Brilliant


          RetakeRome said...

          Thanks Francesca for this...your voice is, as always, clear, strong and right on point.

          HarmCo said...

          Here; here. Me likey.

          Michele Connors said...

          Congrats on a great article, you have a gift for writing. If Italians took a little more into their own hands instead of saying "non si puo' fare niente, l'Italia e' cosi'..." a lot more would change around here.

          Anonymous said...

          Now and NOW!

          Anonymous said...

          I continue to love your postings, had to write to you about all this talk, "finally" about how women are portrayed in this country making the headlines. But....I have to say, and you need to mention this in your essays, that the women in this country, first need to change their ways.
          Stop dressing like call girls in the office, having their (enhanced) breasts hang out of their suits on the evening news, (i.e. Lily Gruber), wearing mini skirts & stiletto heels to business meetings...teachers, real estate people, doctors, etc.
          Men are attracted to women (it's nature), and when a woman walks into the office looking like she should be walking into a night club, this just gives these men reason to not to look at them professionally.
          Would we want to see men dressing like chipendales in the office or on the evening news??
          In America, we are years ahead of sexual discrimination & sexual harrassment in the professional realm, that when I came to Italy 15 years ago, I was shocked how behind the Italians were in this respect. I worked as a manager for 7 years in one of Bostons top law firms, so you can imagine how conscious we were about the law. Men had to be careful about even giving a compliment to a women, it was way out of hand.
          Although, I have to say, the men (Italian Man) in this country are very chivalrous and still are, something that men have completely lost in America and is almost non existent...something that I admire and appreciate as a women.

          My Italian husband, while studying in the USA at MIT, would often hold the door for a female student, or wait until they got off the elevator first, and often he got dirty looks from female students.

          So, my point being, is that women need to start covering it up more, not to the point of looking like a pilgrim, but, enough to be less of an attraction, and they would demand the respect they are looking for.

          Another point is, there are many very happy Moms, educated & former professionals, who have chosen to stay home and raise their families(because that is what is best for the family) who are very happy doing so....we need to applaud them and not put them into the category of "desperate housewives"...who have nothing to do but housework and be depressed, wishing they could be in the office.
          There are so many lonely, unguided kids around today, out on the streets, who have nobody watching them, other than a cellphone/ computer to keep in contact with parents. It's very sad what is happening to this generation....the break up of families....more and more divorce. We need to encourage more women/Moms to do the same because in the end, our kids will pay the price. We are losing the "family", the fabric of Italian/ American society. A Mom who chooses to stay home to raise her children has made is an unselfish choice, and this needs to be admired in today's society, rather than demeaned.
          Anyway, just a few points I had on my mind.

          Irreverent Italy said...

          Thanks for all your considerations...Below, a few of my thoughts - and of course, I agree w/you on many points...

          Anyway, I didn't know how to handle the stay-at-home moms...because, I truly truly believe that they do the most impt job on God's green earth, followed closely by teachers. Having said that, I'm sure you & almost every other American/Brit friend in Italy doesn't raise their kids like the Italian mammas. My sister is a lawyer w/4kids, stay-at-home. But I think the mamma italiana is the worst plague on society, other than keeping those fine traditions you mention. They have coddled their kids to complete inertia.
          And, until the husbands learn to 'help out' in the home, their lot will not improve. Women do not need to change. The men do.

          So, for the benefit of my argument, I chose to focus on the working women. Once we get into office, we can work on pay programs for moms -- I have long-believed that, until housewives worldwide draw a salary (from hubby's paychecks) & soc secy for their work, they will never be fully appreciated.