While in America, the press is hot on the trail for the next big gaffe that naturally falls out of someone’s mouth, sooner or later, considering all the talking one does on the campaign trail, in Italy, slick Berlusconi makes quite a habit of saying what’s truly on his mind when it comes to women in Italy – and he doesn’t consider them gaffes at all.
Berlusconi’s consistent self-portrayal as a ladies’ man – one could say he is the Prime Minister of Latin Loverhood – time and again reveals what he, and I would venture, much of Italy, truly believes about women and their place.
To a young woman complaining about the precariousness of life in Italy for today’s generation, what with little or no income, and an even lesser possibility of obtaining a stable future, he quipped, Marry one of my sons!
He’s consistently against quotas in government, but more than that, he’s consistently against women in government at all:
- there just aren’t that many women who wish to leave the comfort of their home to enter politics
- he actually cited “the right to self-defense” against accepting more women parliamentarians
- to Spain's Zapatero (with 9 cabinet women) he observed, Zapatero has made too pink of a government … we can’t do that in Italy, because men are too prevalent.
- but then, he said women could join Parliament, provided they were molto belle
"a noi le signore, soprattutto belle, in Parlamento ci piacciono molto".
- then again, he seems proud of the right wing women who’ve entered politics citing, Le donne del centrodestra, sono "certamente più belle di quelle del centrosinistra".(Rightwing women are certainly more attractive than the leftwing ones).
- when stumping for a woman in Brescia, he urged "Viviana Beccalossi è più brava che bella. Il contrario di Rosi Bindi" (Beccalossi is more capable than pretty. The opposite of [leftwing] Rosy Bindi [an elderly woman at the forefront of Italian politics, but who is quite unattractive].
He then screamed, "Forza Viviana, show ‘em your stuff!".
But it is to Alessandra Mussolini, obviously a bit too far to the right, that he lets one slip: “Buttala via” or Throw her away.
But Berlusconi, Prime Misogynist doesn’t leave his utterances just to local politics. Internationally, he’s offered quite a few doozies:
- At a meeting of the Food & Agricultural Organization, he extended a particular greeting to the belle delegates.
- In France he declared, “I love France and I continue to love her – just look at all the girlfriends I've had…”
- On Spain’s “pink” cabinet, "Zapatero has put in 9 women? Boy, is he in for trouble…he really asked for it. It’ll really cost him to try and dominate them."
When he won for Italy the Administration of the Parma Ham Authority from Finland, he boasted, that he had to wipe off the dust from his old playboy moves to convince the Finnish President, Tarja Halonen, continuing, “I truly had to court her in order to convince her."
- And, on State visit to Hungary, he advised some journalists to be sure they asked the Prime Minister for “a couple of good addresses”. – and I don’t think he meant restaurants.
Finally, in a political convention for Women in Italy (like an Emily’s List)…he really struggled to make his point: “The meaning of the word 'donna' (woman) derives from the Latin, ‘dominate’." He goes on to flatter, "You’re the masters of your home, we’re the slaves…" and then adding for good measure, “but some of you need to rise to the occasion and start cooking for some of our candidates on the campaign trail wherever the catering companies are lacking”.
And in case you missed it the first time around, he later clarified: “You’re the masters in the home…out of the home…we’ll have to see.”
But, what does one expect from the guy who keeps scantily-clad women on his TV channels 24/7? It’s like having Hugh Hefner in the White House.