Today I'm writing about something different than usual.
I'm not really in the mood for talking about clothes, for several reasons, so I thought I might share something that's been really bothering me these days: I hope you won't mind if I'll leave clothes aside for once and free some space for some feminist talk.
I know my readers are intelligent young women who take concern over gender equality, so I'd like to share my thoughts about something that recently happened in my country.
So, there a preface to be made: Italy's having elections. I'm not going to talk about this specifically 'cause the whole thing is starting to really get to my nerves, and I can't stand to see those faces on tv anymore, let alone talking about them. Oh, and then we have the Pope's side adventure, you know - for those who don't know: he resigned, so there's another election in the Vatican.
There are the elections, and the candidates are campaigning. So it happened that Silvio Berlusconi (I guess I don't have to explain who he is, and I don't mean it in a good way) was making a speech in a firm of a friend of his, and he called a woman on the stage to talk to her.
I don't know exactly what they were talking about, but at a certain point, here's what he said to her (you can see the video here, since it's in italian I'll give you a translation):
"I beg your pardon, but I haven't really gotten one thing; do you come? Do you come?"
"But uhm, excuse me: just once?"
"No, there are two plants!"
"How many times do you come?"
"Ok, so, we can put two plants and the leds, and a visit for each time, and we can even put the electric bycicle."
"So, how many times?"
"Three, four, five, depends on what's demanded."
"How much time between each time?"
"You should ask our technicians."
"Ok, well, it seems to me like a favorable offer."
"Great! We're glad of it."
"Will you turn around one more time?"
(I don't know if I was able to render the sexual subtexts, but his lines were FULL of them.)
As you can see from the video, the crowd laughed out loud and applauded him the whole time.
Awful, huh? This is beyond awful. And the worst thing about it is that this kind of sexism is perpetrated by a political candidate who should be a role model for his country. But I guess we deserve him for having voted for him in the past: the U.S. have President Obama, we have this crazy, sexist, racist, old douchebag.
Well, actually, maybe the worst thing is that people laughed and clapped, so it means that this old jerk represents the view of italian citizens (which is true, this country is sexist as hell).
But actually no, these weren't the worst things in this story, as awful as they can be. You know what happened next?
Italian press, and a lot of italian people, commented the news by blaming the woman. The victim of the harassment.
Why? Because she didn't respond properly.
This is the apotheosis of victim blaming, I mean, people, seriously. A political candidate makes sexist jokes about a woman, humiliating her in front of a crowd, knowing that she can't fight back 'cause she might lose her job, the people there pander him, and the blame is hers...?
Because she should have fought! Because she could at least not have smiled! Because she laughed in a silly way! Because it's because of women like her if men don't respect us! Because she sold her dignity in exchange for money! Guys, seriously, I'll stop now because I'm burning with rage. And I read these comments in feminist facebook groups. I don't even dare to read what people commented elsewhere. I might burst into tears.
Yeah, we're all so fucking brave behind a computer screen, aren't we? It's not like we paralyze when they harass us on the street and we don't know what to answer because we're so fucking humiliated and shocked by the fact that someone doesn't even think they owe us the least respect. No, we are cool, strong women! We don't care if every time we fight back instead of smiling we get thousands of "hey, why are you getting angry now, gawd, what's wrong with you, are you on your period? Jeez", because you should not only take sexist jokes but you should also laugh about them 'cause if you don't you are a rad fem with no sense of humour who hates men.
I mean, I've been a feminist for a long time, I've learnt to fight back when I'm a victim of sexism and I've dealt with the fact that I'll be forever the pain in the ass who can't take an innocent joke, and still sometimes I'm tempted to just smile and stay silent 'cause I don't want to raise the usual mess for once. And, I repeat, I'm a trained feminist who is considered to be brave. What if this woman wasn't, and didn't know what to do? We, as women, should be kind, and nice, and take every kind of joke 'cause hey, they're only jokes: imagine if she screamed "FUCK YOU, YOU PIECE OF SHIT" and stormed off in rage. Imagine what kind of treatment she would have received.
And by the way, for god's sake, she could have lost her job! She was just an employee and her boss was a friend of Berlusconi's, you can bet she would have lost her job. You know what someone answered to that? That I was being sexist because I was making it all about that woman-in-career crap.
... what. The. Actual. Fuck? No, seriously dude, what the fuck are you talking about. Let's leave the sexism in saying "woman in career" aside for a moment and let's focus on how he's trying to make me look like the sexist one there. This is vicious, guys. And I'm disgusted.
And they went on and on and on with women who have no self respect and on how it was all her fault and I literally saw NO comment about how horrible Berlusconi had been and most of all about the jerks that laughed. Not a single one. There were even some conspiracists who said it was just a little show they had prepared together, so she was an accomplice.
Next day, an answer to our doubts came from the firm, and turns out she wasn't offended, but flattered. A shower of "I TOLD YOU SO" came from the sexists.
Yea, too bad some hours later she declared that the previous declaration was totally fake and that she hadn't felt flattered at all; if anything, she had felt uncomfortable and embarrassed.
... and still they went on saying that these women sell their dignities just in order to not displease their boss, and that at least she shouldn't have smiled, 'cause you know, it never happens to these people to laugh when they're embarrassed or nervous. And one more time, they're telling women how they should behave and how they're just whores without dignity for not having behaved as they were expected to.
And that word. Dignity. I'm so sick and tired of people telling women that they should have more dignity. It's about time they shove that fucking word up their asses, 'cause I'm tired, I really can't take any more guys telling me and any other women what dignity is and what I should do because if I don't do so then I don't have any dignity.
So please tell me why dignity (or lack of) is never associated with men. Why are we always the one who are required to have "dignity", to respond properly because it's wrong to be silent even if you're shocked and embarrassed, to not scream and insult because it's wrong to be rude, to not go to bed with several partners because that's slutty, to not show our cleavage or our legs because otherwise we are looking for it and lack of dignity.
This has to STOP.
And if you think this is the end of it, hear the news: this woman's boss commented her last statements with "this is going to have consequences".
Do you think that shoving this in the sexists' faces finally made them shut up? No sir. She should have fought. She is no good example. It's all fault of women like her if. She could at least have.
And not a word on that crazy pig we have as a possible premier. 'cause that how he is, you know. This is the usual stuff.
Usual stuff MY ASS. I'm sick and tired of this man and of the culture of sexism he nurtured throughout his whole government, I can't stand it anymore. So he can be forgiven 'cause that's the way he is, but she can't because she's not giving a good example.
That's when I'm really glad I'm behind a screen because they could get me to murder them. Cold-bloodedly and without regrets.
And since this post is already quite long I'll spare you the debate over the sexist joke a comedian made some days ago on a female politician during a tv program, with the complicity of the host, or the incidence of the f word in this entry would probably get out of control.
I mean, I'm not one of those xenophile pseudo-intellectuals who worry about what the neighbour might say ("Omg, I bet the French/Germans/English/Americans are so laughing about us now" I really hope they don't, since it's the old jerk they should be laughing about, not me) and I don't consider myself responsible for what he says: he's not representative of the whole country's views, please remember that. But lately I found out he does reflect the view of most of italian citizens, and that's sad.
And please don't take this as a "hey, I'm a special unicorn, I'm one of the few clever people in this ocean of italian idiots" 'cause this is an attitude I really hate. In fact, I've always hoped I wasn't a special unicorn and I've always had faith in my fellow citizens, because I couldn't believe there were so many of them (them: sexist homophobic racist scumbags) and so few of us (normal, decent people).
I don't know, I'm disheartened, really.
Please tell me that things are different abroad, because I need a place to run away to when I reach the limit here. And trust me, that moment's getting close.