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Berlusconi And Feminism: Do Italian Woman Need To Defend Their Dignity?

As women take to the streets of Italy to defend their dignity in the face of a series of Silvio Berlusconi sex scandals, one Italian woman explains why she wants no part of it.

An anti-Berlusconi rally in Amsterdam in 2009 (Jos van Zetten)
An anti-Berlusconi rally in Amsterdam in 2009 (Jos van Zetten)
Elena Loewenthal

I will not take to the streets Sunday to defend women's dignity – not mine, not any other woman's.

I don't see the point. Even the slogan of the demonstration, "If Not Now, When?" leaves me perplexed. Not because I think it's a desecration – it's the title of Primo Levi's last novel, and before that it was an old rabbinic adage urging responsibility – but because I don't get the connection between this eternal call to commitment and the current female indignation.

Why do women feel a duty to defend their dignity in light of the obscene spectacle filtering through from Silvio Berlusconi's home – or, for that matter, his plane, his bodyguards' cars or his cell phone?

Did men feel a duty to launch a demonstration to defend their dignity? Which, truth be told, seems to be more violated than our own. Did they feel a need to take their distances from that model of masculinity? Did they tell us, in rage, pain and indignation, that not all of them are dirty old men incapable of loving or establishing a sentimental relation? That not all of them need to grope the bodies of dozens of women in order for their own bodies to feel alive? They did not.

Still, if we are talking about dignity, that of men comes out of this way more bruised than women's. After all, in this tale of parties, naked bodies, stupid games and prostitution in exchange for what were hardly small sums of money, the prime minister looks more like a prey than a hunter, more like a victim than a perpetrator. His frailty as a man worries me more than his sexual compulsion.

The fact that Berlusconi doesn't seem to be able to do without showgirls, or without touching them, has the obvious consequence that a good number of girls who are younger than my daughter (while he is old enough to be my father) are provided with his number, threaten him, blackmail him. If this isn't a collapse of one's dignity, I don't know what is.

As far as us we women are concerned, why do we need to prove we are not all like those girls? It seems obvious to me. In fact, it's even nice to think that we are not all the same: old and young, ugly and beautiful, smart and silly. There are scientists, clerks, and whores, too. I don't understand what there is to feel indignant about.

If emancipation has given us our sacrosanct freedom, why are we crying scandal now? "The womb is mine, and I'll manage it" went the old feminist slogan. But dignity is also mine, and I'll manage that, too. And I have no intention of managing somebody else's, at least as long as there is no exploitation, no violence, no abuse. I don't think that is the case here, as it seems to me it's the girls, not Berlusconi, who have the upper hand, as well as their hands in his wallet.

I am indeed worried, but not about the dignity of women. Rather, about the reliability of a man who falls prey to instincts, naivety and blackmails like only very vulnerable individuals can.

That is why I am not participating Sunday in the "If Not Now, When?" demonstration. I don't feel a duty to reiterate, let alone demonstrate, that I'm not like them, that not all women are like them. Not all are, but some are. But I don't feel I can say to any of them that "Enough is Enough!"

Enough of what exactly?

Read the original article in Italian

photo - (Jos van Zetten)

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👋 Konta!*

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[*Papiamento, Dutch Caribbean]

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