Want to know why you are sitting on your 'fortune'? Then I will share with you a little bit of what has been published, just two days ago, on Italy's major newspaper, the Corriere della Sera. I'm an Italian girl and I happen to find the article quite sexist...maybe you can tell me what you think!
Mr Piero Ostellino wrote an editorial about the Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, and his most recent prosecution. A brief overview: Berlusconi is accused of having paid a significant number of women to have sex with him at parties in his villa. He also allegedly provided apartments for the women in return for sex, and last but not least, he’s accused of having paid for sex with one of his guests, Karima, when she was 17 (he has also pressured the police to free her from custody when she has been arrested on suspicion of theft). Last year, when criticized for his involvement with underage Karima, Berlusconi declared: "It's better to be passionate about beautiful girls than be gay."
It’s a long introduction, but I wanted to give some background. You can read more here. But now back to the editorial. Piero Ostellino, the journalist, wrote:
"A woman, who is conscious of sitting on her fortune and gives it - so to speak - to those who could help her realize this fortune, is not automatically a prostitute. The world is full of girls who sleep with their professor to have better grades, or with their boss to improve their career. Turning the girls who hang out in Berlusconi's villa into prostitutes - after tapping their phone lines and searching their homes - wasn't just a judicial process, but also a violation of the dignity of women, whose only fault was perhaps to use their body."
(original article here in Italian) Some people wrote to Corriere della Sera to criticize this excerpt from the editorial, though some also wrote to compliment the journalist, including a nun!
A reader, Giulia, furious for the degrading image of women portrayed in this editorial, wrote: “Mr Ostellino, I’m sorry to say this, but if I’m sitting on my fortune, you are certainly sitting on your brain.”
So yes, we’re sitting on a fortune. At least according to this journalist, who perhaps forgets that in Italy 55% of women aged 15-59 years have been victims of sexual harassment on at least one occasion. Does he also forgets that 11.8% of cases of violence (including attempted violence), and 12.1% of harassment cases occurred in the workplace? You can find more info about this here.
The journalist claims to defend the dignity of women. What I also find annoying is that to him a prostitute equals a bad thing. To him it's a bad word, an insult. But sleeping with professors and your boss for better grades or a promotion equals smart move! Or a realization of your ‘fortune’.
Yesterday Ostellino replied to his critics, among them many journalists from Corriere della Sera. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote. I apologize in advance for his convoluted writing…I tried to translate as best as I could.
In his reply he states that Italians dream of a world where "women (some women) don't give it away to pursue a collective Ethics - obviously 'shared' - and everybody live happy, satisfied and virtuous. But alas, it's not like this. I only wrote that a woman is free to use her body as she thinks it is better - "the uterus is mine and I manage it", the old and legitimate feminist slogan that we forget now just because the Caimano [Berlusconi] is the one who is partaking - and [such woman] should only answer to her own conscience, without being called a whore. Mine was just a liberal principle, not an invitation to give it away.”
What do you think? In his reply he de-contextualize an old Italian feminist pro-abortion slogan (l'utero è mio e lo gestisco io = the uterus is mine and I manage it), to say that women who want to ‘give it away’ are just smart. But wait, I thought that with his elegant metaphor of women ‘sitting on their fortune’ he meant that we could 'give away' our ass/vagina/probably both…now is the uterus? Are we talking about abortion now? I’m lost.
It’s true that in my country people don’t live ‘happy, satisfied and virtuous’. In Italy a staggering 48.9% of women don't work, according to a very recent survey (data Istat http://noi-italia.istat.it/). Our current Equal Opportunities minister, Mara Carfagna, is a former show-girl and topless model who was appointed by Berlusconi in 2008. She became number one in Maxim’s world hottest politicians! Yeah. Beating Sarah Palin who’s number two.
I have to close this post on an ever sadder note. On Il Fatto Quotidiano, another Italian newspaper on the other side of the political spectrum (the left) a woman journalist, Caterina Soffici, also commented on the women who allegedly had sex with the Prime Minister for money. “ They are just the worst part of society, we can’t feel pity for them, but only rage and disgust, with their little orphan girl stories, and with their difficult childhood of absent fathers and rapist uncles.” The ‘rapist uncles’ and ‘absent fathers’ comment refers to what Karima just declared on TV. She said her uncles raped her when she was nine. Whatever the truth is, I wish the Italian media weren’t so polarized and irrational in their talk about women, as they are now. Because in both articles I see a lot of resentment and rage, but nothing that resembles a smart and constructive analysis of a very serious situation that goes way beyond the walls of Berlusconi’s villa.