Berlusconi Isn’t The Problem – Lack of Self-Respect Is

As an “ironing and cooking” Italian man “who does not ask my partner to make sure the pasta is cooked “al dente” when I get back home from work“, I am puzzled by Chiara Riffa and Rosa Raffaelli’s exhortation for more respect to be accorded to women in Italy (“Enough Machismo Italian Style“, IHT Printed edition, 19 Feb).

Ms Riffa and Ms Raffaelli’s goals are as laudable as daft and nonsensical are the chosen means of changing the status-quo. For example, as enthusiastically “reported” by IHT Rome-based journalists Rachel Donadio and Elisabetta Povoledo, the “women’s dignity” mass demonstrations of 13 Feb were overwhelmingly focused against Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi. That was a sure-fire way to degrade any “demand” to low-level party-political diatribe.

It is also unclear what yet another demonstration achieved, what if anything has changed or is going to change at least in the participants’ lives, and most of all how could a person, even a Prime Minister, affect the “dignity” of a mass of individuals (unless, perhaps, it’s North Korea we’re talking about). Like for everybody else, my “dignity” is all mine, and for me to nurture, not to abandon to the care of however-politically-powerful strangers. Actually, by associating themselves to the controversies regarding Mr Berlusconi, the “women’s dignity” demonstrators might have ultimately shown how low their self-respect is, and how weak their demands, all too easily manipulated for the sake of provoking a change in Government.

I can’t wait for the day when “machismo” will be an obsolete word, in Italy and everywhere else. Tough chance though, unless and until the problem is dealt with in a practical, truly apolitical way capable of positively affecting the day-to-day behaviour of millions of people; and unless and until the educated, cosmopolitan, financially-liberated victims of machismo will (at least!) start self-respecting themselves.