Italian Feminists Outraged by Berlusconi's Sexist Remark
Nearly 100,000 Italians have signed a petition entitled "Women Offended by the Premier" that went into circulation after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi insulted rival leftist politician Rosy Bindi on live television three weeks ago. Berlusconi told Bindi that she was "more beautiful than intelligent," according to BBC News. Bindi replied, "I am not a woman at your disposal.
"We protest against this cretinization of women, democracy and politics," academics Michela Marzano, Nadia Urbinati and writer Barbara Spinelli wrote in the petition. "This man offends women and democracy. Let's stop him." Since the incident, thousands have joined Facebook groups in support of Bindi. Several thousand people have sent their photographs decorated with phrases like "Women offended by a man wearing foundation cream" or "We are not your concubines," to La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper that has been publishing a selection of the submissions daily, reported Reuters.
Bindi has interpreted the current activity against Berlusconi as the emergence of a new feminism in Italy, but the long-term political impact of the remarks is uncertain. Maurizio Pessato of SWG polling told Reuters, "Berlusconi has not changed his approach to women and it's not the first time he has made such comments about women. It's likely that some of the women already against him were spurred into action since the remark was so harsh, but others are used to this. We're in the phase where those supporting him continue to do so, and those against him are markedly so."
Media Resources: BBC News 10/20/09; Reuters 10/20/09