The Right Man is a Woman

22 Oct


Meanwhile, in “the land that feminism forgot,” as The Economist once said about Italy years ago…

Seriously, folks? It says “The Right Man for Rome.”

Ok, so I’m driving today, and I read it and see a glimpse of long blonde hair as I’m driving, and I ask myself, “Did I read that wrong?” because I read “man” and I thought I saw a woman. Was it Vladimir Luxuria (transsexual politician)? No, couldn’t be, I think. He/she has brown hair.

Pass the sign again. Nope, this time I’m sure that’s a woman and … her name is Patrizia Prestipino. Full disclosure: I’ve met La Prestipino. Friend of an ex-friend. Lovely woman. Hard worker. I have nothing against her neither as a woman nor as a politician.

However, I do have a question mark when it comes to the tagline on her poster. Only because I think it really highlights the sexism inherent in a culture where, in order to gain credibility in your public advertising, you have to stand on the merit of presenting yourself as the right “man” for the job. The job being mayor of Rome. It’s a long shot.

Ok, so I’m not the target audience here. I’m not Italian, I’m not even a naturalized Italian citizen, either, because I was and still am too lazy to fill out the paperwork. So really, I suppose my opinion doesn’t much matter.

But, as an observer of local culture and customs, I do have to say that this is a pretty sad example of the ongoing state of things.

Her website states that the campaign is “purposely provocative” and further says:

“Questa campagna è volutamente provocatoria nasce da una consapevolezza: in un momento di grande smarrimento della politica pensiamo che l’uomo giusto per Roma debba essere, prima di tutto, coraggioso, leale e onesto. Quindi, l’uomo giusto per Roma è una donna”.

“…the campaign was born from the knowledge that, in a period in which politics have been misguided, we think that the right man for Rome should be, above all, courageous, loyal, and honest. Therefore, the right man for Rome is a woman.”

Here’s Pier Ferdinano Casini saying that “Rome is ready for a woman mayor,” although not directly connected to this campaign. He says the reason why more women aren’t involved in politics is because there isn’t an adequate social “net” of services to help women who are responsible for managing families and children.

Needless to say, La Prestipino is neither married nor a mother. Not that I care. No one else seems to care much either, given the whopping 117 views on that video. But frankly, if he’s vying for a woman candidate for mayor to prove that Rome is ready for a female mayor who is ALSO managing a family/children at home, that’s not happening here. First woman mayor of Milan was in 2006, Letizia Moratti who was the Minister of Education under Berlusconi from 2001 to 2006. Prestipino is currently a regional assessor for youth, tourism, and sport. I know next to nothing about local politics so I have no idea what her chances are. God bless her for trying, though. She seems to truly care about the state of things and have an honest passion for politics.

I, for one, would love to see more women in local politics who aren’t as loud, crass, and embarrassing as La Polverini. Bleh. But still, it’s a losing battle. La Polverini acted like a beer-belching fat man in a wife beater to get her job done, and ended up resigning in a corruption scandal. Here we have a delightfully feminine and fresh-faced candidate who, however, has to resort to referring to herself as a “man” to make waves and headlines. Sigh. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Oh, and as a totally trival aside: why on God’s Earth do politicians ALWAYS have a jacket hanging over their shoulder? Is this like the universally designated “politican pose”?

Oh well. At least she’s not nekkid like the rest of them.


10 Responses to “The Right Man is a Woman”

  1. Gil October 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Anything to get votes!

  2. Rita October 22, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Is the jacket over the shoulder supposed to say that they’re ready to get in there & get serious when they need to?

  3. Michconnors October 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    The hardest thing for me to deal with when I worked at an Italian company from ’06-’07 and was the only foreigner there was witnessing all of the Italian women who did not know how to handle a management position. There were women that either tried to act as manly as possible, or women that came to work in belly button bearing shirts and stiletto knee-high boots and tried to capitalize on their sexuality as much as possible. Those were pretty much the only two options for them as they saw it. It was just so sad and difficult to watch. And endlessly frustrating trying to deal with the office politics feeling like I was going back in time about 50 years. Seems like a lot of Italian women think that in order to get respect they have to put themselves in masculine terms.

  4. Catherine October 23, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Wish I was in a position to become a naturalized Italian citizen. I’m so jealous.

  5. rickzullo October 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    I guess I’ve been living in Rome for too long because this sort of thing no longer surprises me. I’ve given into the notion that no matter how long I stay here–even though I’m married to an Italian, I speak Italian, and I eat Italian food–I’ll never be able to think like an Italian. Which has both positive and negative connotations, in my opinion. I’m just as often frustrated at my inability to stop thinking like an American. (Great blog, by the way!)

  6. Liz Knight October 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Really disturbing. I can’t stand this. Like Rick (above), I will never get used to this kind of thing – but why should we? I’m not going to get used to people stealing my scooter parts either, even though Italians just shrug and laugh at me for being so shocked. Some things are just either right or wrong. This campaign is wrong. Great post!!

  7. Sarah May (@AntiquaTours) October 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Please bleach my eyes. Please.

    In other news, I like her. She is a well known animal activist and is 100% behind the ban of carriages in Rome.

  8. Zanne October 26, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    I’d be curious to know if any of the feminist-oriented press/journalists, intellectuals etc. have picked up on this and commented. Do you know? Great post 🙂

  9. Catherine November 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    On a similar note – Did anyone see the Australian female PM’s furious speech at the smug male opposition leader in Parliament? Angered by his continuous misogyny? It was a great thinking moment for women in politics. The comments this woman has had to put up with – from being called ‘barren’ to having one journo say her father ‘died of shame’ because her partner had not ‘made a decent woman of her’ (through marriage!)

  10. Luca Boccianti November 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    the two standard poses for electoral pictures are, 1. smiling with jacket hanging over the shoulder, as you said (meaning hey, I’m elegant and credible because I wear a suit, but I’m ready to work and after all I’m down to earth like you), and 2. close up on face more or less smiling with thumb and index fingers open to an “L” supporting the chin (I’m thoughtful, sympathetic and mindful to you). both say “I’m a bit an original guy”, like anyone else.

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