Monthly Archives: January 2011

Italian Women Speak Out

The U.S. broadcast news networks widely covered the story yesterday that Italian President Silvio Berlusconi and three associates were being investigated for paying for sex with a 17-year old Moroccan girl and using the President’s office to cover it up. The US correspondents discussed the “antics” of Berlusconi, particularly the accusation that he hired prostitutes to participate in orgies and that he furnished them with luxury apartments. They also noted that Berlusconi’s popularity inside Italy has gone up since the scandal probe began. Each of the correspondents interviewed Italian men and women on the street, all of whom made comments to the effect that “he’s just an Italian man,” “I’d take the money if he’d pay me for sex,” etc. What the media did not report is that over 2000 Italian women, including labor leaders, feminists, working women, housewives and mothers have signed an online petition entitled, “Basta” or “Enough,” about their disgust with the President’s actions and calling for his resignation! It is time for more balanced reporting. Obviously, the US news wants to play up the sensational and scandalous details but in doing so reinforces the underlying sexist assumption that Berlusconi’s actions aren’t serious and that “boys will be boys.” Matt Lauer’s smirking smile after the Today show foreign correspondent finished his report further confirmed that this is how many in the news view this issue. But ask yourselves this: if they were reporting on a 74-year old Italian man paying for sex with a 17 year-old Cambodian girl held in an Italian brothel, would the story be cast in the same light? For the sake of all the women in Italy, I hope we see more responsible reporting in the future. –Holly Mathews