Tuesday, February 15, 2011

OpEd: Dear Women Rioting in Italy, Berlusconi's Treatment of Women Not Church's Fault

Ah, dear sisters who got interviewed by NPR, please put down your placards for a moment and have a cup of tea with me. Or a nice glass of Chianti. We need to talk, woman to woman.

You spoke to me this morning as I was getting my kids ready for school, listening to a news story on your prime minister's latest attempt to make Hugh Hefner look like a saint. Rioting in the streets to protest Berlusconi's outrageous behavior seems like an entirely appropriate reaction to me. No qualms there. The reporter then said there was a lot of consideration as to why the vibrant feminist movement in place in the 1970s had suddenly spiraled into underage women being used by powerful men for pleasure and power. Your answer?: The macho culture and the Catholic Church.

Okey dokey. I'm sure the machismo doesn't help matters a bit. But the Catholic Church is responsible for a situation where Berlusconi is sleeping with 17 year old girls?

Let me point a few distressing facts:
  • The Catholic Church considers sex before marriage sinful. Always has. Always will.
  • The Catholic Church holds that women should be respected in the dignity of their personhood. That is in the home, in the workplace, on the beach, on TV, at a party, actually, anywhere. There's a document named Mulierius Dignatatem. Feel free to read it sometime. Or heck, read the gospels.
  • Since maybe 50% of the named saints come from Italy, you can look to them for some examples--especially the modern ones. Apparently you walk down any street and encounter a shrine, right? These women were, to a person, happy, and liberated from the culture's false sense of need to be any man's cupcake. You think they're oppressed?
  • Candidly, Catholicism has fallen so out of favor within Italian culture I wonder where you think the Catholic Church would have that kind of widespread societal influence.

More Chianti?

See, sisters, here's the sticky part. Although Berlusconi is responsible for his own sins, and these women are at least at some level victims, I'm afraid there is a certain amount of reaping the whirlwind here. When you advocate being "liberated" from marriage, you're freeing yourself into being used. Sister, what were you thinking when you came up with this quote?

"As far as I'm concerned, everyone can have all the orgies they like. However, orgies can in no way be the key factor in the selection process of political leaders."

It's not exactly an enthralling statement of conscience, is it? No, it goes against basic logic, women: have orgy => get used => be seen as usable object => get treated like usable object. If you don't make a stand for dignity in the first place, you can't easily reclaim it later. Women, YOU helped foster this culture that is destroying our daughters. (Yes, not just you. Men too. I'm having a talk with them later, thank you very much. I'm planning to use the Chianti bottle on them after we finish drinking it.)

The good news is, of course, there is some conscience at work here. We agree Berlusconi must be held accountable for his crimes (and they are crimes). But I beg you to stop drinking the "open sex is free" Kool Aid. Berlusconi is apparently "surprised" that a million women are in the streets, protesting his behavior. Is it worth asking the question--why?

IC

3 comments:

George @ Convert Journal said...

A good piece!

You had me hooked at your prime minister's latest attempt to make Hugh Hefner look like a saint...

Shark Bait said...

Hoo Ha Ha!

CMinor said...

"If you don't make a stand for dignity in the first place, you can't easily reclaim it later."

At a roadside stop in Tuscany some time ago, I noticed an Italian mother with a boy who looked to be no more than 12. He was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a large female bondage image. We traveled extensively in Western Europe and never saw anything quite like it anywhere else--not in Amsterdam; not in Scandinavia. The sight remains in my mind as clear evidence of something fundamentally awry with Italian culture today.