Thursday, 22 October 2009

For wrath, fury, etc, read anger

Italy's worst advertisement, Brain-dead Berlusconi, is at it again, this time with what Reuters reporter Deepa Babington calls his "cutting remark about a female rival's lack of beauty": that she is "more beautiful than intelligent". Rosy Bindi is a senior left-wing politician, but Ms Babington can't rely on us getting Berlusconi's point from her photo - she has to describe her immediately as "matronly, bespectacled", nudge nudge.

Italian women have reacted strongly to this "insult", with 97,000 signing the "Women offended by the premier" appeal, Facebook sites and protests. Bindi's response, "I'm not a woman at your disposal" has appeared on T-shirts and placards.

So how is this anger described? As a "rare public backlash/feminist backlash" - a term much more accurately used for right-wing attacks on feminism.

Reporters must have a handy little compenidum of well-worn phrases lurking somewhere on their computers, ready to leap to their fingers as soon as the words "women", "feminist" and "protest" appear. Women objecting to sexism never, you understand, express justifiable anger -no, behaviour such as Berlusconi's always "unleashes their fury", or, as here, "opens the floodgates of female wrath".

And for good measure, Ms Babington (who clearly knows what her bosses want) saw fit to end the story by reminding us of S.B.'s earlier "swipe" at Bindi (which I won't deign to repeat here). The Dom-Post subs liked this so much that they used it as the large boldface caption for the PM's photo, even though it was months old and had little to do with the current story.


Giovanni Tiso said...

Giovanna Melandri's comeback - "Berlusconi is taller than he is honest" - made me smile.

Here's the text of the appeal in English and here's the English version of a very topical documentary on the female body in the Italian media. I saw one of the filmmakers, Lorella Zanardo, debate some scumbags on Italian TV three weeks ago and it gave me some hope for the nation - the way in which she kept her cool in the face of all manners of provocation was particularly heartening.

Brett Dale said...

I think its disgusting that Politicians have to make personal comments against each other.

It seems the media though, picks and chooses it's cases to show outrage.

I have heard several comments made about Greg Brownlee's weight and Winston peters height, and a fuss is never made.

Anonymous said...

oh of course; 'what about teh menz?'
the requirements to be attractive placed on men and women are hardly comparable, Brett.

Brett Dale said...

Your kidding me right??? There was a brilliant BBC documentary about seven or eight years ago that tested the theory of the pressures that society puts on looks and the judgments people make on looks.

They did all these human behavioral tests to see if Society judge men the same way as woman.

One of the tests they did was to dress up a man who was six feet in height and good looking, they dressed him up in a expensive business suit in the middle of London, they then asked females what job they thought he did, the replies were...

Top Executive
Self made Millionaire

They then got a guy who was five foot, normal looking, they put him in a expensive business suit and they asked females what job he did, the replies were....

Kitchen Hand
Hes on parole
Minimum wage job

They reverse the test, and it was males that didnt prejudge

Something to think about.

Jill said...

Yep one doco totally convinces me lol!

You can compare it to how often people talked about Helen Clark's appearance as too how much people now talk about John Key's appearance.

Oh yeah. They DON'T talk about John Key's appearance. But one doco....yep spot on there.

'What about teh menz' indeed.

Brett Dale said...

Of course one doco doesnt make something right, you need years of research, but I have worked in various places and different industires and I have seen on many occasions little fat bald men get passed over for promotion (even though they had the best ideas) while the Brad Pitt lookalikes got promoted.

People being judge by what they look like is, just doesn't happen to the female gender.

Giovanni Tiso said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Giovanni Tiso said...

Sounds like the bald man in your example was passed for a promotion in favour of another man. See what you did there?

Brett Dale said...

There were only two people up for Promotion, and the good looking useless worker got picked and the fat bald guy, the Boss who made the choice was female by the way.

How can you not believe there is Bias in the work place against males judge on by what they look like?

I could give you hundreds of other examples.

Giovanni Tiso said...

I believe it fine, and I don't like the put downs on Brownlee on account of his weight any more than you do, it just happens not to be the point.

We are fortunate to live in a society where women can occasionally rise to the top of their chosen fields - as demonstrated rather spectacularly over the last decade - but it doesn't mean that sexism is over. Do you really want to compare the discourse regarding Helen Clark's (entirely unexceptional) looks with, say, John Key's? When women point one of these instances out, as the poster reminds us, the mainstream media has a way of framing the response that is itself belittling and more than a little insulting, which is a measure of how much more work needs to be done on the route to equality. That men might also be judged on the basis of their appearance is entirely irrelevant to the point of the post.