Monday, July 4

When Will Italy get the Picture?

In this group of pictures, can you spot the mistake(s)?*

Growing up, I would spend countless hours tuning my laser eyes on those brain riddles, mazes, word searches and drawings. So I admit, I may have a sort of pronounced proclivity for this sort of thing; or in the very least, an acute attention to detail. Whenever these ubiquitous thumbnails come across my screen, I tend to think they are stock photos sadly selected by an unpaid intern in some random social media room. Purposefully employed to promote every iteration of event, conference, meeting and launch. The selection above comes from a pit-stop on the site of the purported Wall Street Journal of Italy, il Sole 24ore. Touting themselves as warriors raising the battle cries of our age -- they purport to shed light on economic growth, education, culture, and more for my fellow paesani in the land of Sole. Except, time and again, it's only half the story; or 49% rather. Amazon warriors need not apply. 

Italy is not the only country that runs a foul of mass misogyny (the Vatican, or Saudi Arabia come to mind). You don't need to look too far back when an all-male panel (a "Manel") convened in the US Congress to 'investigate' and weigh in on American women's reproductive rights (we how on earth could that have happened?). The scene was staight out of a Sharia Courthouse, except the women were spared stoning...But the geyser of misinformation-by-example spilling over and onto every little girl growing up in this culture, is crystal clear: only men can add to GNP / GDP / or be eligible for public office. Any gains we've ever had in this regard have been at the hands of indefatigable women plugging one by one, each and every wellspring of male privilege. 

While Italy is going through one of its worst periods of economic recession in modern history (sadly, since about the day I arrived in 1992), youth unemployment at 51% and a brain drain to match Syria's...You can meander on over to the foremost economic journal in the country only to find "experts" wringing their hands over what counter measures could possibly be employed to reverse course. Almost never do these measures involve the empowerment of women; unless they are taking measurements of the pole dancers for the after-party. 

A top lingerie company in Southern Italy with worldwide exports boasts that out of 700 salesmen, they have - count - 700 salesmen

They blithely turn up their noses of the wealth of studies and information put under their very noses by real experts -- like their very own Abramvel (author of Meritocrazia and Regole), who, while heading up McKinsey & Co., demonstrated that companies with over three women in the boardroom outperformed the competition 9:1. Nine times. 

Men in power (and that's pretty much all of them) still haven't cottoned onto the fact that there exists in Italy a rather strong continuum that starts with keeping women out of public and economic life to women-as-(near naked) adverts to women as plastic surgeons' grostesque fantasy dolls, to women being massacred -- in their homes or on the streets where they live on a nearly daily basis. 

Italy is the country that has brought us lasting imagery as it excels in cinema, staging, sports culture, the arts, big businesses, and even aerospace. When will the daily newsfeeds catch up with the rest of us, and depict women as they truly are. And then, all of us, along with il Sole24ore can truly claim our enlightened country as the Land of the Sun.