“Countries and companies can be competitive only if they develop, attract and retain the best talent, both male and female. While governments have an important role to play in creating the right policy framework for improving women’s access and opportunities, it is also the imperative of companies to create workplaces where the best talent can flourish. Civil society, educators and media also have an important role to play in both empowering women and engaging men in the process”. – Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman, World
Old-Fashioned Gender Gap in Modern Italy
Over the centuries Italian woman was confined to the roles of “nun, wife, servant, courtesan” [Sara F. Matthews-Grieco (a cura di), Monaca, moglie, serva, cortigiana: vita e immagine delle donne tra Rinascimento e Controriforma. Firenze: Morgana, 2001]. This was a “conventional wisdom” lasting from the Medieval period to the Renaissance and up to the WW2.
Finally, in 1948 the new Italian Constitution stated that from now on Italian women have equal rights with Italian men. For the first time Italian women were given the right to vote and be elected. However, this “gender gap” wasn’t actually narrowed untill the 1970s. To overcome “gender gap” more time as well as more laws and reforms were needed.
Nevertheless, still today, women in Italy face a number of challenges. Although in modern Italy gender gap is not as evident as it has been in the past, social climate still does not reflect total equality between men and women. Sadly, this is especially true with regard to the Southern of Italy, where domestic or sexual abuse, as well as “honor killings” take place still today (read more on gvei).
A part from gender issues of other nature, the actual fact is that many Italians still assume that woman’s place is in the home and that woman’s primary duty is to take care of house and children, instead of earning a salary. In fact, according to LFS statistics, in 2015 only 47.8% of Italian women result employed: the lowest rate of employment for women within the countries of the European Union!
I mean, given the economical crisis and everything, don’t you people see that getting Italian women into work would help revive the Italian economy? Seriously?
A Woman’s Place Is in The Home
A woman’s place is in the home is the concept millions of women love to hate. Yet, in today’s Italy, this idea still has its adherents and continues to earn the new ones. Including, as it does, not only the overwhelming majority of jealous and possesive Italian husbands, but also the endangered species of Italian females with fairly traditional viewpoints.
Let us lay boring statistics – as well as notes of cynisism – aside for a moment and take an alternative look at the reality of this controversial issue. To begin with, it seems logical to assume, that an Italian woman who boomingly pursues a career is sacrificing a family life. From more than just one point.
In order to understand what Italian people actually think about the issue, I’ve decided to interview my Italian friends, as well as their relatives, who were all glad to collaborate. Finally, I had a total of 1650 persons intrviewed as the survey population, both female and male, with the age range from 17 to 65 years old. Then I’ve just drawn down the results.
In Her Shoes: Pros and Cons
Logically, a career woman has less time for tiding up a house and ironong her husband’s clothes. Let alone picking up her kid/kids from kindergarden or school. So, in 8 cases out of 10, she is likely to assume a housekeeper, a colf, who’ll run all, or at least most, of “her” home duties for her family. Here we must not underestimate the role of baby-sitters as well!
If an Italian career woman is a lucky one, she can rely on her parents or her parents-in-law help. But even if she’s not… Yet, she’ll manage a solution!
Less Time for Life Actually
Obviously, an Italian woman in career has less time for walking to and fro and counting how many calories she has swallowed today. Also because ocasionally she forgets to eat prefering to slip to the gym during lunch break in order to work out the stress.
She has less time for shopping, heardressing and taking an aperitifs with her female friends. Less time to engaging in long-lasting conversations with relativies and endless chats with friends on Socials. Let alone, neighbours! As well as, no extra time to dedicate her husband/boyfriend, or family.
Yet, Italain career woman is always good-looking, up-to-date and precise. She is perfect. Since essential.
No Home Stress
An Italian career woman has less time (and often skills) for cooking a divine Italian dinner. That has a positive side as well. Since when, finally, her latecomer husband appears, she has absolutely no desire for shouting at poor exhausted thing that now he has to eat the “overcooked pasta”. Probably, she’ll just make a phone call to a nearby restaurant and order a pizza. Or make a trendy online order from Rosticceria Cinese (“Chenese Rotisserie”). Noone says “a poor exhausted thing” will not enjoy a new version of “Italian dinner”. At least, to some extent.
Yet again, the point is, an Italian career woman will find an efficient solution! Instead of an old-fashioned grumbling…
Forth, an Italian career woman brings home a salary. A good one. Full stop.
Besides, nowadays it’s rather a rule than an exception that a marriage or a relationship have their expiration date. Even if it’s never written on the package. Yet, if eventually it will expire, at least she will have her career. If it won’t, means there’s no reason to give up on career for a man, either way.
In His Shoes…Career as Role Game
Sooner or later, an Italian man in a relationship with a career woman – especially if he is a former mammone! – will strat feeling himself…trascurato (“neglected”). Since most likely, an Italian woman in career will have “no energy” for sniffing all over her husband’s clothes and making jealousy scenes. Or, wanting to gain his attention at any cost.
That’s because, an Italian female with a brilliant career and high-powered job doubtlessly has less time for being diffident and psychologically unsatisfied. She’s no longer a servant, but a mistress. While an Italian man understands he’s lost control…
Inevitably, this leads to disintegration of the family and its values in the accustomed definition of this word. Since, on the contrary of what the substantial majority of haughty Italian males assert: with self-assured, fearless, and independent women by their side, most Italian men feel unsure of themselves.
The more competitive is the salary of his wife, the bigger failure he seems to himself.
The less jealousy she manifests to him, the more paranoiac he becomes.
The faster rises her self-confidence, the quicker evaporates his.
Unavoidably, the pride of an Italian man humiliated on so many levels secretly tells him he wants to escape. He wants a divorce. Or, on the second thought, he realizes he non ha le palle (literally “doesn’t have balls”, meanig “not brave enough”). Since divorce for almost all Italian men is barely a solution but rather a nightmare. Hence an alternative decision is made – a secret love affair/affairs will just do it.
Seems like, where an Italian Career Woman wouldn’t think of substituting herself with someone else, an Italian men will. Poor thing, he needs to regain his self-esteem, after all. And having a secrtet affair is a shortcut to do that. From purely male stand-point.
Let alone home and relationship issues... There are few more reason why Italian man love and love to hate women in career!
Just imagine the complexities at work place caused by high hills and shapely legs of female colleagues… Which, apparently, make Italian men feel ill at ease by distracting them and forcing impure thoughts cross their minds and completely distract them. The wonder of it is that no Italian man has still blamed the women for the recent financial crisis!
Furthermore, the only idea of ambitious and severe female boss in actual fact mortifies Italian men… If that had to happen to every man across Italy, they all would have moved to Zimbabwe or someplace, where men still have authority with women. As a final result, that would lead to the extinction of the Italian nation. Probably.
Render unto Caesar The Things That Are Caesar’s
In this way, we have got to the bottom of the matter.
The Creator gave a woman the most precious gift – the child-birth ability. For centuries, men were jealous about God’s decision, but, in spite of everything, their discontent remained futile. Therefore, men had no other choice but become helpful by providing for their families. (The problem is that sometimes men are not that efficient…and yet they are trying, aren’t they?)
Thus, the solution of the issue whether a woman’s place is in the home to many Italian people seems rather simple – indeed, a woman’s place is in the home and a man’s is at work – render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Without ever forgetting, that behind every great man there is an even greater woman who lets him believe that she is the blind side!
What are your thoughts on the issue?