Monday, December 13, 2010

What do Italian women want to be?

When I ask him how he understands the Presidente's political vision, he says, "He loves the idea of having fun. Fun is the mantra of Berlusconi. The politicians before him, they were just the brain. Just the head and mouth was moving, and the body didn't exist. Berlusconi is very physical. Just like Mussolini. Very virile. The smile. The body. The idea of having fun is so, so crucial. And he could make people dream. That's the typical side of the narcissist: Where I am, there is paradise."

If there's a distillation of that fun, an image that, along with the proud, bleeding face, explains why the Presidente survives, it is the famous old-man penis from the Summer of Love, the penis belonging to the former Czech prime minister. It is a normal penis, white, either semitumescent or caught in an upswing so that, captured there in the air, it looks semitumescent, perched above a pair of legs that are not the legs of a young man—a little skinny, a little short. But here in the world provided by the Presidente, this penis is allowed to swing in the bright Mediterranean sunlight, for once freed from the suit pants of respectable early old age, happy and carefree and unashamed, surrounded by friendly women in thong bikinis who love and accept this penis for what it is. You can be that penis, Italy. You don't have to pretend to be young or virile or world-beating; you can just be you, an aging, graying, stagnating nation, and still thrive in the world of fun.
Whenever I read an article about Berlusconi, I wonder: What is it like to be a woman in Italy these days? And how do women who support Berlusconi justify their decision? Regardless of whether one agrees with his policies, there is no particular reason why they have to be implemented by someone who actively undermines the significance of female political participation.
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