There were big demonstrations in 200 cities across Italy on Sunday as well as in a reported 28 other cities around the world, including Paris and New York. The purpose of the rallies–dubbed Se non ora, quando? (If not now, when?)–was to protest the lack of respect shown to women in Italy today. Feminists are fed up with the sexist portrayal of women on commercial television (most of which Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi owns or controls). And women–including those of a certain age, his heretofore strongest supporters–feel personally affronted by Berlusconi’s latest peccadillos. He is under investigation for paying for sex with an underaged Moroccan prostitute (colorfully known as Ruby Rubacuori or Ruby the Heart-Stealer) and for abusing his power by having her released from prison where she was being held on charges of theft. In his defense, the Prime Minister said that he thought Ruby was the niece of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. “It is strange,” one of the prosecutors noted with acid tongue, “that Mr. Berlusconi should secure her release and then fail to notify the Egyptian Ambassador in Rome so that the poor child could be properly looked after instead of having to spend the night with a Brazilian prostitute friend.” Hee!
This is highly embarrassing for many people who are angry not only at Berlusconi but at the culture of a country where a prime minister could survive such allegations. So far, Berlusconi is just laughing the whole thing off and dismissing the charges as motivated by a vast left wing conspiracy but we just got word that his trial has been fast-tracked for April so we shall see who has the last laugh.
They say that over a million demonstraters showed up for the demonstrations world-wide. Including Morgan and me.
Now, family and friends, before you start giving me a hard time about favoring Morgan over the older dog Lula in the realm of Sunday outings, let me explain. Lula doesn’t like crowds of more than three people, possibly because she was abandoned practically at birth (and probably treated cruelly or at least neglected before being abandoned) and possibly because she was not adequately socialized as a puppy. The latter is my fault and it’s a mistake I don’t want to repeat with Morgan. So I’m making a point of taking him out and about whenever I can. OK?
I have to say that Morgan didn’t much enjoy the crowds either (nor did I because there were about 100 000 people in Piazza del Popolo, which only comfortably accommodates 30 000). But he did like being out in the sun and he loved the tram ride where people made a fuss of him and he got to look out the window as all the cars crawled by. And there was another dog on the tram, which was fun because he got in a little sniffing time as well.
Although most Italians I talk to despair of Berlusconi ever being ousted or the culture of sleaze that pervades Italy ever being totally rejected, the demonstration felt kinda historic and I’m glad I made the effort.