If not now, when?


This is a really exciting time to be a feminist in Italy. Did I just make you spit out your drink? No, I mean it. At least for an idealist one like me it is. This is the first time in all the years I’ve lived here (a total of nine, since first coming as a student in 1995), that I’ve heard more than just one or two Italian women express their disgust and anger over their general treatment in this society and especially their portrayal in the media.


All of this has of course been sparked by the new heights of utter sleaziness that Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has reached with his latest in a ridiculously long line of scandals. I’m not even going to get into the slimy details of “Rubygate” here because I’d risk vomiting all over my keyboard. 

So even though Il Cavaliere’s latest sexcapade is depressing beyond words, it does seem to have finally broken the proverbial camel’s back. Out of the darkest dark comes the light, so to speak. This Sunday, February 13, thousands of Italian women throughout the country will be “descending upon the squares” (scendere in piazza, an Italian expression meaning to demonstrate/march), to protest the deplorable ways they are treated and portrayed in Italy. The event, dubbed Se non ora quando? (If not now, when?), will also be taking place in some 20 other cities around the world, including Toronto.

Although the subject is women and the main purpose is to call for their greater dignity and respect, men are warmly invited to march alongside their sisters, mothers, daughters, wives and friends. In fact, I was heart-warmed to receive an invitation to sign the related petition by an Italian male acquaintance.

Cynics worry that the timing of this event makes it doomed to being reductively perceived as just another leftist machination, despite the insistence to the contrary of vocal organizers and supporters. I am also quite possibly romanticizing it, since walking in Sunday’s march will be the first truly active thing I do as a feminist (besides writing this blog). But, damn, I can’t help but feel incredibly excited about it. I choose to believe this really is a sign something is changing here, even just a spark of what will obviously still be a long road.

In reading about the event, I discovered that Lorella Zanardo is going to be at the march here in Florence with a film crew. Zanardo is one of the creators of the powerful, incisive 25-min. documentary Il Corpo delle Donne (The Body of Women), which calls to task the “grotesque, vulgar and humiliating” representation of women on Italian television (watch it here with English subtitles). On her blog of the same name, Zanardo explains that while she’s not normally the protesting type, Sunday’s march is different. I especially appreciate her exhortation that all kinds of women – young and old, native and “foreign” – join her. Ci saro’!