Lindsay Lewis

English/ ESL consultant: Word worker, writer, teacher, mentor and poet. Author of This Won’t Hurt a Bit! on writing clear content.

Are Italians misogynists? Italian movies, language and culture…

I’ve watched over fifty Italian movies the past two months as I’m acquiring the language, and movies are full of natural discourse. The movies range in age from the 1960’s to 2018, yet even the modern movies portray women in a disparaging light. In one film, from 1962, the movie opens with twelve minutes of a camera panning a woman’s legs, following her as she leaves her home, takes the bus and gets off. Then there are several minutes of examining her body. This objectification of women is extremely dangerous, setting seeds of information which state that a woman is nothing more than a mannequin. Another movie had a group of scantily clad, stupid, obnoxious women in tight clothing flocking around a successful man. They speak in high, squeaky voices suggesting that they are not intelligent.

Another common theme in Italian movies, even the recent ones set in 2015, condone the theme of infidelity- in fact they seem to find it funny.  A movie set in the tropics is about a business man who wants to escape with his mistress to Aruba. When he arrives, his neighbours, a married couple are there which puts a damper on his relationship. The film is so insipid and tasteless, it reminded me of Baywatch, full of dumb blondes in bathing suits and almost no substance. Again, the women are props, playthings, for the men. Another recent film, La Donna de Nessuno is about a wealthy lawyer who becomes involved with a prostitute who is suspected of murder, ( and in fact she killed another model). He receives phone calls from this woman and even speaks to her in front of his wife. The prostitute finds out where he lives and crashes his high society party, almost pulling it off.  The message portrayed here is that if a woman marries a powerful man, she’ll put up with his mistress because she is so superficial, she just wants the lifestyle, the image and the money.  Another film, His Women, or Il Mantenuto is about a playboy who takes advantage of women of all ages. The women again are portrayed as bimbos with no clue as to his character or behavior.

Il Mio Papa is a refreshing change from these stereotypical roles. In this movie, a woman who is divorced with a son becomes involved with a really wonderful man who becomes a father to her son. He goes to the child’s swimming lessons, wants to pick him up after school but is treated as a criminal because he isn’t “the real father.” The biological father is portrayed as a shadowy thug. The mother is tragically killed just as the couple decide to get married and make a life together. This is a thoughtful movie with more depth than the others.

I of course found some treasures such as Il Postino, which is one of the best films I’ve ever seen, but these are buried in movies in which violence, slapping and stupidity are the order of the day. There are also a lot of prostitutes in movies, either in the background or the foreground, again a reminder that women are nothing more than sex toys for men.  Some films such as Napoli, Napoli , Napoli are more documentaries about the plight of people in the south who want to have decent lives but suffer from poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity, driving them toward crime.

Is Italy evolving as a country? There are many women protesting the violence against women . There was a protest last week because a woman was gang raped and murdered. I don’t know the outcome of the trial. Italy is a varied country rich in history, but it seems behind in the times regarding the roles of men and women. I suppose this is inevitable given that Milan is the superficial center of stupidity for Italy with its fashion week and people who think they are morally superior because they are wearing the latest styles. I detest the Milanese; I think they are arrogant and trivial idiots. Behind the latest clothes are sweat shop factories and poorly paid workers cranking out fast fashion to be consumed. Showing off seems to be the only gift the Milanese have. I shouldn’t be so harsh- some of the best inventions come from Milan- highly creative industry- but I detest the city and its people. My memory is limited to the church, and a pile of burning tires with prostitutes standing around it…

I’ll keep you informed as my investigative journey continues.