I read a book given to me by a colleague who described it as a Bible of her own. I like Bibles, for their conviction and the mysterious ways of talking about life ( I would prefer a bullet point approach though, for clarity sake).
My colleague is Italian living in Czechia for many years.
-“I hope you will like it!”, she said.
-“ I am sure I will”, I said and we were both happy for having met a kindred spirit while walking through our own versions of "40 days in the dessert". Dalla parte delle bambine, by Elena Gianini Belotti (Rome, 1929) seems like a big deal, I thought.
Well, it is indeed a big deal.
It might be the first articulated, easy to understand explanation in the Italian culture for a seemingly desperate situation happening for no reason.
I may also understand better now what is going on in Italy, a culture strongly implanted in patriarchy, and maybe in the world. I lived there for almost 3 years, it felt like being Ginny lost in the bottle, hence the cover photo.
Since writing these thoughts is going to take more space and time than expected, I decided to section the text, installments like.
I remember clearly the day in my childhood when I was told that a girl, when wearing a dress should hold it like princesses at the ball do, and walk like that. Even better- float.
I liked to run, climb trees to the top which scared my mother out of her wits, I spent hours on the roof of our house, experimented pissing from a tree, just to see how it feels when boys do it, never cared much about my looks, worked hard caring stones while building our house, chopped wood when it was cold and we needed to stay alive, cooked food for the whole family when my mother couldn't make it. My parents never stopped me from doing all these things, they even called me Victoraș, which is the masculine version of Victoria, my name.
Physically I was not stopped but there was indeed a cultural barrier and an internal barrier. I did not know how to be me, the woman. Not knowing what I was but having the attributes to get into an industry ( by accident) which is literally devouring and exploiting the feminine, the fashion industry, I lost the little clarity and understanding I thought I had. I survived the environment but found myself hurt mentally, physically, emotionally and deeply confused. It was a perfect school for resilience and self discovery.
Even though I was out of the familiar society - Moldova, I was still holding myself back, behind the same limitations. That is to say, I could have had different results if there would have been a support system implanted in my mind and also around me. But I was alone among the sharks.
In the book, the writer explains, after having observed in details the behavior of hundreds of mothers, the way in which Italian girls are culturally conditioned to behave in certain ways as to be accepted by the society. To be successful in that society meant to get married and give birth to children. Full stop.
Language has a tremendous importance in this story. Mothers talk differently to boys than to girls. The women world refers to suffering, acceptance, submission, restrictiveness. The boys get freedom, power, choice, encouragement.
To me that seems like a general, en mass- conspiracy against women by women. Why? Is it because of the religion? Because men want to have all the power? Who assigned this second hand status to the women? Why is it still on in 2019? After all feminist movements going on?
I hear about women having become victims constantly. All societies are touched, I know first hand about those I have come in direct contact with: Italy, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Germany, China, South Korea, now Czechia. Even if they do come out and speak about it (as in #metoo movement), the speaker is still a woman talking about surviving, overcoming, having been a victim of someone who did something to them.
I believe this it the reason why women are still oppressed, violated and killed- they project themselves into the world as victims, they think like victims do. Where is this thinking coming from?
So, next time, I will go into what a victim mentality is. How does it manifest in women today and maybe so I will understand the reaction of men.
Best wishes from Prague,