– I apoligize to Swedes not translating this post, it is quite long. Pls use Google –
Feminism is a topic I never talk about with sicilians, especially not with sicilian women because the reaction is like you brought somekind of evil spirits in the room. And there are modern sicilian indipendent women, even if they still are quite few. And men here knows that I can take care of myself and I have no problems with them at all. To the contrary what some media information wants us to believe. Sicilian men in general are very kind and wants well. But many times they are kinda lost and treated badly.
Well, sometimes documentaries are released about the horrible life sicilian women have and how terrible these sicilian macho men are and treating women as shit. I hate these documentaries simply because they do not tell the whole truth. Of course there are shitty men here as in any other countries, but there are shitty women too. Some swedish women asks sometimes why I do not get involved or start somekind of a women movement in Sicily and I can understand them from the swedish point of view. But I will never do it. And there are many reasons why. Just the words “anti”, “fight against”, “pro this” etc makes my skin shiver because these fights rarely leads somewhere.
First: the saying that “Women who do not help other women has a special place in hell” does not mean that stronger women should carry and take life responsability of other women. It does not mean either that stronger women should turn their backs on women in need. For me it means to be a support for women who really wants and works for to get an indipendency or get away from a bad relationship and other issues. But the work is hers.
Second: women in Sicily has everything served. Loans, funds, tax reductions as entrepreneurs, education packages etc for much better conditions than for men. In Sweden we do not have anything similar. There is nothing legal that stops women to stand on their own two feets, infact it is the opposite. But the law says also that when a woman gets married and have kids, she is guaranteed for the rest of her life a economical support and the home as long as the youngest child is 18 years old. And this even if they get divorced. So it is very easy to become lazy as a woman in Italy. There you may also get a hint of one of the reasons for so many female murders in Italy. How would you feel as an ex-wife having the legal must to support your ex-husband if you divorce him, and then also loose your home? And perhaps get the right to see yuor kids 24 hours a week? Of course there is no law for women to do this. Women here has started to scream for justice, but not changing the law. So eat the cake and have the cake the same time? Now some prenups starts to pop up, instead of forcing the husband to sign over all property to his father. I get so many times the question why I do not marry a rich sicilian man, then I can relax the rest of my life. Marry for money? Not for me. I could never put myself in a situation to ask for money and permession all the time from a man or from any other human. Imagine if you have a big fight and then have to ask for 10 euros to buy tampons. This is my choice. But if someone else chooses other, it is their choice.
Third: most women I know in Sicily has stopped working when they get married. Menstruation and pregnancy is seen more as an illness, than a natural thing in womens life. And still many call in sick every month.
Four: those who goes to church and asks for priests advice in life decision are…..mostly women…or men in older generations. Just step into a church as see it for yourself. If women still prays in places where teachings are that she is inferior the man and should be treated as a fragile vessel, then the choice is hers. Too many still do it. Being religious in e.g. Sweden is a total different thing than being it in Italy, becuase the church here is everywhere. From the first day you are born ’til the post office in the neighborhood.
Of course there are fathers, husbands and boyfriends who stop their women, and so many just do as they say. As the last thing that happened when my hubbies hair dresser left her job because he did not want her to work (after four months of dating). But, the whole picture is that it is actually women themselves stopping their freedom. Personally I have no problems with sicilian men, but I have always problems with women in Sicily. And you can imagine the situation living as a swedish woman in a classical sicilian family. Not very nice. I never get any nice comments from women. Never. Just the regular bullshit which has lead to “do not treat them back badly, but do not visit and do not ask them to visit you”. Sad. Very sad. If they choose their lifestyle walking at home all days and never leave the city, it is their choice and I do not care nor say anything. The problem becomes mine when they think they know how I should live my life. This may sound harsch, but what can they really teach an indipendent woman from Sweden? You can not have one conversation without the female family gang starting to dictate my life.
I have never been a member in women movement organisations and never will. I do not think we should separate us more. Even the feminism in Sweden has gone too far, they do not deal with real issues anymore and the dialogue is that “everything is the mans fault.” Living in Sweden gave me a quite stupid idea of the genders and especially being a woman I was completely lost. And now living here seeing the womens life reminds me daily of what I do not want to become. Why not stop for a while and ask “What do I really want?”. All the prejuduces said I never saw in real life. A lot of confusion. I have practised in a women shelter and there you do not have the permission to really help nor say anyhting, it is just a in- and out place for women. And not to talk about the catholic help centers in Italy where they advice women to go back to a violent man and they even call the man to tell where they are so he can come a pick up the abused woman and kids. Insane!
My opinion in all these feminism issues is quite short. When women are prepared to provide for themselves or be smart enough to have an economical security and own idea of life, no matter of their lifestyle choices, then we will see gender equality. Because these women already exsists. And when women stands up and seriously demanding law changes. In this world there is more violence against men than women, and if we are not allowed to question matters like; if fulltime motherhood is really good, violent women, critisize religion, questioning the failure of male leadership in this world, why some sexuality is regulated ecc….there will not be any room for equality. I am pro equality, but I would rather call myself humanist than feminist, because equality is not only for genders, it is also for all other discriminated groups. But many women or men do not want to hear this. The feminism I support is what my grand mothers generation did in Scandinavia. They fought for voting rights for women, that women were allowed to open their own businesses, that they got an own identity and were not under a mans custody and many other things that gave todays women the freedom we have. And they managed to do this even having power men against them. These are issues to fight and protect for. Not blaming men all together and live in the past in stories that are not ours.
It is nice to see a change with the younger generation in Sicily. You see it so clearly. There are people breaking free and have the courage to decide their own life, even with pressure from the older generations. And I never forget a recent story I read about a young italian female architect. She went to university to be an architect. And fell in love with one of the younger male teachers. She got pregnant. He abandoned her. Her mother told her to stop studying, trying to convince the man to marry her, because according to the mother of course it was her fault she got pregnant. She refused. Her mother turned her back on her pregnant daughter and called her bad names and that she was a shame for the whole village. She managed to finish her studies even having the child. The child got her lastname as the father did not want to know about the child (in Italy it is still seen as a bastard in many places). Then she opened her own architect studio having the child with her until the child was accepted for third part care. Her mother came back to ask for forgivness quite early and the relation is repared. And guess who comes by when her firm is going well and she earns money? Yes, the father of her child. Begging her to take him back. She did not. But she forgave him and he can see the child.
It is not fair to say that everyhting is the mans fault. Many laws has been made against women in the past and still exists, but also men has suffered and suffers. And dividing genders, sexual orientatins and other silly recommendations of human relations has not been so succesful either as we can see around us. But if a person choses a lifestyle that limits her/him, then it is their choice. The problem is that too many try to force their own hell making on others and we who chose other has to be understanding. No, enough of this!
I think we all are personally responsable of our own lives. We have the right to have any opinions and lifestyles, but not to tell others how to live. And we are obligated to help eachother, but not be dependent.
Then comes the same comment “Well Johanna, it is easy for you to say!” No, it is not. We never know what exactly has happened in other peoples lives.