The latest one which has been the cause of Berlusconi, the Italian Premier, hitting the headlines for offensive reason is his statement, “YOU ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN INTELLIGENT!”, addressed to Rosy Bindi a matronly, bespectacled Leftist. Naturally the feminist organizations have taken the cudgels for Ms. Bindi. Ms. Bindi herself had retorted, “I AM NOT A WOMAN AT YOUR DISPOSAL.” TO THE DISCERNING, THE RETORT IS REALLY STINGING, AS BINDI HAS MADE IT AMPLY CLEAR THAT IT WAS NONE OF BERLUSCONI’S BUSINESS TO MAKE A JUDGEMENT IF BINDI WAS BEAUTIFUL OR NOT AND THAT SHE WAS NOT LIKE ONE OF THOSE CHEAP WOMEN WHO PLAY BALL WITH HIM FOR ENJOYING HIS HOSPITALITY AND PELF.
The European culture has been less uptight than their UK counter part. Winston Churchill is supposed to have retorted in a similar vein as the following would show:-
Wife of a prominent politician to Winston Churchill (with disdain in her voice): Mr. Churchill, you are drunk!
Mr. Churchill: Yes, madam, and you are ugly. But in the morning, I will be sober, and you will still be ugly.
Winston Churchill got away with it for 2 reasons. One is that he did not provoke, secondly it was a social gathering in which the line was uttered. In the Berlusconi line, there are 2 things which are linked relating to the same lady Bindi, of which the BEAUTY part (if any) is apparent and visible. If the seen body is UGLY, you can imagine when it is said that she is MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN INTELLIGENT! Bindi is twice damned. Rightly the FEMINIST groups have taken up cudgels for the hapless Bindi.
Unlike in India and the USA, where imagined slights to women become burning issues, in Italy there seems to be sound reason based on which the Feminist organizations join issue. Berlusconi’s attitude towards women have been well publicized, yet they have been interpreted to mean that they are his “private affairs”, but when it came to a public figure, and a mean remark to boot, the issue has been taken up. Let us cut back and see the reputation of Winston Churchill. Winston had a clean reputation when it came to women, except for those smart one liners that he came up with, to momentarily stun them (When Lady Astor said that if she were to be married to him, she would put poison in his coffee- he retorted, “if you were my wife i’d drink it!!”). But by and large he was seen as a person who was loyal to Clementine. So many of his jibes were not interpreted to mean that he was a misogynist, whereas Berlusconi’s handling of the beauties have already built up enough steam in the minds of the FEMINISTS that they got a nice opportunity to blow steam.
Let us also look into the statement made by the Ex-Wife of ERIC BESSON, the Emigration Minister of France. His wife of 25(or thereabouts) years has said that even 25 years back Mr.Eric Besson, had had the good sense not to repeat the vow of “FIDELITY”, at their marriage ceremony. Besson was one person who had placed his word much above the LOVE of the woman who would bear his kids. And true to his propensity, neither was FAITHFUL (sexually) nor made any bones of his infidelities!! Now the divorced wife writes a biography and washes all the dirty linen in the public. But politically that seems to have no impact. France had learnt its lessons. When a woman could get married to a man who would not utter his vow of faithfulness even on the day of his marriage, what kind of hope could she have on his FAITHFULNESS? If Sylvie(Besson’s ex-wife) did not mind it- why should the public mind it? Good logic.
Further, if Besson had the BALLS not to utter that vow and took his words seriously even at the prime of his youth, he could be TRUSTED ON HIS WORD, in political affairs. Even better logic.
At least, the French and the Italians have not made holy cows out of their women’s sentiments. They have distinguished between PRIVATE ISSUES and PUBLIC ISSUES. Hope Indians and the Americans of the USA would learn to discern like the Italians and the French!!