Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Divorce, Italian Style

Veronica Lario seems to be a formidable woman. She has to be. Almost twenty years of marriage to Silvio Berlusconi and almost thirty of living with him are no easy feat.

It is not possible to ennumerate all that the Italian Prime Minister is notorious for in a simple blog post. Suffice to say he is a notorious politician and a notorious womanizer, and most notorious for not keeping the two apart. The anti-discrimination officer in his cabinet is a TV-starlet. His promoted candidates for the European parliament included former Big Brother and Miss Italy contestants.

Veronica Lario has fumed at these occurences - justifiably so. After several angry but intelligent letters to the press, she has now filed for divorce.

Divorce from Berlusconi is likely to be even more difficult than marriage to him. In every other country, Ms Lario would have been sure of public sympathy. In Italy - a country where porn star Cicciolina was elected to parlament - a prime minister is not likely to be blamed for helping beautiful women along in their political career.

Ms Lario herself ticks more clichè boxes than is good for her case: an aged topless beauty who has married a powerful man, now obsessing over his flirts with younger women. Italian culture has not been kind to inconvenient older women: in the ubiquitious movie"Divorce, Italian Style" Marcello Mastroiani commanded sympathy and understanding for killing his wife in order to marry his 16-year old cousin.

Berlusconi has yet to rise to these heights. Nonetheless, Veronica Lario might find herself facing more than lengthy and messy divorce proceedings: implicitly, she has taken issue with the whole way the culture of her country envisions women. I, for one, hope she emerges victorious. Because Italian society has to accept that a woman does not forfeit her right to dignity, and loyalty, and respect, simply on the count of not being eighteen any more.


  1. Remember when people kept their private matters private? How I long for those days again...sigh!

  2. Private matters are a tool of politics, at least in the case of those two. Most Europeans see Berlusconi as frankly embarassing too.

  3. Liked the last punch line...nice blog.