The return of Berlusconi has given the media a field day looking out his most inappropriate quotes from old files and happily awaiting new ones.
His most annoying comment of recent times is on the new Zapatero government in Spain which has a majority of female ministers. According to this source, Mr Berlusconi suggested it is “too pink.” He went on to say “he [Mr Zapatero] has asked for it, he will have problems leading them,” adding that “[i]n Italy there is a prevalence of men in politics and therefore it is not so easy to find women who are ready for the government.”
Magdalena Alvarez, Spain’s infrastructure minister, described the remark as offensive and said that “[m]any of us women would refuse to work for a government that had Mr Berlusconi as prime minister.” Berlusconi tried to make amends by saying that he “greatly appreciated the colour pink in that government” and that “[i]t’s possible that the female members take a series of measures stemming from the everyday life, from the concrete reality of being a mother, a wife and perhaps also a working woman.” “Perhaps also”? I found this link on further comparisons between Messrs. Berlusconi and Zapatero; again, unflattering to the former.
When I came in to work, earlier this week, a female colleague drew my attention to this picture of the new Spanish Minister for Defence reviewing troops in Madrid. She is the first woman to hold the post and also seven months pregnant. It perked us both up. Viva Zapatero.
Meanwhile, on the domestic front, I fear that all is not what it might be in the arena of gender stereotyping. I had the following conversation with the Princess this evening.
Me: How was your school trip to the farm today?
Her: Great, I rubbed a sheep, a donkey and a bull [Really?]. Can I have horse riding lessons? I didn’t rub a pig. There were no pigs. There was a dog though but we weren’t allowed to rub it in case it bit us. We had Peter Pan on the bus in French and all the songs were in French [spirited rendition of same].
Me [a little overwhelmed by the flow of eloquence]: Was the farmer there?
Her: No, just our teachers. There was another woman who showed us things.
Me: That was probably the farmer.
Her: But it was a woman.
Me: But women can be farmers.
Her: But she had a baby.
Me: Even women with babies can be farmers.
Her: Sceptical expression.
Imagine women with babies can even be Spanish ministers for defence.