Radio Netherlands Worldwide

SSO Login

More login possibilities:

Close
  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
Home
Thursday 24 April  
"Soft porn" TV angers Italian women
Vanessa Mock's picture
Map
Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy

"Soft porn" TV angers Italian women

Published on : 7 September 2009 - 10:53am | By Vanessa Mock
More about:

Not every Italian woman is a scantily clad blonde. Although watching Italian TV shows might give you just that feeling. Women all over Italy are sick and tired of the constant stream of nearly-naked women on television and on advertising billboards. It is fuelling Berlusconi-style "machismo" and dragging their country backwards, they say.


 
"What we are dealing with is a constant stream of soft porn from morning until night on our TV screens," says Lorella Zanardo, the maker of a documentary film about women on Italian television. "The real difference between Italy and other European countries is that women's bodies here are really shown as objects irrespective of the programme you're watching. It's the only thing on offer."

 
"Il Corpo delle Donne" ("Women's Bodies"), a provocative montage of national prime-time TV, raises questions about Italian society at a time when national headlines continue to be dominated by scandals over Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's liaisons with young glamour girls. His appointment of former TV starlets (in Italian 'veline') to government posts has triggered an outcry, with a group of high-profile women going as far as writing to G20 leaders earlier this summer urging them to boycott a summit hosted by Berlusconi (72). 

Lorella Zanardo, who watched 400 hours of television for her project, adds: "I was really shocked. In one show, a young woman was literally suspended among pieces of dried meat. She wore only knickers and they stamped her bottom like it was a prosciutto ham. It's pure humiliation." (see picture below) In another scene, a male game show mocks one participant, asking her whether she had "forgotten her breasts at home".

  • ©

 
National obsession
"Looks have always been important here, but now it's a national obsession," says documentary maker Zanardo as we meet in the fashion district of Milan. A group of teenage girls nearby seem to endorse this. Gloria, a 16-year old, says: "It's indispensable for me to look good. I take at least an hour to get ready and I get up early to make sure that my hair and my clothes are right before I leave the house."

"My friend takes up to two hours to get ready for school to look good. She has to be the centre of attention," adds Isabella, an 18-year-old schoolgirl. "It's a bit much." 

A number of prominent commentators publicly deplored the damage being wreaked to Italy's image by Berlusconi. The prime minister is now trying to sue newspapers such as 'La Repubblica', which do not belong to his media empire and which have been outspoken about his affairs and comments about women.

"We can no longer tolerate this," Chiara Volpato, a sociologist at Milan University, said in a newspaper interview. "Today there are two Italys. One of which accepts Berlusconi's ideology, the other which rejects it." 

For Lorella Zanardo, the rot on TV has to stop in order for society to move forward. "That's why I decided to make this film, as a wake-up call. These programmes are dangerous because you are sitting there with your family at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon and these soft-porn images flood into your living room," she says, referring to a spate of family entertainment where cameras lure over women's bodies.
 
"But it does not really occur to you it's soft-porn anymore because they are made for families and ten million people watching. At least if you choose to watch porn, you get a DVD, it's private and you watch it at home. But here you have no control."
 
Pressure
to look good
Many Italians I met are unhappy with the media fascination for the young and beautiful. "Now even our politicians have to be beautiful or they get booed off the screen," says Katerina, a young mother from Siena. "We are under huge pressure to look good because these images are everywhere." 
 
But her husband Marco, disagrees. "I don't think the image of women here really has changed thanks to Berlusconi," he says, adding that the fascination with "glamour" is everywhere. "Look at President Sarkozy, he married Carla Bruni, a model. It's not just Italy, it's a media obsession."

Lorella Zanardo says the problem has its roots in machismo and tradition in Italy. "It's not just Berlusconi's party. The other parties have the same attitude to women. It's a problem with our society in Italy. We have lost the ability of saying 'enough'. Basta!" 
 
Watch the film "Women's Bodies" (25 mins)

Related content

Discussion

Kevin 10 November 2011 - 9:00pm / UK

Violence against Women is the same in the UK as in Italy. However Women in England are much more likely to report crimes of a sexual nature, such as abuse , intimidation, groping, flashing men and rape. Most Police officers have trained Men & Women to investigate sexual crime and will prosecute.
The problem is however the law courts and of course the reporting of sexual crime in the newspapers. Often reported as the Woman dressed provactively or in some way brought the crime on themselves. Newspapers love the Titillation of these stories and in many cases the man is aquitted of any involvement or receives a reduced prison sentence.

inter4522 2 May 2011 - 6:14pm

They should made about this. This is not good for their culture at all. We have to make some changes with this.

Maria87 19 September 2010 - 9:41pm / Italy

I'm an italian girl and i live in Italy. Female image that you see in italian tv doesn't represent italian girls.
Italian girl aren't bitch. Italian girl study, go to the university, work. tv is sexist and represent sexist stereotypes. In Italy the female condition is terrible. Women are discriminated to job, politics and society. Tv is a smaller problem.Violence against women in italy is elevated. Homicides against the women have hight numbers. Rapes are tolerated by justice and society. Women do not denounce because shame. those which denounce to police a rape is considered to people like prostitute.
Who rapes o offends a woman often doesn't go to the prison. Mass-media talk of violence against women only when the author is a immigrant. Italian men are arrogant and sexist.
In italy a playful women expecially with male is considered like a bitch. I hope that life for english women is better.:((

kamran alfred 28 October 2010 - 8:25am / usa

wow italian men must be pussie hittin and raping females i dont know but thats sad. . . hope u find a nice guy whos not a bitch type like italian men . . ;)

vinod 28 September 2010 - 11:18am / india

Wow ! That is news to me..had thought Italy was a very open country as far as sex and showing affection in the open was concerned,never new woman were treated so bad .. its all thes politicans who ruin every country.its very sad.. Guess in india women are much more free and are protected to a certain degree..
regards
vinni

umberto 27 November 2009 - 10:41am / US
The thing that I know about Italy is that you see these kinds of scenes on Italian STATE television in all their major shows. This is standard fare. If there aren't at LEAST two super-hot girls near the show host and 20 more in bikini or some other revealing suits in the background, then the show is considered bad.
Selina 14 October 2009 - 12:08am
Good Day. The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them. Help me! It has to find sites on the: Treatment against hair loss. I found only this - hair loss treatment ratings. Provillus says you the best exception, washing as initially as oil of differences. A curative explanation of member, whether for pregnant or ester reaction drugs, or for dominant itchiness, refers fluoroquinolone drugs social for back and suggests shift. Best regards :-), Selina from Liberia.
anonymous 18 September 2009 - 8:42am
That thios sort of discussion still has to happen in the EU in 2009 is beyond belief
Asif Muchtar 18 September 2009 - 8:41am
With Berlusconi at the helm what do you expect?
Johnny Giles 18 September 2009 - 8:40am
If it sells it'll be on TV if it doesn't it won't - bottom line - no pun intended
Samy Johannsen 18 September 2009 - 8:39am
No wonder you remain anonymous - you are onbvioulsy a moron - the documentary maker is making exactly the point that you seek to make fun off. You are obvioulsy a man.
anonymous 18 September 2009 - 8:37am
All women as sex objects - nice thought
Tony Harding 16 September 2009 - 10:35am
I would like to have known the outcome of the telephone vote. It may have added to the case.
jasmin 8 September 2009 - 5:03am
You are right Hiram! This is what Lorella means: media has influenced the women to dress that way, which is not good. I am not labelling all men, perhaps you got it wrong, read again:''We do need to raise our voice against this exploitation by the menfolk(menfolk working in the media who show women models in this way) in media!'' I know, the women who dress like this attract unwanted attention. You will have to ask these women, why they dress so! And, Anonymous, beautiful women cannot pretend that they are not beautiful but they can dress gracefully and invite respect and admiration from men, which is a lot different from abusive attention, if they dress provocatively. I think that we all agree that women look more charming when they are gracefully dressed.
Anonymous 8 September 2009 - 3:28am
Should beautiful women pretend that they are not beautiful?
Hiram 7 September 2009 - 4:28pm
Jasmin stated: " It indeed has a bad impact on tender minds and the violence against women is increasing as boys/men see them as objects! We do need to raise our voice against this exploitation by the menfolk in media!".........Oh, women don't see men as objects? Violence is increasing as boys/men see them as objects. Wow, very sexist statement against men! Who exploits who? Walk out on the streets of any major or minor city in the world and a take an objective look at how women dress. A large percent of them are barely dressed and exposing themselves. Did a man dress them or did they dress themselves? Everyone dresses himself/herself for diferent reasons but I wonder how many of those millions of women dress in a scad manner for exploitation reasons? It does have a bad impact on tender minds and older minds. You grouped together men as a whole and made them sexist. All men aren't bad or some of them anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
jasmin 7 September 2009 - 12:57pm
Thanks Lorella for making this documentary about the exploitation of women. However, it's global problem. Even in India, the visual and print media is taking full liberties and is portraying women in bad light. The problem is that women models are vying with each other for this. It indeed has a bad impact on tender minds and the violence against women is increasing as boys/men see them as objects! We do need to raise our voice against this exploitation by the menfolk in media!

Post new comment

Please be reminded all comments must be in English, short and to the point - guideline 250 words. Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

RNW on Facebook

RNW Player

Video highlights

Ladies on the move
RNW is keen on featuring inspiring women in our target countries, women who...
What about men?
In many countries, men don't stick around to raise their children. This is...