ROME, April 1- Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's billionaire politician, has again surrounded himself in controversy, this time advising a 24-year-old Italian woman that the path to success is to marry a rich man.
The comments, made on 12 March and broadcasted throughout the country, has created divisions through Italy, leaving some outraged, some amused, and some a bit desperate. Dr. Lucia Aiello, a professor at JCU, said that Berlusconi’s quip left her feeling “humiliated”.
What did Berlusconi say?
On March 12 during a campaign stop, Berlusconi told Perla Pavoncello, “As a father, my advice to you is to find someone like a son of Berlusconi who has no problems [with money]. With a smile like yours, you can do it.”
To Aiello, this comment showcased Berlusconi’s “inability to offer or even describe adequate prospects to young people and in particular to young women.” Walter Veltroni, mayor of Rome and Berlusconi's opponent in the upcoming national elections, called this comment ”insensitive”.
But others, including
Pavoncello herself, saw the humor in Berlusconi’s answer. “I took
the joke well”, she later said with a smile and a promise to vote
for him. And, still others apparently regard Berlusconi’s advice as an invitation.
“You may not know, but my son received more than 360 [text messages] with offers of marriage,” Berlusconi told reporters a week after his previous comment. “One girl even sent a photo of herself in a wedding dress.”
A look at labor statistics in Italy, and the joke begins to wear thin. According to the European Industrial
Relations Observatory, less than half of Italy's female population was employed in 2006.
A full in-box of marriage proposals understandable; the scarcity of long-term contracts combined with a shaky job market
has young women in Italy facing a worrisome future.
Despite the obstacles facing
future female generations, Aiello cautions them not to settle. “Italian
young women deserve better options than just Berlusconi's son!,” she wrote in an email interview with “The Matthew Online”.
Whether or not young women will get what they deserve remains to be seen. They head to the polls on April 13 and 14.