Tuesday, 25 February 2014

the slimy pigsty

It's one of those days when I don't really have lunch: I've been quite busy, I already know it's going to get even busier, and I can't bother going outside, so I just ate my lunch in the office. And, since I was having my break, I also took some time to go and read at some blogs.
You will need to use Google translate for this one, as Berenice posted it in Italian.
She starts declaring she didn't plan for a militant feminist post in the blog; I believe her, but I also suspect she was quite naive for that: if you're a woman, if you're working, if you're Italian or if you're the combination of the three conditions stated above, there's no way to avoid episodes like the one she talks about. She can vent out her frustration to the net, on her blog: she writes very well, but I guess it's not consolation if you know you're relating something so deeply unfair.

She talks about her workplace, about this group of women she works with and this colleague of theirs, "the little man".
He is the perfect prototype of the chauvinist pig.
He's slimy, fake, vile, the kind of person that looks at the tits when he speaks to a woman, just because it's easier than staring at her ass. Cause he's the kind of person that thinks a woman is just a pair of boobs and a backside to stare at.
He's the kind of arrogant asshole that has no problem harassing a female colleague.
He's the kind of spineless lackey that will go and hide behind his boss back when things get though: he knows he can do it, because his boss is no better than him.

He's probably that kind of hypocrite mediocre Ital-idiot that will go ballistic if anybody dare to say the same things he says to his mother or sister.

To be fair with little man, that I renamed in my head as "slimy pig", I bet he's also quite frustrated: "happily married", I'm pretty sure he'd never dare to say the same things he tells his colleagues to his wife. He's probably bended all over when it comes to his wife: "you're right, honey", "of course, I'll do as you asked", "yes, I was wrong, I realized how stupid I am".

Judging by what I see going on in Italy, it's fair to say slimy pig is not alone: actually, judging by the average behaviors I've been seeing around, the type of conversation I hear and overhear, it's fair to state that Italy is a pigsty.

I've been wearing a new skirt for the past two days. It doesn't happen that often: working in an engineering office with no contacts what-so-ever with the outer word means I got no dress code to follow. I could probably show up dressed as a Stormtrooper and it'd be fine (although quite uncomfortable to sit on the underground): my standard office outfit is normally made of comfy jeans and funny t-shirtst quite like it.
Wearing a skirt is so unusual that even my otherwise very engineer-y colleagues, otherwise oblivious to the rest of the world, notice it. To top it off, today I was also wearing high-heels and had make-up on.
None of them dared to ask, but I could read the unspoken question on their face: is she going for an interview?
But no, I don't plan of going for an interview any time soon at all, I just wanted to dress up nicely. I looked quite smart, I could have pulled off going to work downtown and looked as if I fit in with the trendy crowd over there.

What does it have to deal with what Berenice wrote? Well, I worked till late, left the office and walked to the metro station: that's where it started. Because obviously, if you're a woman in skirt and heels walking by herself in the outskirt of Milan when the sun has set, then you must be a prostitute. Or somebody "that's looking for it".

On the way to the station there is a bar: I've been walking in front of it every fucking day for the last year and an half. There are always the same pathetic retired people drinking in the evening. I recognize their face, they recognize me. I will see them again tomorrow evening and do you think this was enough to stop the whistling, the "jokes" as I walked by?
I was about to stop: when man, that looked just one or two year older than my dad, shouted out loud for his friends and for me to hear: "Man, she must truly be looking for it", I wanted to stop and ask him what "it" was; but it was late, I was tired and hungry and I kept going.

Got on the train, I sat down, start reading a book, I didn't immediately notice the guy sitting in front of me. But after a little it became impossible not to notice him, as he started addressing me, telling me I must be looking for somebody if I was showing my legs like that.
He was looking at me the same way Berenice's colleague looks at woman.

I stared right back and told him that what I am looking for was nowhere to be found in things like him and asked him if his mother was wearing a burka by any chance or if she was still looking.
He got upset, obviously: mums are sacred to men, you don't talk about them. He started insulting me even more loudly than before and got off at the following station, not before telling me I was the typical slut, etc. etc. and that I should just fuck off.

Was it embarrassing? Yes, it was.
Deeply embarrassing. Not that much for me. Not even that much for him; he's just like the slimy pig Berenice has to endure in the office: unluckily for him, for me and everybody around, he has not the intelligence or culture to understand on the whole.

I found it deeply embarrassing for the other people sharing my same coach. The kid with the guitar standing on my right looked away. The man in his 50s sitting next to me discovered the tip of his shoes were extremely fascinating.
Nobody stepped in. Nobody defended me. Nobody showed any solidarity with me during or after the altercation.

He assaulted me verbally and nobody cared.
I'm trying to stop the tears of anger spilling from my eyes, but I know that if I were to be attacked physically they wouldn't have cared either. They would have looked the other way. After all, some of them might even end up thinking, a woman wearing a skirt must be looking for it, a woman speaking her mind must be reminded what's her place in this society. Welcome to Italy, 21st century.


  1. Hi, here's Berenice! First of all thank you for giving me voice in English and sorry for my bad English. I'm so sorry for what happened to you, you must have been scared and worried when you understood that nobody would have helped you from the verbal attack of that guy. Typical Italian hypocrisy. I can't bear this culture anymore, the "beauty" of Mediterranean culture. And do you know what I hate most? On 8th March all these macho pig colleagues bring you mimosas. It's like begging respect.

  2. Mi sale su una rabbia quando leggo di episodi come questo. Le mimose (fiore orrendo) se le possono mettere dove non batte il sole. Un abbraccio.