SO YOU THINK it’s bad that married congressmen have affairs or politicians make crude misogynistic jokes when they think the mike is off? You should live in Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire crook and playboy, reigns (I use the verb advisedly). If the Egyptians managed to oust Mubarak, why do the Italians seem unable to rid themselves of this bad joke of a leader? Perhaps it’s because he lives out male fantasies of virility, arrogance, and wealth.
The third richest man in Italy, he seems to think himself above the law—and, admittedly, over his three terms in office he has so far eluded a series of charges ranging from tax evasion to embezzlement to corruption. Perhaps more notorious is his ever sleazier social life: most recently, allegedly paying for sex with Ruby, an under-age night-club dancer (sex with a minor is a crime in Italy).
Prosecutors are moving against Berlusconi (he is also accused of abuse of office, trying to intervene with police when Ruby was arrested for theft). And there has been an upwelling in the streets as hundreds of thousands of women—and not a few men—in 60 Italian towns and cities marshaled anti-Berlusconi protests on Sunday, February 13. There were also demonstrations in Brussels, Madrid, Lisbon, Tokyo, Paris, Lyon, and Toulouse, BBC News reported. For a slide show, go to I especially like the photo of a cheerful white-haired woman whose forehead bears a Post-it calling for his resignation (“Berlusconi Dimissioni”). “Italy Is Not a Brothel,” “Enough!”, “If Not Now, When?” and “My Dignity Is Not for Sale” read some of the other signs.
Berlusconi has been indicted, and his trial, before an all-female panel—talk about poetic justice!—is set for April 6, my birthday. May the verdict be a gift to women worldwide.