“Feminism Is a Revolution, Not a Public Relations Movement.”

Gloria Steinem, the leader of the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s, will forgive me if I borrow one of her thoughts as the title of this post. I don’t know if she would agree with my tiny project (if she knew about it): probably it’s not militant enough, but I firmly believe in the value of speaking one’s mind with honesty, no matter what. She would certainly agree with this week’s guest blogger’s take on life, self-perception and society. I’m very happy to host her on my blog, because she is the quintessence of what being witty and smart means. She’s Giovanna from Cagliari, whose nickname – Velvetuzi – says it all: she’s an iron fist in a velvet glove, one of the most evocative images about strong will and femininity ever.

* What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I usually link it to the loss. When you lose someone or yourself, when you lose faith in what you’ve always believed, when you lose freedom, control, identity, you become miserable until you find something else, someone new, new meanings to that loss or, at least, new ways to deal with it. Then it’s all about finding the strength to cope and learn from that misery. If you deal with that loss and you learn you’re not stuck anymore. Finding and learning are the first steps to the rise. 

* What is your idea of earthly happiness?
I know it could sound mushy but I think the best way to reach any kind of happiness is loving and being loved and, of course, rocking in a free world.

* Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Tough choice! I’ll pick a few:
Legs Weaver which is a Bonelli Comics character inspired to Ellen Ripley (another rockin’ chick) because she’s independent, beautiful, funny and you can’t mess with her.
– Jo March of Little Women because she’s not the prettiest sister but still she’s the main character. When you read the book as a little girl, you start thinking that maybe the winning one is not always the best looking but the one who can read. It was an important lesson for me.
– Scarlett O’Hara. She’s awfully annoying at the beginning. Then she grows and we find out how strong this vapid girl can be. I love the fact she keeps on making mistakes and falling down just for rising up again.
– Beatrix Kiddo from Kill Bill I and II. The saga starts with this woman almost beaten to death, in a coma, nothing of her life is left. She wakes up, fights, finds out there’s so much to live for (first it seems just a revenge, than it turns out she’s got something bigger to fight for) and finally she wins back herself. Tarantinian Girl Power! 

* Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
Any woman who stays true to herself and maintains her dignity. You wouldn’t tell if you read front pages of Italian newspapers or if you watch Italian TV but it’s full of brilliant true girls of any age out there. And they’re smarter and better looking than the bodies you see on advertising spaces.

* What is your most vivid memory of the 90s (from music, fashion, politics, culture)?
Oh, the 90’s! I was a young teenager with baggy cargo pants, an XXL hooded sweater (courtesy of my dad’s closet) and Adidas Gazelle (or Campus) shoes. My body was freaking me out with all that chest growing and hormonal helter-skelter so I used to feel better with male clothes on and I didn’t wear any make up . I was an huge Faith No More fan (I am still) and I used to read Nathan Never comics with my portable cd player on & loud waiting for the bus.
I was fascinated by fashion but it was still an embryonic phase. I saw the making of a fashion shooting for a Valentino campaign featuring Claudia Schiffer (it was 1994) on TV  and I felt so ugly compared to her. I also remember I wrote an article for my junior high school journal about Jacqueline Kennedy Bouvier’s death (I adored Jackie) and no one read it ‘cause no one ever really cared about that little journal anyway but I was proud to write something anyone could possibly read.
I had my grunge fashion moments, as well, thanks again to my dad’s closet full of flannen shirts, I learnt to translate from Ancient Greek and I kissed a boy for the first time. We were both so embarrassed I had to tell a dirty joke in order to relieve that weird tension. He laughed and I thought he was cute.
The 90’s were my teen-era. It was good but thank God it’s over. As Stephen King says: “If you liked being a teenager, there’s something really wrong with you”.

* What does “feminism” mean to you?
I hate that word. It means to me there’s a need to fight against someone (XY) who believes my sexual cromosomes (XX) make my brain less operational which is, biologically, pure bullshit.
At the same time, I’m really grateful to every feminist who fought for me to express loud this feeling of mine (and making me have rights to vote and to divorce and so on) and I’m sorry we’re still debating about lack of women rights today in 2011. Women are subdued in many countries, this means a big thinking potential is left in a coma and that’s a shameful pity both for those women and for whole mankind. I can’t help but thinking how many inspired female doctors, scientists, engineers, artists we’re missing…
In Italy we’re facing a different kind of problem with all these girls forgetting where their brain is but perfectly remembering where their external genitals are. These girls are responsible for this new chauvinistic wave just as their paying lovers.

* Have you ever given an active contribution to the feminist cause?
I firmly believe my strongest help to the cause would be trying to keep my dignity, working hard, showing in a pratical way my sexual chromosome do not affect my neuronal connections. If something unfair happens, I’m telling out loud and clear.

* Have you ever experienced sexism?
Yes. I work in a scientifical environment and it happens (as in many other fields, I guess). I don’t care too much, I speak my mind and keep doing my thing. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying I try to work harder even if I feel it’s unfair sometimes. I often experience failure but complaining won’t make it easier.

* The quality you most admire in a man?
Dignity, integrity, intelligence, capacity to love.

* The quality you most admire in a woman?
Dignity, integrity, intelligence, capacity to love.

* What is your motto?
I don’t have one but I love all Albert Einstein’s quotes. They’re true and brilliant!

* What is the object that represents you most?
My pc, my books, what I wear.

* Who would you have liked to be?
A better version of myself or Lara Croft.

* Could you put your identity (for example, student/journalist/clerk or whatever) into a few key words?
Curious, passionate, bad temper but ready to say sorry, control freak, sci-fi lover, hungry for new stuff to learn, sometime clumsy, not perfect and trying to deal with it.

* How do you imagine your identity changing in ten years? Or twenty?
I hope I’ll be an improved woman. I’ve understood I don’t give a damn about a climbing-to-the-top career so I don’t see myself fighting for this, I’m not competitive enough.
I’d love to be very good in what I do and love and be loved by my dear ones. And improve my kung fu skills even if it is a long path as my sifu says. Well, I hope to have time to walk it.

When I asked Giovanna to give her contribution to my project, she immediately accepted and I’m so glad she did. Her enthusiasm and humbleness struck me: she told me she was honoured to be part of it, but she also felt that maybe she couldn’t keep up with all the gorgeous ladies who had previously contributed. She was, of course, wrong, because You’ve Got No Reason Not to Fight is not about setting standards but, on the contrary, tries to give women the chance to speak about topics often dismissed as boring, annoying or useless, but that are part of our lives!

Giovanna and I share the same opinions about many topics (Italian politics included), so I really hope her questionary can serve as an eye-opener for foreign readers about what being an assertive woman in Italy means.

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2 comments

  1. I have only recently started to follow the SarDorialist and it’s great to have a chance to get to know who’s behind it!
    I completely agree with Giovanna’s remarks on the Italian backlash and the responsibility some women have in it.
    Reading “You’ve Got No Reason Not to Fight” makes me feel i’m not alone, so, and forgive me for being repetitive, I can only thank Giovanna for answering and you, Terry, for publishing.

    1. The SarDorialist is a great blog, smart, funny and incredibly witty, I just love it!

      You know you’re not alone, Chiara. I feel the same as you, and Giovanna perfectly describes this feeling on this post: Italian fashion bloggers seem to live on a distant island and they NEVER write about what is happening in our country. They’re not supposed to leave bags and giveaways behind to write a political essay, but – as women – they should speak their mind about the objectification of women in our society. One cannot just pretend nothing’s wrong and wait for others to stand up, in my opinion.

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