The corruption of Italy

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.


What began in Italy is now manifest in the US and beyond, public discourse degraded into a sick tabloid fantasy, of sex, corruption, violence and lies. What began with Berlusconi continues with Trump and Weinstein. All are men in positions of power and of a now all-too-familiar type, who view women as chattels to serve their sexual lust and to puff up their fragile egos, and who then, later, try to cover up their crimes with bribery, threats and intimidation. The exploitation of women has been central to each of their paths to power. Weinstein used his company to hunt for prey. Trump used the Miss USA Pageant to gain power and influence in the business and media world.

Berlusconi showed them both the way. He corrupted Italy by degrees through a vast media empire that includes three national TV channels, Italy’s largest book and magazine publisher, Mondadori, and a daily newspaper, Il Giornale. Striscia la Notizia, a weekly TV show on Berlusconi’s Canale 5 featuring half-naked showgirls, makes a mockery of the news, yet it has been the highest-rated and most-watched TV show in Italy since the late 1980s.

Over time, the exploitation of women as mindless, unspeaking, submissive sex objects has proliferated across Italian TV. These images of women insinuated themselves into the subconscious of the nation, colonising the culture like a fungus and distorting the ambitions of young Italian women.

This, they were told, was how to be admired and to succeed: play dumb, be silent, act sexy. An object of desire without a voice. And Berlusconi was able to achieve this because, in Italy, women were already worth less than nothing, forced into one of two roles: the mother or the whore. Italy has long been sexist to the bone. Misogyny, it seems, is the rule of law, femicide a fact of life. In Italy, one woman is killed by a man every 60 hours. One out of every three women has been subjected in their lifetimes to some form of sexual violence. One in three!

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