Friday, October 16, 2009

The Ionesco Awards 2009

It's been two years since we've nominated any government officials for the Ionesco Awards, but this particular piece of news takes the cake of absurdity. Mara Carfagna, Italy's Equal Opportunities Minister, has called in her support of a bill that would ban the wearing of the burqa in Italy. Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi appointed Carfagna to her post in May 2008; her qualifications, beyond an undergraduate degree in law, include participation in the Miss Italia contest, acting, and topless modeling. A self-proclaimed "anti-feminist", Carfagna introduced last year a law criminalizing street prostitution, saying "I don't understand how someone can sell their body in the street for money." As the founder of the Italian Committee for the Rights of Prostitutes astutely noted, Carfagna's position was astounding given her history of earning money by posing nude.
(IntLawGrrl Diane Marie Amann's 2008 post on the appointment of Carfagna and other women to his Cabinet foreshadowed these developments.)
Ironically, in her position as Equal Opportunities Minister, Carfagna has also opposed gay pride marches, claiming that LGBT folks no longer suffer discrimination in Italy and noting her opposition to gay marriage. So it is particularly interesting now to see her using the language of equal rights to support a ban on the burqa and the niqab, which she claims are "symbols of the submission of women and obstacles to integration." Carfagna adds, "There is no room for traditions, mentalities and religions where women are treated as inferiors." In other words, Carfagna's vision of equality protects traditions and mentalities that ask women to show as much skin as possible, but not those that require women to show as little skin as possible. Eugene, we have a winner.

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