Dear New York Times,
I’m sorry to say, but this time you messed up. Last week, in the op-ed online edition — the edition open to external contributions which are subject to your control — you published an article by an Italian journalist entitled “The Failure of Italian Feminism.” This article discusses how Asia Argento has been treated in Italy after she denounced the harassment and violence inflicted on her by Harvey Weinstein.
The piece is so superficial that I will call the author only by her initials, G.S., for two reasons. On one hand, I don’t want to publicize it; on the other hand, because the central point of this issue is the content that you have endorsed by publishing it.
Since the op-ed section is a space dedicated to opinions, one might object that everyone is free to think and say whatever one wants, but it is one thing to do it at a sports bar or during dinner among friends, it is another thing to publish it under the name of an authoritative media organization, as you are.
After dancing between commonplace information and inaccuracies (that we are still a male-oriented and sexist country which only absolves the victims of violence if they kill themselves like Santa Maria Goretti did, none of the daily newspapers are directed by women and there are no spaces for female writers) it says that Argento has been mostly attacked by women on social media. [Editor’s note: Il manifesto is directed by a woman, and we routinely publish several female writers on the front page.]
This apparently demonstrates the failure of Italian feminism, which is presented as a gang of fanatics who fight only for the interests of their friends and not for those who really suffer, just as the mafia does with its entourage.
Now, I understand that in the U.S. you have some prejudices about Italian issues, but this comparison of feminism to the mafia should have raised flags.
The best answer to such a reading was given by Asia Argento herself, who reacted immediately with a post saying: “I’m sorry, but you have chosen the wrong journalist to talk about the failure of Italian feminism.”
And in confirmation of her words, she published some tweets that G.S. had personally posted in the last month about Weinstein and his victims.
Here are a few: “I thought of a Weinstein piece in a single line: He may be an old lewd man, but you gave him the means, as long as you thought it would help you.”
“Let’s try for a moment to put ourselves in the fragile psyche of those who need to remind us: ‘Look, they’ve done it to me, too.’”
And more: “I don’t know how to say this but the subtext ‘by the way, did you know what nice ass I have’ is quite evident whenever you bring up your harassment.”
In short, it turns out that the one who used your newspaper to accuse Italian women of being the worst accusers against Argento and blamed the Italian feminists as being a mafia was at the same time conducting herself the same way on social media. She accused the actresses molested by Weinstein of being his accomplices, that the complainants are weak-minded or that their true intent was to let the world know they have a nice ass.
At this point, dear New York Times, we ask you the same question that Asia Argento asked you: How can a person who has written these kind of tweets speak of the failure of Italian feminism?
We add a request.
Next time, before writing something on the subject, seek out the groups, associations, libraries and circles that every day for years have worked on women’s policy issues here. Talk to those who study, practice, write about and discuss feminism.
That being said, if G.S. really wanted to understand the feminism of her compatriots better, she too would find many open doors.
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