Italian Statue Sparks Sexism Row

Politicians say the statue is an offence to women.


A statue showing a woman dressed in a transparent dress from a 19th-century poem has sparked a sexism row in Italy. 

The statue was unveiled in the town of Sapri in southern Italy. 

The sculpture is based on the poem by The Gleaner of Sapri and was unveiled by former prime minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday. The woman is depicted wearing a transparent and tight-fitting dress, with her right arm placed over her breasts.

The sculptor is Emauele Stifano and the statue is a tribute to La Spigolatrice di Sapri (The Gleaner of Sapri), a poem written by Luigi Mercantini in 1857. The poem is based on the story of a failed expedition against the Kingdom of Naples by Carlo Pisacante. Pisacante was one of the first Italian socialist thinkers. 

The deputy with the center-left party Laura Boldrini said the statue is an "offence to women and the history it should celebrate." Boldrini wrote on Twitter: "But how can even the institutions accept the representation of a woman as a sexualized body?"

There have been calls from female politicians from the Democratic party's unit in Palermo to take the statue down. The group said in a statement that "once again, we have to suffer the humiliation of seeing ourselves represented in the form of a sexualized body, devoid of soul and without any connection with the social and political issues of the story."

The poem "The Gleaner of Sapri" plays an important part in Italian culture and is studied in Italian schools. It describes the real-life arrival of insurgents in Sapri in 1857, who attempted to raise support to overthrow the King, but were instead killed by the local population. The Gleaner character is a peasant woman who witnesses the arrival of the men.

The former Italian senator Manuela Repetti argued on Twitter that, "Yes, 'art is art,' but there is always an appropriate context to respect."


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