On election day, Georgia Meloni appeared to find a way to defy the rules by demanding that candidates stop all campaigning. The Italian far-right leader posted a video of herself on social media holding two melons in front of her chest while winking at the camera and saying: “September 25 [voting day]I have said everything. Meloni means melon in Italian, and is also slang for breasts.

For those who found the clip disgusting, the sexual imagery was another sign that Meloni would not be carrying the torch for feminists as prime minister. Others were surprised by the sudden shift in style from the head of the Brothers of Italy, who had made being a woman and mother central to her campaign, but she admitted it was a clever way to show voters how to make her smile. If the humor comes from a more masculine culture.

After the election was won by a coalition led by the Brothers of Italy, which has neo-fascist roots, Meloni’s spokesman said Meloni was simply a play on the surname Meloni, and Meloni was a play. The 45-year-old was “uncomfortable” and “out of touch” with being “a woman against women”.

Melons aside, part of Meloni’s appeal to her voters is that she is a strong woman and the only one who has brought the Italian party to power against powerful men, namely her coalition partner – Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader. The right-wing party League and Silvio Berlusconi, a three-time former prime minister who leads Forza Italia.

Meloni does not describe herself as a feminist, instead saying she is against “pink quotas” and that roles should be obtained by merit, not gender. She illustrates this point by claiming that hers is the only party that includes many women in leadership positions.

“Not only do we have the first female prime minister, but we also have a large number of women elected to parliament,” said Lavinia Menuni, an Italian councilor in Rome who was elected senator from her constituency. Rival leftist leader Emma Bonino among the feminists who fought to legalize abortion in Italy in the 1970s.

“But to be honest, it’s not about whether Meloni is a woman – she’s just a good leader, who is determined and consistent. We need to stop giving feminist labels to everything.”

Giorgia Cerrugetti, a sociologist at the University of Milan-Bicocca who writes about women’s issues, said Meloni’s victory for the right was not about “celebrating women” but about a person who “made it”.

“She has no language when it comes to women’s struggles and no desire to be a role model,” Cerrugetti said.

Georgia Meloni in December 2018. Photo: NoorPhoto/Getty Images

Monica Sirina, a politician from the center-left Democratic Party (PD), became an icon for Italy’s LGBTQ+ community in 2016 after she drafted a law allowing civil unions. She said leadership needs to be “earned,” and Maloney has earned it. Her role.

There was an outcry in August after the PD leader, Enrico Letta, chose Sirina as his senatorial candidate, but she was likely to lose in one constituency. Sirina was also angry but decided to run despite being encouraged by her supporters even though she knew she would lose.

“He put me in a lost constituency, essentially saying I am no longer powerful for the party,” Sirina said. “Let’s just say he wanted more agreeable people; I am tough and don’t give up easily.”

While the PD has kept women in ministerial roles while in government, Sirina has criticized the party, saying that elected women are always “chosen by men” and that they “annoy” women who “speak freely” like herself.

Cirinnà argues that voters recognize and welcome women who have the freedom to speak freely and pursue their political path, which is attractive to Meloni supporters, even if she echoes the macho culture.

Luisa Rizzitelli, a woman and LGBTQ+ rights campaigner, was also offered to run as a PD senator but turned it down after realizing she would be in a constituency guaranteed to lose.

“It was just about image [of having a woman in the running],” she said. “The really big problem with the left is that they just relegate women to ‘second tier’ instead of putting us in leadership roles that really empower us.”

Rizzitelli said that Meloni’s melon video was a clever way for her to present humor, while also expressing masculine values. “The brothers in Italy understand very well that women can be good at this – if Meloni had any feminist values, they would never have let her get this far.”

However, the lack of those values ​​warrants turning back the clock on women’s rights, Meloni’s opponents say.

Meloni has said she has no plans to repeal Italy’s abortion law, but she does intend to limit abortions, such as giving women financial support for pregnancies rather than terminations. Thousands of women demonstrated in Italy on Wednesday evening to defend abortion rights.

Meloni’s agenda is also unlikely to favor special treatment for women in the workplace.

“Certainly we will go back on women’s rights because Meloni does not deny her far-right culture, which has always believed that women should behave in a certain way and should only be given a certain amount of freedom,” Sirina said. .

“Therefore [mandatory] pink quota [in corporate boards] – I want us to overcome this measure as well, but until it becomes normal to see women in positions of power in Italy, the pink quota is necessary.

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