Despite the “killer” wind we experienced last week (yesterday, at Magliano, the funeral of Sauro, who was killed by a flying boulder at the height of the storm,), despite the fact that for days (and still today for some like us) communication lines were down and there was no electricity, despite the fact that urgent work needed to be done by thousands of families just to make sure that what remained of their roofs was safe from further falling tiles and possible infiltration, international women’s day was celebrated with absolute élan in Bagni di Lucca’s casinò yesterday afternoon.
The mayor (whose own historic house above the Farmacia Inglese was damaged) contributed a speech and so did other local notables and organizers in the beautiful Sala dei Gigli which fortunately, with the rest of the casinò did not suffer significant damage.
The event was an absolute tour de force. There seemed to be an instinctive organization at work which got round the breakdown of electricity cables, phone lines, cell-phone grids and internet webs.
The result was splendid. The entrance to the exhibition had its visitors’ book filled and poems were offered by Mara (a well-produced book with three items translated beautifully by Grapevine editor Norma jean Bishop). Silvia and I also produced poems for the special day.
The main salon was filled with paintings and some sculpture selected with care and displaying an amazing variety of techniques and subjects. It would be difficult to point out particular ones as outstanding but certainly I was pleased at the inclusion of good artists who had never exhibited there before. For example, a former English student of mine who’d I always thought as an art restorer brought some exquisite pictures, and the world-renowned lithographer, Krascina, was represented by two examples of his unique technique.
In the next room there was a photographic section, again of the highest quality with wonderfully caught aspects of woman at different stages of their lives and in different parts of the world. I was particularly taken by the variety of faces and textures here.
Of immediate appeal to anyone interested in former ways of life in our valley was the room dedicated to old furniture, fabrics clothes and fittings. Beautiful Victorian-era beds, carved furniture, ingenious toiletry items and ornately decorated fabrics combined to make this room a veritable museum exhibit which could have quite easily become a part of the so-much wished for museum of past life and times in Bagni di Lucca.
The main salon was later fitted out efficiently with tables and chairs and turned into a dining hall where I was able to meet the organisers, the artists and the donors in a very convivial atmosphere.
Yet behind the enjoyable atmosphere there must have lurked a thought in the minds of all present that, although, legally, the equal rights of women with men is affirmed in the United Nations declaration of human right the actual situation on our planet Earth, (which significantly in Italian and so many other languages has a word feminine in gender as if to further emphasise the nurturing, caring, conserving role of women in societies throughout the world), is so very different.
On London’s tubes last month I noted adverts encouraging people to wear “the ring against child marriage”, doctors in that part of the world are sometimes prosecuted for carrying out FGMs, female infanticide is rife in countries such as India, women are still not allowed to drive a vehicle in some countries and have to be chaperoned everywhere, the denial to education for girls has been eloquently described by the young Nobel prize winner whose life was very nearly taken away from her, feminicide is still on the increase in many western countries, including Italy where, on average, two women are killed by their male partners every three day. The horrifying list could go on and on: public stoning to death of married women accused of forbidden loves in some countries, (so much so that that quip in one “Yes Minister” episode, where the difference between western and middle eastern women was defined by the minister for administrative affairs as being: “in the middle east they first commit adultery and then get stoned whereas in the west they first get stoned and then commit adultery”, no longer seems as funny as it did at the time).
Yesterday was international woman’s day but, as one friend said to me, every day should be women’s day, every day should be a day where women’s rights to be themselves, free from male indoctrination, male threats, male justification, male raw power, male induced ideologies of subordination, (even to the point where the Fanny Mendelssohns and Clara Schumanns of a previous century were discouraged from composing after marriage so as not to dismay their more “famous” family members), blatant inequality, of opportunity and all those things that go with it, need to be remembered every minute of every day in every year.
Even that stupid ethno-centric anthropological-sociological argument in favour of relative so-called cultural values needs to be nipped in the bud. There is no species difference among all members of Homo sapiens sapiens, only intolerable differences of discrimination which apply to everyone with they be Bantus Bolivians or Belgians.
Women’s international day in Bagni di Lucca will last another week at the casinò which is to be filled with many events, concerts, discussions and debates. Keep a look out on the posters and you’ll be sure to find something of appeal whether it be a harp and poetry recital of a cookery class.