I’ve been interviewed by Macleans, Canada’s foremost current affairs weekly about Carfagna and other women hand-picked by Berlusconi.
Not just a pretty face
How Berlusconi’s hand-picked women have become political powers (by Erica Alini)
(…) To understand Carfagna’s successful trajectory, one needs to look at both form and substance, said Italian political marketing consultant Marco Cacciotto. On entering politics, Carfagna traded hiked-up miniskirts for long tailored suits, but she was also able to deliver political results, Cacciotto said. Voters will happily forget—or forgive—a risqué past if a candidate is willing to put up an image of conservative decency, study the issues and show up at public meetings to listen to the plight of the proverbial “man on the street,” Cacciotto added. From Hollywood to Bollywood, he said, a past in show business often offers illustrious outsiders a shot at the top jobs without the unpleasantness of having to rise through the ranks. And, as the example of former California über-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger shows, even those who’ve previously exposed their bare buttocks to the public, as Carfagna did, might turn out to have what it takes.
In many ways, though, Carfagna is still struggling with the petty prejudice that has traditionally bogged down Italy’s women. If she succeeded in turning minds away from her pre-politics past, she hasn’t managed to make Italians forget that she’s beautiful—and beautiful women, local wisdom goes, rarely have brains. “It’s been two years now that people have been saying with surprise that she’s an intelligent woman,” said Italian TV talk-show host and public intellectual Gad Lerner. “It’s a form of near-racism.” The prejudice, it seems, crosses gender lines. “Minister Carfagna took out her speech and set out to read, very seriously,” said one female writer in the Corriere delle Sera—an example of how journalists of both sexes continue to refer to the minister more like a promising schoolgirl. (…)