Why this story matters:
The question whether this development is a step forward in female emancipation is controversial. On the one hand, it is doubtless a positive sign that a woman -- regardless of what we think of her political agenda -- secures such a high position, which, until now, was accessible only to men.
Not long ago, misogynistic prejudice led some people to believe that women should not be judges because their judgment was not reliable during menstruation.
Even if such superstitions are still present in popular culture, the election of Casellati is a proof that times have changed.
But women are not always supporters of progressive politics.
Their presence in areas that were usually the prerogative of men is therefore not necessarily a victory for women, nor will translate into more women-friendly policies.
The career of Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati is emblematic of this problem. A long-time supporter of Berlusconi, she opposes gay marriage, voluntary abortion and euthanasia.
It seems that we should let go of the illusion that female politicians are any different than male. There are women who support reactionary, conservative politics and defend the patriarchal society (which would gladly take away their positions -- a blatant paradox). And then there are men who advocate feminist, progressive and women-friendly policies.
Details from the story:
- On March 24, Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, senator of Forza Italia, was elected president of the Italian Senate, as the first woman in history.
- It is the second most important office in the country. In the event of impeachment, Casellati would take over the duties of the President of the Republic.
- The office also plays a central role in the formation of the government. If an agreement concerning the future Prime Minister is not reached (which is likely), the President of the Republic will give Casellati the right to to establish the so-called "institutional" government.
- Senator Casellati is known for her reactionary and conservative views. She was also one of the most strenuous defenders of Berlusconi during his trial.