A bronze statue depicting a scantily dressed woman from a 19th century poem has sparked a sexism debate in Italy, with some politicians calling for its removal.
The statue, unveiled over the weekend in the southern Italian town of Spari, portrays a woman in a transparent and tight-fitting dress with her right arm over her breasts to represent a female character from the poem “La Spigolatrice di Sapri” (The Gleaner of Sapri), written by Luigi Mercantini in 1857.
The poem is based on Italian revolutionary Carlo Pisacane’s failed expedition against the Kingdom of Naples, which led to 300 deaths.
Senator Monica Cirinnà said on Twitter that the statue was “a slap to history and to women who are still only sexualized bodies.”
Also on Twitter, Congresswoman Laura Boldrini called the statue “an offense to women and the history it should celebrate.”
“How can even institutions accept the representation of women as a sexualized body? Male chauvinism is one of the evils of Italy,” Boldrini said.
In a statement to call for the removal of the statue, a group of female politicians from the Palermo unit of the Democratic party said, “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.”
However, artist Emanuele Stifano defended his work on Facebook, saying that he was “shocked and displeased” by the criticisms.
Stifano explained that the statue was “to represent an ideal of a woman, evoke her pride, the awakening of a consciousness” and that it was approved by authorities.
Sapir Mayor Antonio Gentile also defended the statue on Facebook, saying that it “was made with mastery and impeccable interpretation.”
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