Amazons with a Cause

Why are women first to pay for every crisis? In every society, capitalist, socialist, or transition? It's because the bodies of women are expendable.

I always noticed how women over eighty in Turin looked incredibly well, beautiful and loved and taken care of: desirable, because old and valuable. I connected this to Italy's long-established and sophisticated health care system. Italian hospitals were famous for methods which preserved the dignity of the patients, in tumor cures, especially breast cancer: the "invisible mastectomy" was invented in Milan. Rather than simply intervening in crisis, they were good at illness prevention and attentive follow-ups.

The economic crisis and financial harassment of Italy has reached this safe haven of health and dignity. In Turin, one of the best clinics for cure and prevention of breast cancer is about to be closed. The patients are on the streets, their appointments cannot be scheduled, they are paying for their urgent operations because their doctors cannot help them. The doctors are on the streets too.

Public health care in Italy was guaranteed as one of the basic human rights: without class race of gender discrimination. We are all equal in front of death.

The Valdesian hospital was founded by Italy's Protestant minority; it was about spirituality and charity rather than the global health market. However, the church passed the hospital to the state some years ago. They naturally assumed that it was in good hands, but as this tiny church is to the state, the state is to the market.

Although "Italy is not a brothel," as they said during the Berlusconi scandals, the flesh of women is negotiable by other means.

Protests, sit-ins and negotiations have failed to save the hospital. So last weekend, Turinese women decided to take action. They organized a public booth to photograph their breasts anonymously.

They plan to release an affresco of hundreds of their depersonalized female bodies, as a warning.

They are merely doing publicly what the hospital did less visibly.

Next step is the big demo planned for December first, to be followed by a sit-in for December 7th. On that day, the police are scheduled to shut physically the hospital.

It was a place of solace where women felt like respected human beings, and the attack on it has made them into Amazons with a cause.

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  1. What’s worse is that austerity will increase the economic crisis, not end it.  It’s like bleeding a cancer patient.

  2. So the hospital is being closed because someone hates women? It has nothing to do with the fact that Italy is bankrupt? 

    Seems to be the conclusion being drawn, and the post makes no effort to link to sources of additional information or context about the situation.

    1. That’s not what I got from it.  The admittedly sad lot of women (globally and historically, on average, not meaning that of anyone within a mile of me today) at first seemed to be the meme, but then I read this

      The patients are on the streets, their appointments cannot be scheduled, they are paying for their urgent operations because their doctors cannot help them. The doctors are on the streets too.

      Public health care in Italy was guaranteed as one of the basic human rights: without class race of gender discrimination. We are all equal in front of death.

      The Valdesian hospital was founded by Italy’s Protestant minority; it was about spirituality and charity rather than the global health market. However, the church passed the hospital to the state some years ago

      and it suddenly seemed to me that the people philosophically deserted the church, due to its ugly aristocracy, venal enforcement of the status quo, and immoral military adventuring, and now the people are deserting various corrupt post-WW2 governments for the same reason.  The powerful in Greece and Italy do not pay their taxes, and the taxes of the rest of the people no longer can pay the overhead imposed by the incompetence and greed of their governments.

      So I ended up with a whole different thought in my head, something about about the insidious banality of evil…

  3. Exactly.  The whole first paragraph is false (do all societies large numbers of their women to die on the front lines of a war? do any?), and it just runs from there.  It’s a pretty shoddy post.

  4. I’m hardly going to disagree with the statement that women get marginalized in all strata of society. Speaking as a self interested male however, I find it a little hard to swallow some of the rhetoric idly dropped at the beginning of this article “the bodies of women are expendable” rankled me.
    Its not the fact that women themselves are considered expendable but the reality that, in all aspects of our society, on some levels, ALL people have been considered to a degree expendable.

    Or are you unfamiliar with the concept of the ‘disposable male’; the idea that once he has provided financially, the role of the male is to risk his life and or die in protection of his wife and children.

    You’ve never heard the phrase ‘women and children first’?
    The very act of me daring to make this statement is doubtless likely to trigger whiteknighting, and accusations of misogyny. But the very people who make such a stance carefully overlook the countless examples where we, as a species AND a society have always played a two-pronged game, casting women as ‘victims’ incapable of their own agency in matters (falsely might I add), and at the same time, to a degree, placing their lives as of GREATER value to society than that of the male.

    Or was it women on the battlefields that won the societies we have today where women enjoy a democratic vote of equal value to any male? I’m not saying rescind the vote to them, but just a thought that, as a gender, they have been given freely something that countless have died to achieve.

    In truth, all over the world, there ARE countless examples…shocking, pitiful examples of women as victims of an indifferent society. However we should, in my humble opinion, approach this from a non-devisive humanist equalist view, rather than allowing ourselves to be divided by gender politics. If a woman isn’t receiving healthcare, its an indifference problem of society towards people, and a crime against all of us, not a crime against just women.

    Don’t get divided by identity politics. Its a distraction like the Australian accusations of sexism in parliament as a by a failing, unpopular, and ultimately equally against womens (and mens) rights government.

    1. Cry me a river, dude. 

      If anyone’s being divisive it’s you, by overlooking and/or minimizing patriarchal abuse of women. And by proportionally inflating the suffering of men.

      To talk about the sexist abuse of women is not the same thing as talking about the classist abuse of both men and women. And most girls are smart enough to do both; here’s hoping you are too.

      1. The issue for me (and apparently a number of other commenters) is whether this can honestly be classified as sexist abuse of women. A hospital providing vital services has to close due to the financial crisis. It’s tragic and in this case mainly affects women. Is there any evidence that the underlying issues are related to gender? This isn’t about hijacking a story about sexist abuse by bleating “what about us men?”, common though that may be. Making out that this is somehow about a war on women is misleading on the basis of the evidence presented in the article and just fuels animosity.

    2. You’ve never heard the phrase ‘women and children first’?

      You’ve never read all the news stories and histories about how, in real life, men pushed the women and children out of the way to save themselves?

      Or was it women on the battlefields that won the societies we have today where women enjoy a democratic vote of equal value to any male? I’m not saying rescind the vote to them, but just a thought that, as a gender, they have been given freely something that countless have died to achieve.

      Yeah, women all over the world have sat on the sofa eating bonbons while men did the fighting. All those “women” in protests in Tahrir Square or in Iran must really be men in drag.

      1. Not to mention all of those who have fought (and still fight) and died (and still die) to get the vote.

  5. Even though women are widely victimized, the author isn’t doing her cause any favors by leading off with such sweeping rhetoric. Every crisis, every society? The dead of WWI, were those mostly women, then? The victimhood bombast just distracts from the salient points in the article.

    1. Right, and I usually like Jasmina’s stuff on BB. I can only imagine her attitude comes from a sort of second-wave us-against-them gender-absolutism. It’s disappointing.

  6. 100% in support of those women, but the issue here (not that is not like that in many other instances, but here), is not “women are expendable”. Its “citizens are expendable”. Have money? You can live. Dont? Fuck you and die. Welfare State, where all of us contributed to achieve dignity for all and not allow one unlucky diagnosis to bring a person (or their whole family) to despair and bankrupcy? So last year, we are now in the Bank Welfare State.

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