Cagne, zoccole e troie: slut-shaming in Italy By MapleLeafMamma.com

I’ve talked about Italy’s crap ranking when it comes to the treatment of women on here once or twice.It’s abysmally low and every two days, TWO DAYS, a woman is beat to death by her husband or boyfriend here. Italian women are fighting a long upward battle to be regarded as something other than a nice piece of ass, baby factory, or personal chef. The role of a proper Italian woman is a bizarre dichotomy that is nearly impossible to explain in one post. Italian culture has long embraced the “sexy” and “fire cracker” ideal woman in the likes of many Sophia Loren roles but there is also a strong influence from the Catholic church and other conservative influencers that shames women for being sexual. I read a study a few years ago that said that over fifty percent of interviewed women only had sex with their husbands because it was an obligation but not because they enjoyed it. Clearly, Italy is a little behind much of the first world when it comes to women’s sexual freedom.

I came across this article today and I had to share it. It’s brilliant and so relevant not only to expats in Italy who want to raise their kids not to SUCK but for people everywhere both men and women alike.

“Hopefully this grassroots shift will start teaching Italians that you can like sex and be a feminist too, seeing as they seem to commonly mistake feminism for prudish moralismo. And believe me, I get how much more attractive it is to side with the sexual freedom fighters if you’re faced with a ridiculous false binary like this. Especially because Italians have this gift for making sex appreciation verge on the holy. There is something intoxicating about it if you aren’t sexually repressed. As I’ve mentioned before, I discovered how to celebrate my feminine side here, and it felt wonderful. The shitty, confusing and ultimate paradox for women in Italy is how we are at once raised on a pedestal and made to feel like second-class citizens.”

To Read The Full Article: Cagne, zoccole e troie: slut-shaming in Italy

 

Happy One Year Anniversary To My “Italian Stallion”

Dear Francesco (My “Italian Stallion” (seriously, who says that in all seriousness?) Husband).

I cannot believe we’ve been married for one year. That shit just flew by and it has me thinking that you’ll be in a diaper soon enough. I’ll take care of you and hire someone to give you a sponge bath and all of that because that’s the kind of wife that I am.

I’m so happy that I was drunk that night that we met and that I picked you out of the crowd. Despite the fact that you are SO ANNOYING ALL THE TIME you are my best friend and I’m so happy that you asked me to marry you. It was the best decision I ever made. Okay, it’s one of the two best decisions. The OTHER good decision I just made like five minutes ago when I found a circus fitness class online and signed up! I am going to be the first drunk aerial gymnast and you’re going to be so proud!

Ti Amo.

For your “paper” gift I made a list of things that I’ll do to be a better wife this coming year:

15 Ways I’ll Try To Be A Better Wife To You

1. I will talk about Oliver less. I know it’s annoying that when I’m bored and I have nothing to say I tell a funny story about Oliver that you’ve already heard 3,000 times.

2. I will shower every day. Mostly.

3. This kind of goes with number 2, but I’ll also try to change out of my sweat pants before you come home from work.

4. I will try to sleep before 4 a.m. and watch less back to back True Blood in bed while you are trying to sleep.

5. I’ll try to avoid bringing up the fact that you were a super nasty Italian whore before I met you. After this time, I really will.

6. I will do nice things for you more often. I know I should try harder and making coffee once per month after you ask me and I roll my eyes is not really that nice.

7. When we go to the center of Florence I will try really hard not to drag you into stores for window shopping. In return I’ll expect you to at least entertain me somewhat. Or, let me annoy other people. I can’t just walk around civilized, it’s asking too much.

8. Sometimes you can win an argument. I know I’m gifted in the area of debate and it’s not nice to ALWAYS WIN so I’ll let you win at least one in three arguments from now on. You’re welcome!

9. I’ll try to ask you less “what if” questions. I know that it weirds you out when we’re both on your bike and I ask, “what if I fell off of the back and hit my head and had brain damage and I forgot who you were?” or, “What if we were doing it and I became possessed by a demon? Would you finish or run away?” I can’t promise to stop but I’ll reduce it to once or twice per day.

10. When you’re frustrating me I will do my best not to snake bite you. Though, sometimes I can’t control him. Frank the snake doesn’t always listen but I’ll try. Maybe you could also try to piss him off less.

11. When you put desserts in the fridge I will leave you some next time. Unless it’s rose gelato. Then game is on.

12. I will do my YOuTube Opera videos while you’re at work since you don’t seem to appreciate my voice or epic tenacity when it comes to learning how to scream in tempo.

13. I’ll try really, really hard to put my clothes in the wardrobe instead of piling them on top of my dresser. I cannot promise anything in this department but I will do my best.

14. I promise to keep loving you in spite of yourself and I won’t stab you with a fork even if I REALLY, REALLY want to. Because not stabbing someone with a fork is true love and commitment.

15. When you ask me to do something like cook or clean I’ll try not to say things like, “You can do it or does your penis stop you from being a functional human being?” Instead I’ll say, “No.” And then I’ll hug you.

WEEE Marriage!

WEEE Marriage!

Tiny And Deadly: New “Sexy” Mosquitos Can’t Be Trusted

While most of us in the western world think of mosquitos as being a simple pest, the rest of the world is terrified of them. The small insect has been credited with being one of the most dangerous creatures in the world and not surprisingly it’s a title that the nasty little things have earned. It’s bad enough that they are gross, itchy, and annoying, but they also have the ability to spread fatal diseases to both human and animal alike. Where mosquitos flourish so do diseases such as Malaria, Yellow Fever, West Niles Virus, and even Heart-worm, a parasitic infection that is often fatal to dogs.

Since Malaria was mostly wiped out in Europe decades ago, Europeans haven’t had to worry about disease carrying mosquitos for a while, however, they are no longer able to live carefree among the demon insects. The Asian Tiger

Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopicts, beginni...

Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopicts, beginning its blood-meal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mosquito was found in Italy in 1990 and despite it’s sexy stripes, can transmit up to twenty-two diseases, which is even more than all of the red-light workforce in Amsterdam. Since 1990 five more species of disease carrying mosquitos have been found in Europe. In response, The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm has released guidelines for “mosquito surveillance” in hopes to stop the pests from traveling further north though researchers are worried that containing the problem will prove to be difficult. Experts believe that globalization and the international tire business is allowing the dangerous insects to travel further than they would normally go. Basically, the mosquitos are hitching a ride with corporations throughout the continent.

It does not take long to notice the mosquito problem in Florence. The Arno, the cobblestone and regular rainfall are the main culprits. Mosquitos lay eggs in pools of water and even the tiniest little pool is adequate for them to breed. In this past week I’ve learned a lot about these tiny creatures, for example I’ve learned that only female mosquitos feed on blood. The male mosquitos dine on nectar and pass on the icky stuff. Ever wondered why some people get bit more than others? According to research, it’s because mosquitos like sweaty people. If they are flocking your way maybe you should tone down your physical activity or take a cold shower. Experts say there are natural ways to reduce the number of mosquitos in a city, ahem, Florence. Dragonflies eat mosquitos, so we obviously need about 5 billion more of those. Also, one breed of Mosquito doesn’t suck blood but it eats other mosquitos larva so we need to buy some of those and dump a few million of them in the Arno. I’m not an expert, but Mosquito eating insects sounds like a great idea to me.

So you know what they say, know thy enemy, knowledge is power, and all of that? Well, I’m going to educate everyone on how to keep the evil little monsters away until Europe gets the problem under control. You’re welcome. First and foremost one should mosquito-proof their home. Most people have probably already stocked up on insect repellent, but a study at Kansas State University found that the commonly used anti-pest ingredient, DEET, isn’t as effective as natural plant repellents because mosquitos build up a resistance to it. They found that a chemical found in lavender, marigolds and basil is toxic to mosquitos and is much more effective than synthetic chemicals. Mosquitos also dislike catnip and citronella. Keep mosquitos out of your home by installing a cheap screen and/or lining all of your windows with potted lavender, marigolds, catnip and maybe some citronella candles. I’ve also read that garlic works though I haven’t found any scientific evidence of it so I wouldn’t use it unless you have a vampire problem. Mosquitos are more active at night so try to be prepared when you head out to dinner or a night of debauchery. A few dabs of lavender or citronella essential oils on skin can keep them at bay. For those of you with pets don’t forget your four-legged friends, Heart-worm is easy to prevent with a monthly preventative tablet but the illness is very difficult and costly to cure. If these simple techniques are used, with the right preparation everyone can have a comfortable, mosquito-free, year.

Arles France 2013

Honestly, I’ll never understand all of the fuss against French people. I love France. I’ve never had a bad experience and people are usually incredibly nice to me. The French are less smiley and are more direct than what Americans are used to and they don’t often speak English (which doesn’t bother me because they ARE FRENCH) but it’s fine. We went to Arles France recently and it was so nice! Great hotel, nice people, and amazing food. REALLY AMAZING. Even my Italian husband (they have some imaginary rivalry as are most international rivalries) admitted that the food is amazing. Before this trip my husband was convinced that French people were so mean that they probably killed kittens for fun after they beat random grannies in the street. My argument is this: There are assholes everywhere, there are kind people everywhere, and there are always diamonds in the rough. I have met a lot of insane people in the US, many assholes in Italy, and sweethearts in France. My advice for going abroad is to just do you, be nice, and most peopl will respond in kind. I’m completely fucked up and most people respond with kindness or shock OR they let me FINALLY come on their ship!

I dragged my husband out with me one night in Arles, both of us pretty drunk. We were near ship docks for the river cruises and I decided that I HAD TO GO ON A SHIP BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE A PIRATE! First, I tried to sneak onto one with no luck, with my husband begging me to just “be normal for once” and pulling on my arm. I tapped on glass windows and tried to “yyoooo-hoooo” my way inside. Then I found another cruise ship with a few humans on the deck. I tried approaching their boat/ship/awesome with “me, vodka, yaaay!” at a captain but the two other men on the boat told me “no”. So, out of ideas, I forced F to climb a rock wall with me next to the ship and river (despite my wearing a leather miniskirt and heels) so I could hide behind a wall to spy on the ship. If I couldn’t hang out I would just spy on them and pretend I was there. Yes, I spent a lot of time alone and as the “weird kid,” with no friends. It’s obvious, I know.

I peeked over the wall with only my eyes showing. The captain of the boat saw me and I slowly waived with my hand barely over the wall. Then I gave him a huge smile and screamed, “SALUT!!!!” He turned to the other captain, they both shook their heads and finally waived me and F over. They invited us on their cruise ship and the skipper brought us each a beer (“no have, vodka”). We sat around a table, the skipper, captain, and a few other employees. None of them really spoke English and we didn’t speak French but it was so much fun. We gestured and drank beers. We spoke slowly and mimed. We exchanged cell phone photos of wives, children, and random excursions. The men pointed to their wives and children with sad eyes, “many weeks I no see.” When the sun came up over the horizon we bid them all farewell but they begged us to stay. “Come on! The guests come now! We next city! You come, you! No pay!” Sadly, Francesco told me that I couldn’t be a pirate of a cruise ship. We stumbled back to our hotel, with fond memories of our new friends, a reminder that language isn’t as necessary as kindness, and lost dreams of booty and buccaneering. One day, my friends. One day.

 

Your Questions Answered: Flying To Italy With Pets, How To Taste Wine, And Cooking Classes In Florence

I get a lot of questions about a lot of different things. I might not write back right away but I keep the questions in a notepad and I try to answer them here when I have a chance. Here is some stuff I found while stalking the internet and it answers some of your questions about Florence Italy. 

I get a lot of questions about pets. Florence is a very, very pet-friendly city. You should definitely bring your dog, cat, alligator, whatever but you should research flying and airlines first. It can be kind of tricky. So, if you have a pet and want to bring him/her with you when you move to Italy, both of these are great websites: Flying With Pets & Traveling With Pets.  

If you’re planning a long vacation in Florence or you’re coming to study or live you should try to take at least a few cooking classes. I love learning how to cook here. It’s incredibly fun and a really good idea for a date (fun, romantic, messy). Want to learn how to cook in Florence, Italy? You need to check out the Cordon Bleu School. 

Moving to Italy for the wine (who isn’t)? Avoid looking like a novice by reading this article before you arrive on How To Taste Wine

Expats In Italy: READING IN FlORENCE: HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS I AM SO BAD AT PUBLIC SPEAKING!

As you guys know, I had a reading last night. I only had ONE glass of wine before the reading which is AMAZING because usually I can’t even step in front of people without 10 vodka grapefruits which leads to what my incredibly talented friend, Dr. Lee Foust (also an expat in Italy) refers to as, “The interesting way that you read things,” but what he actually means is, “The drunk slurring way that you read things that is super embarrassing but kind of endearing so I’ll keep being friends with you.” So, one glass of wine and I was SCARED. Why? I don’t know. I’ve had intense stage fright ever since I was a kid. In school I would do book reports and then not turn them in because they made you read them IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.  I always enjoy readings after I do them but beforehand I kind of freak out. Totally sad in comparison with Lee who is a performer and a natural but maybe we kind of offset each other in an interesting way. Who knows?

The reading went pretty well, there were loads of expats, and new people studying in Florence, and I was asked a lot of interesting questions which I will try to answer here soon. The first being, “How did you meet your Italian husband and WHERE?” I wrote a story about that in my memoir and I’ll post it here for you to read (I’m talking to YOU short and adorable SACI student with the epically cute pixie-ish hair cut). I offered to get a drink with her but I think I freaked her out. Kind of like that American couple last week who I offered to walk to their hotel because they were lost and the husband was all, “NO! NO! We’re TOTALLY FINE! ThANK YOU!” And then he literally RAN AWAY with his wife. It took me a few minutes to realize that I scared him because he probably read somewhere in a travel book to NEVER EVER let a tiny woman with an obvious AMERICAN ACCENT, her husband and poodle walk you to your hotel because of risk of being robbed and or killed. With that I’d just like to add that Florence isn’t dangerous people, nobody is going to put that much effort into killing you here. Robbing you, maybe, but first you’d have to let them INSIDE your house/apartment/hotel and I just wanted to show you the street. I didn’t plan on coming up for a shower. Assface.

I jokingly told Lee to not leave me while I was reading and he came back to sit by me which was super cute but LEE, I WAS JUST KIDDING! I’m not THAT crazy (lie, I totally am that crazy but I don’t want to be so I’ll deny it and you’ll let me, k?)

Another question I was asked frequently was, “Where can I buy your book?” Well, I have an agent and that’s cool but honestly I have no idea. It could be soon it could be never. Tell someone to publish M.E. AND buy me a capybara. Everyone wins! HOWEVER, you can totally follow one of my blogs and I’ll keep you up-to-date on all things M.E.