Responding to a call out made by women within the movement a few days ago, today around 100 NO TAV women met up in Susa to “have a chat” with the local Mayor (a woman herself).
The protesters bumped into the Mayor just outside the Council House and informed her they would “make a visit” to the meeting that had been planned in the morning.
A heated debate followed, where the protesters demanded the Mayor justify her support of the TAV project. The Mayor attempted to defend her position and highlighted everything would be done to “decrease the impact the project will have on the local area”. Furthermore, she added that the local authorities cannot undo the decision made by the government to carry on with the works.
An elderly lady from the Valley who will see her own house demolished received no words of comfort from the Mayor, who confirmed her fears over the effect the works will have on the health of local people (respiratory damage from dust, for example).
At the end of the meeting, the No TAV women offered the Mayor bouquets of tear gas painted in yellow: the only flowers that will ever grow in Valsusa if the TAV project is allowed to be completed (in Italy it’s tradition to give yellow mimosa flowers to women on International Women’s Day).
The initiative comes after a week of a blanket propaganda campaign orchestrated by the mainstream media against the NO TAV movement. Apart from the same old divisive arguments about good vs bad protesters, one article in particular has stood out, published in a supplement “for women” sold by the newspaper Corriere della Sera. Just to give you an idea of its incredibly sexist rhetoric, I’ve translated the title and summary:
“NO TAV: The defeated women of the Val Susa
The female metamorphosis of the protests. Once they would set up improvised nurseries, they would cook, they would shyly smile while holding their wire-cutters. Today they carry out violent direct actions, come from social centres, and instead of woolly hats they wear balaclavas”
…I think that says it all, doesn’t it? As a woman, you might be allowed to protest, as long as you do it in a “womanly” way, within the stereotypes: in the kitchen, looking after children, smiling shyly behind your long fringe. If you’re bold and step out of the sexist stereotypes, then you’re not a woman anymore…if you can read Italian, have a read yourself. The article was followed by a wave of outraged responses by the NO TAV and other feminist and activist sites, here is a good collection (all in Italian, sorry).
Sources of info and pictures: this article on notav.info and the links mentioned above.