Boondoggle

One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Cracks in the glass gondola-sphere

An unlicensed female gondolier?

Get off that gondola, woman.

Courtney at Feministing passes on news of a breakthrough in Venice:

Twenty-three year old Giorgia Boscolo just became the first female gondolier after nine centuries of exclusively male rowing in the canal in Venice. Boscolo had to pass a grueling six-month, 400 hour course, but told reporters that she had no fear that she couldn’t handle the physicality of the job: “Childbirth is much more difficult.” Boscolo is the mother of two.

Nine centuries of sexism don’t surprise me.  What shocks me is that a gondolier would need 400 hours of training to row people up and down canals in a little boat.  Was this something that was imposed only on Boscolo because of her gender?  Or are all gondoliers just…really, really good at rowing gondolas?

(Just guessing here, but I also imagine that this kind of rigorous regimen is a way of keeping the cadre of gondoliers insulated.  If it’s something that most people — even women! — can do, then that seems all the more reason for current members of the club to make ridiculous requirements for entry.)

(image from flickr user blacque_jacques under a Creative Commons license)

June 29, 2009 - Posted by | Feminism | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I’d say they also keep barriers to entry high so that the quantity of gondoliers remains low, which would have a tendency to increase both the quality and price of gondola rides. It’s the same thing they do in Paris for taxis.

    When I was in Venice, I looked into the cost of doing this, and as I recall, it was ridiculously expensive. Since then, I’ve always wondered why this was, and your post has illuminated at least part of the answer.

    Comment by Kenny B. | June 29, 2009 | Reply


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