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)