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)
One of Deborah Howell’s year-end ombuds(wo)manly recommendations is for the Post to feature more stories about women and issues that women care about. To wit, typical motherly stuff:
Opportunities abound, especially on Page 1, to draw in women with stories about families, relationships and parenting. The Post in print has precious little coverage of those topics outside of Style advice columnists. Washingtonpost.com has a blog, On Parenting, and women gravitate to the Web site’s Smart Living page. Women also care about consumer issues, which can get short shrift.
Featuring stories from the stereotypical “women’s sphere” of influence does not seem to be the solution to making the Post a more gender equitable and accessible paper. I agree much more strongly with Howell’s points about the staggering gap between stories (even, *gasp*, political ones that women readers might be interested in) that feature or quote men and those that include women more robustly.
Or maybe the Post should just replace the front page with a section on flowers.