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The problematic relationship that Italian American women writers, poets, filmmakers, and performers reveal with their cultural tradition are that many think the women should just be in the kitchen, taking care of children, and taking care of the house. Furthermore, the stereotype that Italians have, such as, being loud, men being guidos, eating spaghetti and meatballs, women being submissive, having bad diction, and being a fuller figure is something that is still around but has changed over time due to many Italian Americans being annoyed and embarrassed due to the stereotypes. Especially with shows like Jersey Shore giving them a bad reputation. However, many of these performers have broken through these barriers through music, film, and writing. Italian American actress Alyssa Milano has expressed her outrage over shows, such as, Jersey Shore due to giving Italian’s an awful stereotype and showing them in a very negative light.
Performers like Lady Gaga and Madonna have expressed their love of the heritage, while also stating their annoyance at the stereotypes of Italian women. In Lady Gaga’s “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)” music video, she showed the Italian stereotypes of pasta and meatballs, being loud, her riding a Vespa, men in white tank tops, and Italian flags everywhere in a Little Italy area. However, she breaks the stereotypical submissive woman stereotype of being conservative and only doing what her man wants while also doing common house chores. So it shows that artists, such as Lady Gaga, how Italian American woman can still be great wives/spouses while being confident in themselves and being fashionable in a non-conservative but still feminine and appropriate way.
The pop artist Madonna has strayed away from the conservative, modest, Italian woman. She became famous in the 1980’s due to the sexual nature of all her songs and music videos in a time where most women performers/singers, especially Italian women, did not do that. She was one of the first, very famous Italian American female singers and is probably the most famous one to date. Many thought of her as promiscuous and to “out there,” but she was just showing the world that she does not need a man to be happy and successful and is independent. Such an attitude and perspective steers away from the old-fashioned Italian woman, where she only deals with a kitchen and children. She is a great example because she has kids but also a career and lives by her terms not anyone else’s.
Madonna is named after the figure “Madonna” which is the main representation of femininity for the Italian culture. Many Italian women respect her but feel that her traditional and archaic ways are not made for the times of 2016. Women are on Earth for more than domestic jobs and raising kids. “Madonna” is an enormous figure but is not the only woman Italian women aspire to be like or look up to anymore. Many Italian American performers do not base their life on Madonna due to her religious and virgin attributes.
In the 21st century women do not base everything on religion. In their personal life, these performers may be religious and look up to the Virgin Mary but in their professional life they steer clear. Italian American performers, such as Madonna and Lady Gaga, just want every woman to feel confident and independent. Women do not need to rely on anyone else for their own happiness and to not feel like they are stuck in a bubble. This is why Madonna started extending the boundaries for women in the 1980’s with her sexual content and lyrics in songs such as “Like A Virgin”, wild lifestyle, and revealing clothing. She was not going to let the idea of women in society stop her. Lady Gaga is very similar to Madonna but for the 21st century pop culture woman. She does and wears whatever she wants from meat dresses to coming into the Grammy’s inside an egg. However, her lyrics are not as sexually influenced as Madonna’s and is more on the girl power side. Both these artists represent their Italian heritage well. They always talk about how they are proud of their Italian background, and explain how they are different from the past Italian American performers/women.
Many Italian women feel that they must negotiate between their public, personal life, her home, and professional life through separating both of them. By dealing with her career outside of the home and during her work hours while coming home and dealing with the family. Some Italian women think that they must choose both because in their culture some still think that women only belong in the kitchen however, in 2016 they can balance and have both. Some women choose just one because they think that they cannot have both and many feel swayed to the domestic side. Some still feel like they are guilty of doing something wrong just because they chose a career instead of just family. Thankfully, as time progresses women can choose one path and not feel shameful of their decision.
In the current century, third and fourth generation Italians want to know about their background and the way/heritage that their grandparents grew up in; especially the transition from coming to America from Italy. In Antoinette (Tina) De Rosa’s autobiographical novel ‘Paper Fish’ the main protagonist, Carmolina BellaCasa, wants to know her Italian heritage and is centered around her family, such as, her father, mother, and sister, but specifically her grandmother, Doria. The first generation Italians did not want to Americanize but the second and third generations did. However, now these younger generations want to know their backgrounds, by learning Italian, visiting their homeland, and learning about their ancestors. The older generations were taught to be a domestic women, to cook, clean, be a mother first, while now women do not have to choose either life, they can have both. They can have self-affirmation knowing that they are providing food on the table for their families and having a career for themselves. Italian women are more than just caregivers; they are part of the whole equation.
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