Italy vs. America: The Differences Observed
Observation #2: Social Views
In 2007, during our class ‘Advanced Conversation and Civilization’, our professor gave us a presentation to do in pairs. We had already done a multitude of presentations, except this one entailed interviewing some of the Italians in town. We were given a variety of topics to choose from. My partner and I decided to focus on the touchy subjects of marriage (in general), same sex marriage, and abortion. Here’s what we discovered.
According to an article written in 2006 in the Corriere della Sera, the percentage of marriages in the past thirty years has fallen by 32.4%. The exception being in the region of Lazio, which had opposite results, with an increment from 4.7% in 1995 to 5.1%. The newspaper also stated that the increase was also partly due to what they call “tourism marriages” – couples coming from around the world to Rome to marry. The individuals we chose to interview had mixed responses on the subject, reflecting the survey. One male stated that he indeed did want to marry, given that the right woman came along. However, another male stated that he couldn’t see the point of marriage and could not imagine spending his life with the same person. This is odd considering he is from southern Italy, which is known for its more traditionally conservative ideals.
Perhaps Italians are becoming more like Americans in this perspective. In the article, Matrimonio no grazie – le americane vivono da sole (Matrimony no thank you – American women live alone) written in Italy’s newspaper, La Repubblica, a survey done in 2007 found that as many as 51% of American women are not married! The majority either live alone or are in a transitory relationship.
Hmmm… are Americans just a little too occupied with their busy work schedules and too scared to make the commitment to someone other than themselves, and/or fear becoming future divorcees?
The age at which couples married has also increased in Italy. It is no longer the trend to marry young, but to wait until one is older. The Corriere della Sera stated that the average age for the groom to marry is 33.7 years old, while your typical bride is 30.6 years old. The male we interviewed who wanted to eventually get married, said somewhere in his 30s would be an ideal time in his life to wed.
And what did the majority feel about gay marriage? Those who we interviewed stated it was the persons’ business if they wished to marry – the complete opposite of the Vatican’s views, whose main nemesis are abortion, euthanasia, and gay marriage. When asked about the church’s views, many stated that the views were old-fashioned and do not reflect the views of the Italian people. In L’Espresso’s article, Coppia gay: Sposateci! (Gay couple: Marry Us!), two males who wished to register their marriage were fighting for their right to marry in Florence. Their plead, they stated, was justifiable. Their argument is that the Costituzione (Constitution), states:
“la famiglia viene indicata senza indicazione di sesso, senza parlare di moglie e marito.”
“the family is mentioned without indicating sex, without speaking of wife and husband.”
The assessore ai servizi demografici (accessor of demographic services), Lucia De Siervo, stated that “it would be possible to register in the Registry of Civil Unions… as it is open to all, without regards to sex.” In this respect, Italy seems to be in line with the views of Americans, but appear to be more open and accepting of at least civil unions.
And abortion? All men stated that it was the woman’s decision to abort. There was no mention of any Pro-Life or Pro-abortion. Instead they have Pro-Choice views.
I am not aware of the views of Italians that are further to the North or to the South. I do not know if such views differ due to age. But judging by what was said by those interviewed and by the articles studied, their views are not much different than our own. Although I might be able to say that they are slightly more open-minded about said debates. All-in-all, it was a great learning experience.