by Pietro Stroppa This text was published first time on November 9th 2005.
I was born in Rome, where I spent a happy childhood, in a large, close family. My mother was a typical “over-protective Roman matron” and not only did I adore her but I also held her in high esteem. As far as I can remember, my relationship with women began when I was five years old, with Serenella, also a five year old, with whom I went, hand-in-hand, to school. I was a handsome child with blond, curly hair. The older girls (between the ages of 18 and 19) who were my neighbours (Luciana Romanelli, Franca Bonora e Rossana Napoleone,) went out their way to talk me out for walks on summer afternoons. My brother Claudio was born when I was six and my mother hired a “nanny”, called Maddalena, from Campobasso to look after us. What I recall most vividly were her sensational breasts. When she dressed me, I couldn’t help but show my admiration for the beautiful Maddalena, innocently placing my hands on her prosperous breasts. She just laughed and removed my hand – a gesture which proved to be a source of enormous amusement to my mother. As I grew up, I became more mischievous. At the age of nine, I remember wearing a blue overall with a white bow to primary school. When I saw an attractive, older woman, without being noticed, I would loosen the bow by myself. I would then tug at her skirt and when she asked “what is it little boy?”, I would say: “Could you please tie my bow?” This was always an ecstatic moment for me because, when the female in question bent down, I was able to look into her eyes for a few seconds. During puberty, my attraction for women was at a peak and, when I was 18, I dreamt of having four wives, naturally all young and beautiful, tall, elegant and intelligent who would all give me different children: a blonde Swede, a red-haired Irish woman, an Indian with raven black hair and an olive skin and a Mediterranean beauty. In my specific case, my passion for women was conditioned by my Christian upbringing which does not permit polygamy, added to which my parents had gifted me with the name of a saint, Peter to be exact, and so my dream remained unfulfilled. As a young man, I read widely. My imagination was captured by the literary works of poets from eastern countries. I was also passionate about the religious philosophies of the Hindus and the Buddhists, so different from those of Christianity. My favourite poet was the Indian Rabindranath Tagore who, better than anyone, managed to describe the magical and dreamy state that one experiences when in love with a woman “who in the morning, looks on the bed, in which he has spent the night with his divine lover, for a few rose petals which will remind him of her” I remember an Indian story, the name of whose author I cannot remember, who talked about women as a paradoxical amalgam. At the beginning of time there was man who, tired of living alone, sought out his God and asked him “I beg you, give me a woman to love and protect, a woman with whom I can live an intense life of passion and emotion!”. After reflecting for a while, God took “the silence of sunlight, the melancholy of the clouds, the heat of fire, the iciness of snow, the singing of doves, the sweetness and delicacy of the white wing of a seagull, circling in the sky, the cruelty of a tiger and the song of a nightingale. He combined all these elements and thus, from this paradoxical amalgam, a woman was born. God gave this woman to the man who was very happy to live with her, to love her and to venerate her. After a few seasons had gone by, the man went back to God and asked him: “My Lord, I appreciate your gift, but I have some complaints, this woman is very boring and petulant. She always has some kind of problem and never stops complaining. Therefore, I beg you, please take her back”. So, God took back the woman. Time passed and, once again, the man sought out his God, saying to him “My Lord, in spite of occupying my time with hunting and fishing and journeys in discovery of new lands, I feel lonely and I cannot forget how elegantly she danced for me, how she loved me, how happy she was and how attentive to me. I beg you, give me back this woman. So, God gave him back the woman. Time passed and, once again, the man returned to his God to complain about the woman. Then God, in his immense wisdom, said “You cannot live with her and you cannot live without her. Not only do you not appreciate my gift but you also do not know how to handle it. Therefore, keep the woman and try to get by on your own!”. Still today, this paradoxical amalgam poses a huge dilemma for a number of men. This long preamble, in which I have allowed myself to take a trip down memory lane, serves to explain the reason why I decided to dedicate this report to the women in our sector: they are a part of our lives, our work and therefore deserve to be given just credit for the contribution that they have given and continue to give. The women that I have photographed, whilst travelling around the world, work in our sector. They all play an important role, at all levels, in the organizations for which they work. They are only representative of a very small minority because the time at my disposal (from July to September) was not sufficient to meet and talk to all of them. The 67 women photographed come from 16 different countries including: Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italia, Latvia, Malaysia, Holland, Poland, Russia, Syria, Spain and Sweden. A significant feature that emerges from the 67 women photographed is the high percentage of those holding a degree, to be precise approximately 20% (in our sector the number of men holding degrees does not even touch upon 5%). From international data obtained over the last few months, it has emerged that women have the best high school leaving grades with a pass rate of 97.7% against the 95.5% of men. Young women graduating from high school with full marks account for 12% against the 6% of young men. Women are also better administrators, not only do they often know how to make more money than men but are also better at saving it. In Great Britain, 2.400,000 women have a savings account with deposits of more than 25,000 pound sterling (37,000 Euros). Women are quicker: in the sports context, women have a lower reaction time than men. This was shown at the recent world athletics championships held in Helsinki, where the sprint champion Lauryn Williams proved to have a reaction time of 0.146 seconds against the 0.157 seconds of the male world champion Justin Gatlin. Women have more tenacity, patience, delicacy, sensitivity and intuition. In the emotional sphere, when a woman loves, her love is totally unconditional. Women are nicer and more sensitive than men. They are also more accommodating in the workplace. We should not forget that these female workers are also the mothers of our children, meaning that, after a long day at work, they still have to take care of household chores and household management. In our sector, in 40 years of activity, I have never come across a woman who refused to take my call. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about certain “pseudo managers” who show a lack of professionalism and a total lack of respect for the work of others. In conclusion, when making a comparison between men and women, men come out as the losers both on a professional as well as personal level. I am sure that if women were given more management power in companies, there would be a more serene atmosphere with better budget results. Hence, I feel fully justified in saying “Long live the women in our sector”.