21 Oct 2009

Anger over comments by Berlusconi

1:16 pm on 21 October 2009

Almost 100,000 women in Italy have signed a petition, expressing anger over an insult addressed by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to a female politician on live television.

Mr Berlusconi said that the woman, Rosie Bindi, 58, was 'more beautiful than intelligent'.

The prime minister says his comments were a joke - but he's been accused of blatant chauvinism.

The BBC reports some view the backlash as a new feminism taking root in a traditionally conservative country.

Others say that it is another example of Mr Berlusconi's ability to offend women, whether he means it or not.

Mr Berlusconi's comment was made on a late-night TV discussion programme.

The comments have caused uproar. Some 97,000 women have now signed a petition saying they were offended by his remarks.

One commentator said: "We protest against this cretinisation of women."

Senator Patrizia Bugnano called him a chauvinist, saying: "Someone tell Berlusconi he is no George Clooney."

Opinion poll companies say Mr Berlusconi's comments will probably not do him too much harm, as his female supporters are used to such colourful remarks.