The XX Factor

Channeling Trump, Italian Politician Compares Colleague to a Sex Doll

Matteo Salvini attends the first ENF (Europe of Nations and Freedom) congress in Milan on January 28 , 2016.

Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images

Proving that America has no monopoly on gross misogyny—as the GOP nominee for president Donald Trump might make some believe—on Monday the leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party, Matteo Salvini, compared Laura Boldrini, the speaker of the lower house of the Italian parliament, to a sex doll. In his speech at a rally near Cremona, Italy, his supporters held a blow-up doll behind him. Referring to it, Salvini said “Boldrini’s clone is here on the stage.” He offered no explanation as to why he made that particular comparison.

Salvini has long been opposed to Boldrini’s political views. Before being elected to parliament, she served as Italy’s spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Since her election, she has been appealing for the humane treatment of immigrants in Italy—a view that the anti-immigrant Salvini clearly opposes. When asked by Sky Italia television if he would apologize for his sex-doll comparison, Salvini went so far as to say, “You must be joking, it’s Boldrini who should apologize because she is a racist towards Italians.”

The doll joke received much laughter from his supporters in the crowd, but as soon as it appeared on social media, Salvini began receiving criticism. Emanuele Fiano, a deputy for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party said that “Salvini misses no opportunity for insults and vulgarity, but with this rally he has passed every limit of decency.”

Sound familiar? Turns out Salvini found something of a role model in Trump when the two met in November of last year.

(Translation: Renzi chooses the spectacular disaster of Obama & Merkel, I prefer the law and order proposed by #Trump2016!)

The bromance makes a lot of sense. Though Trump hasn’t gone so far as to compare Hillary Clinton to a sex doll (yet), he has participated in his fair share of gendered criticism. He’s accused Clinton of playing the “woman’s card” on multiple occasions, saying that “If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote.” And Trump has even said that “The only thing she’s got going is the fact that she’s a woman.”

This, of course, is a ridiculous statement. But it’s totally on par with a sexist worldview—one shared by Trump, Salvini, and many individuals—that treats women as empty, disposable shells. Salvini might wish that Boldrini was more like a mute sex doll, but in reality, she is an accomplished politician who allows her ideas to speak for her—and such a basic comparison isn’t going to stop her anytime soon.