Racism and Sexism in Italy: how are Italians seen abroad? The opinion of a foreigner!

In this video we asked the Spanish teacher Marta Tardáguila Del Castillo to tell us her opinion about racism and sexism in Italy. We asked if, according to her, there are episodes of racism and sexism here in Italy and how would they look. What she told us is very interesting!

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Gli Are Italians Racist and Sexist?

In this interview Marta Tardáguila Del Castillo, Spanish native speaker, teacher at a Spanish school in Bari and co-founder of BurbujaDELEspanol.com, a site for learning Spanish, will tell us about her experience in Italy with racism and sexism.


Let’s start with a straightforward qestion: Marta, are Italians racist?

I don’t think so. At least, I personally have never had any trouble.

And tell me, has it ever occurred to you to pay something more than its actual price just because you’re a foreigner? For example in a bar, or a restaurant or for some service…?

No, it never once happened. Actually, I have to say that it’s very hard to pay for your coffee while being with an Italian, since you always insist on taking the bill.

Have you ever been discriminated because of how you dress?

No, this never happened to me either. As you say, we have similar styles, and follow the same fashon rules.   It’s also true that I’m from Madrid, a very big city, and am used to dressing as I want without criticizing others, considering that like in every big city, you end up seeing the most unexpected things. On the other hand i’ve never seen anything strange here.

So Italians don’t make you feel uneasy?

No, absolutely.

Have you ever been excluded by some conversation or event once it turned out that you are not Italian?

No, quite the opposite. Once they learn that i’m Spanish I immediately become the centre of attention. I’m often told things like: “What a nice place”, “I’ve been there”, “I like the language”, everyone is very kind and cinterested.

You speak Italian very well, we already learnt this in the interview you had with Graziana, when you explained how you got the Italian language certification PLIDA C2 level. But have you ever been reprimanded because of the way you talk, your pronunciation, some mistakes you made…?  

It happened, but there was never any ill will. My friends correcet me because they know I’m always willing to improve, and it’s true that I still make many mistakes, especially with double consonants, pronouns or prepositions… Strangers usually never correct me, actually they praise me: you’re pretty good, not bad, you don’t really have an accent; even though I know very well it’s noticeable.

Not that much. By the way we also made a video about the different Italian accents and dialects. It’s hard to have a standard accent, so ther’s nothing bad if yours shows a little. 

It’s a beautiful thing, i think it’s enriching.

One more thing, this happened during my journeys. I realized that when they want to hurt you, people abroad will use your home country to attack you. Have you ever been attacked because of where you come from? 

If memory serves me right no, nobody ever wanted to attack me becuse I’m Spanish. But even if they did it would be useless, because i am my own person and not my country. But still it never happened.

So you’ve never been in this situation, but even if that were to happen, you wouldn’t be hurt by something like this.

That’s right.

Last question: are Italians sexist?

Let me say beforehand that I’ve never had any problem and have always been treated fairly; I don’t know if this works for all of Italy, but i noticed that in Bari, in the south of Italy where I live, survives a more traditionalist culture. Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, but you can definitely feel it.

So you mean that here in Bari there’s a bit of sexism? That you feel something? 

The culture leans towards sexism, but maybe it’s not on purpose, maybe it’s just culture. c’è questa tendenza, magari involontaria, è proprio una questione di cultura. Furthermore I’m used to interact with people from different countries, and you become aware, as I think you know since you’ve been abroad, of the different points of view in the various nations, and notice that perhaps Italy is lagging behind.

Could you provide some examples of this sexism and backwardness? 

For example I happened to meet some gurls whose life goal was to marry and build a family as soon as they reached their twenties, because that’s how they grew up and they believe it to be the standard. I was taken aback, because if such a young girl thinks that, it means that she only knows this, that she doesn’t know any other way of living. I don’t know if I made myself clear. In the end, I think that sexism doesn’t necessarily come from the man, culture plays an importal role.

So you mean that the sexism you feel here in Italy isn’t just an attempt of domination from the man, but is also a matter of tendency from the woman? 

I think so, it’s a matter of culture, and the way you grow up and live involves both men and women.

Your answer is very interesting, we could keep talking about this in a future interview.

Yes, of course. Anyway I wish to highlight that the fact I noticed this isn’t something negative, I simply felt this more here than in Spain.

I’d like to ask something to all our followers: in your opinion, when the woman accepts her culture and likes her lifestyle, should we consider sexism as a negative thing? Does the problem arise only when the man actively tries to control the woman? Write your answer in the comments! 

We could say this: my idea is that, as you say, there isn’t that much of the sexism in which the man tries to dominate, rather it’s a matter of culture that ivolves both genders; so if they don’t travel the world, if they don’t know anything else they may be fine with this situation, but the moment they get out of their little world, they’ll realize that there are other things in life.

Yes, i think that the problem lies in the fact that when you know only one reality, that’s your world…

So it’s not malice, but culture.

Great, thank you Marta for this most interesting interview. 

Thanks to you and the LearnAmici. I’m always happy to be a host of your channel.

If you want to learn more about Marta and how she teaches Spanish, you should check out her YouTube channel BurbujaDELEspañol.


Ci We hope that this interview was as stimulating for you as it was for us! In your opinion…

  • Is there racism in Italy?

  • Is there sexism in Italy?

  • Are there cases of racism or sexism in your country?

Let us know in the comments: feel free to write whatever you want!