Nude statues at Rome’s Capitoline Museum were recently covered up during the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for fear of offending the visiting dignitary.
During the last week of January, Rouhani hosted a news conference at the museum to help rouse interest for investing in Iran. The museum is full of classic Italian nude statues, but during Rouhani’s visit, giant, white wooden boxes covered statues including “Venus” and the “Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.”
Statues thousands of years old were covered because it was assumed one man couldn’t handle seeing the naked human form. That’s ridiculous.
The censorship of Italy’s culture and creativity not only drew fire from Italian citizens, but sparked a creative protest. The hashtag #statuenude took off, with citizens posting images of nude statues to ridicule the decision.
Plans for the meeting were made by the Office of the Prime Minister, according to CNN, which talked with a spokesperson from the museum. CNN reported that many Italians accused the government of betraying their culture just to please Rouhani.
And they did.
Let’s be honest. If someone is visiting your home, you shouldn’t have to hide your lifestyle or change the way you live in order to make them comfortable. They are your guest and should embrace your home. You’re allowing them to stay with you — they should be grateful, not demanding. In fact, this is similar to arguments in the United States that ask women to cover up because it tempts or insults men. If you don’t like Italy’s nudes or a women’s legs, then there is a quick and easy way to handle the situation: don’t look.
The Atlantic called those who ordered the cover-up “unknown parties.” Though Rouhani expressed gratitude at the sight of the white boxes, both the Iranian and the Italian side denied requesting the cover-up. According to Reuters, “the Iranian embassy had asked for the statues to be covered and officials in Renzi’s office had agreed without consulting their bosses.”
I feel that the insubordinate nature of the Iranian embassy is more embarrassing than naked statues could ever be. An order from Rouhani could at least be seen as a display of power, but because his subordinates ordered the cover-up without his knowledge or approval, it’s a sign of weakness. How many other things are they demanding without the president’s knowledge?
Though Rouhani denied ordering the cover-up, he did demand the Italians refuse to serve wine at any official meals, according to NPR. Some would say that’s another ridiculous demand. Sure, there are strict Iranian laws regarding the consumption of alcohol, but they weren’t in Iran, they were in Italy.
Maybe it comes as a shock to someone who’s used to having everyone bend over backwards to please them, but Rouhani needs to get off his high horse. In Italy, they have nude statues.
After Rouhani’s visit to Italy, he moved on to France, where the country’s hosts decided to stand by their culture and refused to have wineless meals.
Traditionally, the saying goes “if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.” In this instance I think it would be more along the lines of “if you can’t handle the nudity, get out of Italy.”
Alissa Smith is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @thealissasmith or email her at AlissaS@centralfloridafuture.com.