“Say it in Italian, baby”: Sexualizing Italian Identity

(This piece will be in my upcoming anthology, Olive Grrrls: Italian North American Women & The Search For Identity) ------------------------------------------------------------

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

Oh, you speak Italian? That’s cool! Ever speak it in the bedroom? *wink wink*

He’s had a few drinks, and I can tell he’s feeling a bit too comfortable. Amidst his awkward laughter, he tells me he’s kidding. I know he’s not, because I’ve been here far too many times.

Whenever I tell men I can speak Italian, none are interested in hearing it in conversation. They all want to hear it in the bedroom. They assume that a) I’m comfortable speaking Italian during sex, and b) I’m “ethnic”, and this is all my ethnicity is good for—fucking.

He wants me be Sophia Loren’s character from Marriage Italian-Style in real life—a vivacious prostitute. No amount of sexy Italian speak can turn me into that woman. If it could, I might do it.

Say something in Italian—come on, please? I’m close, and it’ll really turn me on.

He’s on top of me—not even inside of me yet. He tells me my hair is a good prop. He wants me to say something “sexy.” I could say cocomero[1] and he wouldn’t know the difference. I could count to ten slowly, and his cum would be everywhere by numero cinque[2].

They all want the same thing. They all want my ethnicity to be the soundtrack to their orgasms.

Say it. Say it how I like it. Come on.

It’s tedious, really. The only thing that changes is the man. I grow tired of his insistence. I grow tired of him only wanting to know that part of me—the oversexed ethnic girl with an olive grove on her skin. I can barely yell out a sexualized version of bambino[3]. It feels foreign on my tongue—even though I know I have said the word a thousand times.

Sexualizing my Italian-ness feels awkward. Does he know that I speak Italian with the same mouth to my 92-year-old nonno? He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care that, when I was first learning Italian, I would proudly count to ten to my nonno on the phone.

No, he only wants to hear me ask, vuoi un pompino?[4]

That was so hot, babe.

I am now just an accessory to his orgasm. He rolls over and gets up to put his pants on. I lie in bed exploited; my ethnicity is exploited. He gives me a smile over his shoulder, as if to say, “Well done!” I don’t feel proud. I feel used. My ethnicity feels overheated and raw.

Do they know when they scream my name in ecstasy it translates to, “the female Christ”?

 

 

[1] watermelon

[2] number five

[3] baby

[4] would you like a blowjob?