As we grow older and start practicing more gratitude as a step to deal with the madness of life and adulthood, we have learned to be grateful for being born during times when people at least make an effort to hide their sexism instead of when it was encouraged to openly flaunt it, like during the time Lidia Poet was alive.
“The Law According to Lidia Poet” is, of course, a fictional account of her life based on some elements of truth. It is true that she was disbarred from practicing law because of her gender, and if you read about her, you would realize that she would not be allowed to do so for several more years. She was a woman who had fought against the entire world and sometimes even herself to be able to follow her dreams. They were what mattered most to her, so what would she do when she lived in a country that decided that her dreams were against the very profession she sought to follow? Her entire life, her aspirations had not just been ignored by her friends and family, but we are sure that they were actively crushed. It is one thing to tell your child that the world is not ready for a woman to step into the court of law and a completely different thing to refuse to acknowledge any possibility of talent or worth outside of her social duties as a woman. This is, unfortunately, something that still exists, and the reason it hurts all the more is that it means that a parent has failed in their duty to understand their child.
The thing about a child hurt by a parent is that the child starts believing that if the person who gave birth to you and was supposed to be your strongest support cannot bring themselves to bother to understand you, then they can’t expect that from the rest of the world either. This desensitization can also act as a source of strength for the child, which is how we believe Lidia went about her day. People saw a woman before they saw a lawyer. She had gone to university, taken her bar exam just like the men, and passed it, yet that was not enough. It’s hard to say whether the thinking of the world that intelligence resides in biology has changed, but Lidia suffered for it in a particularly cruel manner. She was already getting paid less than her male counterparts because she was a woman, and this was the only way she could get cases. Yet, she was independent and was in a position to reject a man, Andrea, from paying her bills. How much must it have hurt to be left without a means of income and be forced to live with her brother and his condescending views as to how she should live her life? Between the two of them, Lidia was clearly the superior lawyer simply because she had the eye for detail and the drive for justice that defined the greats of the profession.
We read that the real Lidia Poet was born on the 26th of August, so close to the cusp of a Leo and a Virgo that she is almost in it. Well, she truly personifies it by being an unstoppable force with an eye for detail that would have placed her in the legal hall of fame had she been a man. But she was a woman, and she had to place her life at risk with the D’Angennes case for her brother to realize that she was not just something he needed to take care of. Instead, he gave her the task of “copying letters” for him, an upgrade from waiting for marriage. To borrow from the popular comparison, she had to work ten times as hard to be considered a quarter as good. When she solved the murder of Elena de Santis and let her brother take the credit, it was a move borne of necessity, as her word as a woman would have been disregarded. She must have felt slighted by the compromises that she had to make. But when the murderer is revealed, we see a far stronger emotion on her face. Elena de Santis was killed because she was a woman who stood by what she believed in and was punished for it by death. Undoubtedly, Lidia saw herself in the dead woman because she was already being punished every day by men for daring to be ambitious for more than a “good husband.” What Lidia felt then was grief at the state of the world and the fears that undoubtedly were a part of her life. This continued with the case of Margherita Sangiacomo.
Why Does Lidia Help Margherita Sangiacomo?
While Elena de Santis’ actions went unnoticed because she kept them under the radar, Margherita was open about her ambitions. She had graduated and was a researcher in the field of science, which rubbed most people the wrong way, just like Lidia’s ambitions did. When Lidia discovered that Margherita was indeed the culprit, she told her that she would not say a word about this to anyone. It is easy to dismiss Lidia’s action here as unnecessary sympathy simply due to the similarity of the situation, but we cannot ignore that women’s motivations will always run deeper than men’s. Margherita’s mother was killed in the cruelest way possible; wasn’t she chosen because the men thought that nobody would notice a nameless woman missing? Even if they did, would they bother to investigate the death of a prostitute? Years later, had Margherita wanted to protest this, would her word have been taken seriously, considering her mother’s profession as well as the fact that Margherita herself was a woman?
It would have also meant that she would lose the career she had worked so hard to build because the world doesn’t like to listen to a woman’s voice when a man is talking. Margherita would have had a greater chance of justice if she had been a man, but being a woman meant that gender politics intersected with class, placing her at a greater disadvantage. Lidia understood this, especially since this was almost hot on the heels of her discovery that her father wanted her to get married so that his debt would be forgiven and not out of actual concern for her. We bet Lidia realized that even coming from a wealthy background did not matter if she was a woman; she would just be a pawn in the games of men. We bet this was a moment of awakening for her, where she came to clearly note that despite her disadvantages, she still had certain privileges. Her brother was condescending, but he saw sense when forced to open his eyes, unlike many men who were willfully blind. Though not in her name, she had wealth and a brother who treated her as a person instead of goods to be traded. Women like Elena and Margherita did not have that, so why shouldn’t she make use of the advantages presented to her?
How Does Jacobo And Lidia’s Fight Affect Her? Will Lidia Poet Leave For America?
When Jacobo told her that she was lonely, it came as a rude shock to Lidia because it was true. Nobody had ever understood Lidia, and that meant that she could barely talk to people about what she thought or wanted because they would just advise her to follow the “traditional path out” because that is all they knew. Lidia Poet was an anomaly of a woman, and people did not know what to make of her. It had never bothered Lidia, who always did exactly what she wanted to. But that trait can be a double-edged sword because, as happy as it can make you, there is no one to share your happiness with. Lidia must have been told plenty of times that the path she was taking would mean that she would end up alone but being looked down on because of it by a person she had come to trust made her realize that the ingrained conditioning of society would always be a weapon against her.
When Andrea asked her to come away with him, he was offering her a life that she had probably always dreamed of: one where she would be judged for her capabilities and not her gender. She would finally have the freedom to practice law with her name on the case files instead of her brother’s. She might also make friends with like-minded people, and most of all, there would be Andrea. He had told her that he would like to be with her but did not expect a relationship. It was the perfect arrangement for Lidia, one where she could actually have it all. She had seen the price women like her had to pay in this world, so what was her incentive to stay back when she had the class privilege to seek a better fate for herself? When her appeal is rejected, she has absolutely no reason to live in Italy. Of course, wherever Andrea was going wasn’t a feminist paradise, but it was better than Turin. Lidia would be able to live a life on her own terms. She packs up and is all set to go, and trust us when we say that we wouldn’t have looked back had we been in her place. But she is Lidia Poet, and she looks back. She sees the impact she has had on women across the country. It is the first time she has had such vocal support for herself, the first time she has seen that she is not alone and that there are others like her, women with ambition who understand her and would stand with her. Her appeal had been dismissed, but she was finally not lonely anymore, and Turin definitely needed her sharp eye to deliver justice to the right person.
Going with Andrea would mean a life of financial independence and respect for her abilities, whereas staying back in Turin meant a long fight and a chance to make a difference. Whether Lidia leaves or not depends on whether she sees herself as an individual or as part of a community. She has been a lone wolf her entire life, but despite its benefits, she knew something was missing. She would get that if she left, but if she stayed back, she could ensure that women in the future would not have to face the kind of choice that she was having to. Her fight had to transcend her as an individual and be for the women of an entire country and, subsequently, the entire world. Lidia Poet was not an ordinary woman, and as much as we want her to choose herself, we know that she would choose womankind. We don’t think Lidia Poet will go to America. She will stay back in Italy and make sure to be the voice of many like her. What can we say except that we are grateful and that her selflessness is making sure that women worldwide have a lot more agency? She is a better person than we are, and she has our thanks for that.