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Lidia Poet: Feminist Italian Lawyer

By Lori Perkins

I have a good friend with whom I usually watch my romcom and biographies of badass women who told me that she was saving a show to watch with me. I wasn’t surprised when she told me it was Lidia Poet, a Netflix show I had only seen when I breezed through What to Watch on the platform. It had kind of caught my attention, but no one I knew was talking about it, and I was already deep into other shows. I thought we would watch an episode or two, but we binged through the whole six episodes in one sitting.

Lidia Poet is about a real female lawyer in Turin Italy who passed the Italian bar in the 1880’s and was denied admittance to practice, so she practiced with her brother. She spent her whole adult life fighting for women’s rights in Italy, where she died at 93 in 1949. Of course, we never even heard about her in America. So it’s a delight to see this Italian-produced retro-feminist historical faux-bio.

And the clothes are delicious – deep reds and purples with a hat in every scene and ornate furniture and wallpaper in every room, as well as quite a few delicious men.

Poet always convinces her more austere brother to take on cases that seem closed at first, but they figure them out and champion the underdog – she’s kind of a historical feminist Perry Mason.

But one of the oddest details of this worthwhile show that kind of threw me was a throw-away line by one of Lidia’s lovers (yes, she is polyamourous and doesn’t want to marry in 1880!) was a comment that she should go to America, where women have real options and there was already a woman running for president. I was sure he had made this up, but when I went online and looked up “Lockwood,” I learned at this very ripe old age, that the first woman to run for president in America was Belva Ann Lockwood, (1830–1917), a noted lawyer and a National Equal Rights presidential candidate, who ran for president of the United States in the election of 1884, becoming the first woman to run a full-scale presidential campaign. And then I learned that there were a lot of other women who had run for president before Shirley Chisholm, who I had thought was the first, but she was merely the first Black woman to run for president.

Goes to show you how inefficient and patriarchal our American History education is (and I studied AP history in a very progressive high school). So, since this is the first day of Women’s History Month, tomorrow I am going to write about the history of female presidential candidates in America. It’s pretty awesome stuff!


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