Snips: Their simmering power struggles once drove them into the streets, guns blazing. They rule their crime families with steely determination, and also raise the kids and stir the pasta.
Move over, Don Corleone. Godmothers are rising in the ranks of the Camorra, the Naples' area crime syndicate.
Women have long played a strong role in Camorra crime families, muscling, sometimes murdering, their way to the top. Their influence stretches back as far as the 1950s when a pregnant former beauty queen dubbed "pupetta" (little doll) shot dead the man who had ordered a hit on her husband, and allegedly settled into a life of crime.
Now, as the state steps up its war against the Camorra, rounding up scores of mobsters, the women are increasingly taking over the helm from their men.
Raising offspring means steeping children in a life of crime and arranging marriages of sons and daughters to spin a web of new or stronger ties with potentially rival clans. "They're very determined, very good at mapping out strategy, even sharper" than their men, Maruccia said in a telephone interview.
But does that mean Camorra women can be considered "liberated?"
In one key sense, sociologist Zaccaria thinks not.
"The code of the Camorra permits the boss to have all the lovers he wants, even publicly, because it reinforces his strength," she said. "The Camorra woman, in contrast, cannot betray him."
Damn. Guess I'll have to cross Mob Boss off my list of possible career choices after all.