My Italian mother has through her actions and words told her daughters that we were "silver" and her son "gold." Girls tarnished like silver, whereas gold always stayed bright and shiny. I realize now in adulthood that no matter what I do, I will never be on the same playing field as my brother. No matter how much he continues to ignore her, not invite her over to see the grandkids, never inviting her to his home for the holidays, she will not hold that against him. However, if I say the slightest thing about it, she doesn't speak to me. She even went as far as putting her house in joint ownership with her son, who has proved himself to be selfish and when our dad died, emptied out his bank account for himself since the account was held jointly in his name. So, through her actions AND words, she let us know just where her daughters (females) stand. Supposedly many Italians feel that sons are more valuable/cherished than their daughters.