Italy, homophoby and
Some weeks ago, the Swedish multinational Ikea aired an ad campaign aimed at "families of any kind", including homosexual ones. And one of the ad placards shows two young men, hand in hand, walking with a big yellow typically Ikea purse.
Good move. As an entrepreneur, I can only agree with it. Young families create new life, and to do this they may need some Ikea stuff. The wider and more diverse the audience, the more "potential customers" will turn in actual, with many, many Euros coming in.
Mr. Giovanardi, a (second-class: "sottosegretario", that is, more or less, assistant-to-some-minister) Italian Government representative, was not the same opinion and claimed: "The term family used by the multinational is against the Italian Constitution, because family is to be intended only the one formed by the union of man and woman in marriage."
I checked on the Italian Constitution, and found four instances of the word "family", and 5 to the term "woman", but nowhere in the text I found a relation between the two.
My limit, sure. If you want to check on yourself, you can: just download the Italian Constitution (a wonderful text, not only for its beautiful language) at the Government's site:
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Of course Ikea replied (in a very entrepreneur-like manner) - but I'll not mention this thread. Once again, who wants may look on the newspapers.
What I ask myself is, how a person so grossly incompetent on a fundamental matter of Italian State as her Constitution can be "sottosegretario". Evidently, the selection criteria for our "directing class" are not so strict in these times.
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Oh, my goodness!
It was not in the Italian Constitution!
Oh, poor! Mr. Giovanardi made the right quotation, but from the wrong place!
The careful definition of what is to be intended as "man", "woman" and "family as ..." is somewhere! But, yes, not exactly in a fulgid example of democracy: you may find it in the Green Book of the Libyan Revolution, by mr. Gheddafi!
Sure, the same definition may be found in other places, but I guess nowhere in the advanced World. Dictatorial regimes often prescribe in strict manner what behavior are to be considered "right" (i.e. orthodox) or not. From Belarus to North Korea to Libya, passing through China and many others, examples abound.
So, did mr. Giovanardi just opened the wrong web page on his iPad? Sure this may be, an old man, not very accustomed to the Digital Age...
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But no, mr. Giovanardi is not new to outings against the dignity and right of LGBT people and non-married heterosexual couples.
Nor is he alone. Fear of "homosexuality" is widespread among Italian political class and overall population. Among many catholics and right-wing people, as predictable. But also somewhere else.
Sensitivity to LGBT people rights is increasing, as the numbers of the last Italian Gay Pride (held yesterday in Rome) show, and the world has seen, also thanks to the extensive coverage granted by worldwide known testimonials as Lady Gaga.
Yet, Italy remains one of the most rearward places in the World, if we look at actual understanding and acknowledgment of LGBT rights. Nothing comparable to Uganda, where institutions actively prosecute homosexuals and gender-variant people. But the overall climate is also heavy.
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A huge support to homophoby in Italy comes from religion, catholic especially. According to a widespread assumption, the division of humans in males and females corresponds to a "natural" division of responsibilities. I add, of places in society too, with "good men", married, involved in some publicly visible activity while their invisible wives support them from the shadow. Allow women to be independent, and the less capable of their husbands, lacking support from behind, might risk being acknowledged the stuffed shirts they are, and swept by meritocratic competition.
The same assumption equates "male" to "man", "female" to "woman", with the natural relation among man and woman the "marriage".
Homosexuality, then, is a deviation from the Norm divinely established. If not evil, at least it is sick, in their view. Sure it can not be a form of "normality" - if it would, then also the naturalness of marriage-among-man-and-woman, and the social order it implies, would "vanish". And, in lack of a social order, the Catholic Church pretends to look afraid no ethics would be. Of course, to them no ethics may ever exist outside religion.
OK. Which "religion"? We might open a huge doctrinal debate, quite endless and hopeless I imagine. I might use my Lutheran sympathies to counter this argument. Or, as a scientist, I may try to use the bit of knowledge science has gained over the processes of life as a lever, to impose my own view (would I have one, of course). Anyone, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist or whatever, could join the brawl. But this would just shift our attention somewhere else.
Allow, please allow me to stay on ground!
What I strongly feel is, the kind of homophoby we see in Italy is very akin to a sort of "horror of the feminine".
Of femaleness, and its (pretended!?) un-controllable productivity, bound in flesh and blood, in the dark humid chtonic of the body's insides. A productivity which threatens (yes, still today!) the fragile maleness of power people. Patriarchy, as an order enforcer in front of the Multiple Possibilities of Life? (As a self-domestication?)
(No hope of saying that the very same processes operating behind the symbolically hard to accept (to a fragile "male" mind) menstrual blood also operate behind, say, mitochondria blindly running their part in Krebs respiratory cycle - just to mention one: the whole of life, male or female, on this planet unfolds in humid darkness, thanks to or evolutionary heritage, thanks to life having emerged from the sea, eons ago in deep time of geology).
(Mr. Giovanardi, however, is not a geologist - we may try excusing he for such a deplorable lack of possibilities).
Sure homosexuals act like sort of living counterexamples to the Established Dogmas.
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Saying gender culture is not widespread among Italian laypeople is just plain understatement.
This may be fortunate to Italian social conservatives, because the "T" side of LGBT would place even more radical questions.
And this, not to mention the "I" part of the LGBT group, the intersexed people - a minority in the minority, yet even more threatening to the catholic order. Products of nature, not of (according to them) human will. Unless God watched somewhere else when molding these creatures, or paid insufficient attention, they too exist (at a fraction of population much higher than Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium theory would predict for a "purely disadvantageous" mutation - that is, they exist as a (by?)product of a mutation which is advantageous, in some circumstances, and then are not wed out by natural selection, as happens to mediterranean anemy, protecting against malaria in the heterozigote, but lethal in the homozygote). (I've made one of my very first posts on Pulsewire on this subject).
In Italy, "gender" and "sex" are still equated.
This is indicative of a cultural gap, in my opinion. I'm not claiming "gender" to be something right, well defined, or even desirable for humans (I in fact suspect it acts as a cage, hindering development possibilities of human brain). But, not distinguishing it from "sex" (nor realizing that "sex", from latin "sexus", divided, is not after all so partitioned as Catholic orthodoxy states) says a lot on how deep and huge the cultural repression in Italy did act.
Consequences are often pathetic, as we saw on October 2006 when Elisabetta Gardini, European deputy for Italy, but more known as former actress and showgirl (http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabetta_Gardini), said the transgender deputy Vladimir Luxuria "You can't stay here: this is the Ladies Room!"
Placed where to stay.
Knowing which place to stay.
Knowing the Order, and not contesting it. Not even understanding, and accepting it by some religious faith.
Just assuming "it is". Because "all" say so.
(You see, bugs are not only among men, with their fixation for patriarchy).
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LGBT, in this struggle of symbols, find right in the middle. Tokens. Advertisement destinations.
As targets. Gender-"deviant" people is subject to countless subtle and not-so-subtle violence, widespread in Italy. It is not rare people are injured, even killed, because they are gay/lesbian/anythingelse.
We may do a ton of positive action towards LGBT right (which, indeed, is in my opinion right and just). But if we don't address one problem at it depths, that is, misoginy, results will be just temporary.
This culture, Italy I mean, "should accept femaleness". From fascism, to current widespread homophoby, seem to me recurrent manifestations of a "reaction against femaleness" - a collective femaleness, not separable, nor deniable, as the collective maleness which coexist in any natural population (as human kind and its subsets, Italy included, is after all).
May take time?
At least, as much time as acknowledging menstrual blood as what it is, a normal life process, not a symbol.
As in Francesco Guccini's song, "Libera nos, Domine".
Libera nos, Domine.
Libera nos, from symbols, dogmas, and priest hypocrisy.
Let's live. As placentate mammals, alive creatures.
Creatures, among creatures, among reigns of Nature.
And let any creature live.