Feminicide in Italy: a very alarming rise - with deep roots to eradicate
It's some time that I'm reflecting on the subject of violence against women (in Italy especially). Trying myself doing something, as little as I can. And searching for the courage of sorting it and saying it all.
I will begin with a crude fact. In Italy, in the last two years the number of women murdered by their former lovers or relatives has savagely grown. The number of cases in 2012 has reached the count of 101 by 23 October. So high a number to raise public attention beyond the usual level of "zero alarm": in Italy we have (finally?) adopted a new word, "femminicidio". We arrived late, but words are a first, effective way to develop awareness.
The committee for women and people dignity and rights "Se non ora quando", and many others, are taking a big stand on this subject, and asking institution to repress what (finally) has been acknowledged as not just a "women's problem", but primarily a men's problem. If you like to read something in our beautiful language, you may find it on
and numberless other sites.
But now: why has this happened? Why now? Is this all new?
The more I look around, the more I realize the problem is not specific of the last two years. On the contrary. It may have assumed a more openly bloody face now, with the economic crisis eroding the most insecure peoples' sense of stability...
But it is rooted in old, very old habits. In a sense of "normality" in which the very idea of "woman" is associated to that of a "value" - needless to say, lesser than the "value" of boys, then men.
When I began thinking on this subject my first feeling was of guilty relief: I was still alive. No one has raped me. No one has used direct violence on me, of any kind...
Then, in a moment, I realized my sense of relief was just because me too was accustomed. That I did suffered my daily dose of direct violence. And not for just two or three occasional episodes. On the contrary. For years, from elementary school days to the day I got my degree and beyond, I've seen episodes on me and others.
Episodes of many forms. There was the moment when I was not admitted to join my schoolmates who were trying baseball, with the team leader (a boy renown for his very progressive, left-wing ideas) told me "Oh, if you want to do the cheerleader, we have some place." When, in another occasion, one bully in my school hit me just to make clear what my place was to be. Or that other case when a group of students blocked the corridor to chat and obliged girls to pass another way (still, among them, some of the "progressive" boys). Or when one of my schoolmates, after I said him I was reading about the "triple point" of Enrico Fermi's Thermodynamics book, he asked whether it was a new crochet technique.
Or when the Head of Personnel in my former company summoned all the female "high potentials" around 30 years to communicate them they would have had their career stopped, and the opportunity was offered them to support their (men) replacements "from the shadow, as a good wife is expected towards the husband".
Or when a woman has been beaten or killed with no motivation but a "moment of rage".
Or when a boy has been killed by his schoolmates just because he was "too sensitive". Then, "gay". (The murderers said "gay", but they meant "too similar to a woman to be One of Us" - a very common miswording in Italy).
What have I done, in all this time? With horror, I realized I did almost nothing, for very many years. I just accepted it as normal. I cried sometimes - when injustice hit me hard enough you "must" notice.
What we all, men and women, have made, in all this time? All good will people became indignant. Many men's reaction was, rightly from their standpoint, to dissociate them from patriarchy. Many women vented their, once again right from their standpoint, deep resentment for a deep injustice (in which, differently than men, they had no choice whether to join the band of torturers of victims). We all, also, spent tons of thoughts on difference, feminism, new roles for men.
Yet I look back, and something asks me once more: "What we have all done, people of imagined good will?"
And, my goodness, another little voice says, we are all responsible. And will continue to be, until we don't agree to really change our perspective and go on.
This is very difficult for us Italians. We have never reckoned our past, so we condemn ourselves to live it day after day.
We have invented with dire creativity an immense amount of euphemisms to say Mussolini and the fascism did never exist. That the Italian People, all as a whole, has fought a victorious war against the nazi-fascists occupying the North (as if fascism has not been invented in Italy, to spread to Germany and other countries years after). That the exaltation of oneupmanship and violence construed in those twenty years did not corrupt the minds of all but a microscopic bunch of illuminated aristocrats (of various political tendencies). We removed this all, and we're still doing. So, we're continuing to fight our civil war while the rest of the world hurries on. Fortunately, we are now more bourgeois than we were decades ago, so we seldom escalate the fights beyond words (with some notable exceptions: women? "too sensitive" children?).
And we also had our last twenty years, this time by a generation of bad, selfish politicians we all in Italy blame, without anyone remembering we had a thrill after their promises and gave them our precious vote. Once again we're collectively bandwagoning with the new victors, who claim themselves years light beyond the "old habits" while perpetuating the very same scheme on which mr.Berlusconi and his household staff had so successfully thriven. Usual scheme: strong expectation for the new Luminous Man who will solve magically all our problems. Desire to abdicate our responsibilities, certain someone will absolve us after two prayers and some exterior sign of contrition (good for the circumstance).
What to do, them?
I imagine (and, don't underestimate the power of imagination) we could "turn the glove inside out".
First of all, to acknowledge sincerely how deeply has the culture of violence, abuse and reckless shrewdness has penetrated all of us. This will not be simple, because we all are part of the process.
We have "also" to (re?)gain an ability and the willingness to call things with their name. Since too many years we have nourished our minds with crappy euphemisms. One example: the fear to confront a changing world, taking the form of xenophby. Why not calling it for what it really is? Cowardice. Desertion from the responsibilities of life. Once we do, maybe the words of so many evil politicians will immediately lose their obscure fascination. Let's name crap the crap.
And, let's name goodness for what it is. Le's acknowledge that "sensitivity" is one form of strength. That the World is still much larger than we need - we just have to imagine the new lands, and explore them: something which will demand a lot of creativity. That being empathetic is an important way of being intelligent. That love matters, in its most general meanings, and with its corollary of "taking care".
Now mr.Berlusconi says he will retire from active politics. I don't know whether this will really happen (and have some doubt). But we sure have to go once forever beyond of him, his cult, and our habits thank to whom we construed him (we should never forget this: elected representatives are built from peoples).
In the specific case of violence against women, the first step is to eradicate from our minds all the crap about more or less natural hierarchies among the sexes, the "value" of "human resources", and the like. The one is the other. We're all precious, unique human individuals. Our prime duty is, developing our human potential. Together.
I guess having far exceeded the word limit. But I wanted to give this message. To both women and men: no one has something to gain from widespread violence, but maybe a few crazy murderers.