If feminism is 'starting from oneself' it is from me that I want to startfrom what I experienced afterwards the horrible murder of young Michelle in Primavalle (pictured) seeing two women holding signs (done professionally in some professional print shop, not in marker pen on bristol board) where it was reiterated in a peremptory manner, that it is not girls who need to be protected, but boys who need to be educated. Mantra that is repeated to us in every case of rape, the appeal to a fantomatic education of males that one doesn't know exactly what it is, and all of this increasingly causes me a sense of cognitive dissonance. I have written about it in recent days on social media, and I have found a sense of liberation on the part of many other women: at last one who had the courage to break through a wall of fear. Others, on the other hand, have criticised by referring to a political plan -which is not known exactly what it is-: if we wait for the time of the institutions, the slaughter of our daughters and sisters will continue without end.
What could be more 'political' than taking on younger women, of girls and girls? Why not shift maternal concerns to the level of collective interest that so many feel the need and (dare I say) even the duty to express?
I am struck by the ease and naivety with which many extol the Gulabi Indian gangs, the gangs of pink-clad women who roam the impoverished countryside of India armed with sticks, ready to defend poor sisters forced to leave their homes in the middle of the night for their bodily needs. Well, at home, the music is different: the patrols have a right-wing feel to them, demanding control of the territory is even more frightening and so we limit ourselves to naive walks to 'take back the streets'. Also because violence against women occurs everywhere: in the home, in the street and in the fancy nightclub, at work and at school.
The solution would be male education, the contours and content of which elude us.
So our safety depends on the moods, control and awareness achieved by males? The problem is that I don't trust males, and I don't trust them because I know them. Because to say that I want to defend myself, I must defend myself, would be to re-victimise women? Who says this and why, and to whom does it benefit? The majority of young males have grown up on bread, violence and pornography: how much can an even dutiful education in affectivity and healthy sexuality affect this reverse pedagogy, to this continuous desensitisation? And to whom would this burden fall? To the families? To the school? And on the basis of what content? Phy do those who repeat like a mantra the need not to repress but to educate support 'free' pornography and 'free' sex work?
I witness in dismay the naivety, again in my opinion induced and hetero-directed, of so many precociously eroticized girlswinking clothes from childhood, adultised attitudes in inappropriate contexts, a immoderate use of alcohol (binge drinking) that used to occur only in particularly marginalised and deprived contexts, without the necessary awareness of the risks and consequences that this may have. Unmistakable signals for the use and consumption of those males that one would like to educate with words. Authoritative newspapers (aligned on the story of males to be educated) that induce young girls to give up precarious and unprofitable job and economic prospects and throw themselves headlong into the new Eldorado of Only Fans and similar platforms.
While someone else is doing academics, what can I do? Why must I keep silent, why must I not warn a daughter and remind her that in theory, yes, she has the right to dress as she wants, drink as much as she wants, walk around freely even late at night and alone, and that no one has to hurt her for that. But even here -cognitive dissonance- we know very well that this is not the case, that it is just a pitiful lie and I was taught that lies should not be told especially to the youngest. And so, As a woman and a feminist, I want to be able to tell a daughter, real or symbolic, that she must protect herself, assess the contexts to understand what not to say or do in order to return home unharmed; I want to tell you that a rapist or murderer can be anywhere, the homeless but also the professional, the daddy's boy, the friend, the teacher, the doctor, the priest. He must know how to live in this world and live it to the full but always with his eyes open; I want to tell you that if you take alcohol and substances that impair your lucidity, you risk ending up at the mercy of men who are not your friends; that if she burns the candle at the seams, as we have all wanted to do, she must be awake and ready to handle the risks involved.
And since I don't have to and can't protect this daughter everywhere, I want her to learn to hit hard, like the Indian women we like to talk so much, to run away and strike the right blow to free herself from a fatal grip. But since not everyone knows how to kick and punch, I want her not only to impart this phantom education institutions also act harshly and severely, with no discounts for anyone, with penalties appropriate tohe physical and psychological devastation that violence brings to those who suffer it. But we struggle even to ask for this, the clinking of handcuffs frightens us and triggers mechanisms of self-censorship.
I wanted to start from me, from what I feel as a mother and what (I am convinced) every mother feels for her own daughter or for the girls she is in a relationship with. But perhaps it is precisely speaking as mothers that inhibits usmother is out of fashion these days. What if instead we started right here, if we used our life experience, our authority and our feelings to take the big leap, to rise from here to the plane of politics as the regulation of life in the city?
Cities are inhabited by women and girls who want to live happily. Who is it that manages, protects, supports and cares for the younger generation? Naming us as mothers is politics.
In response to, and in dialogue with, the previous paper on the role of mothers in relation to male violence.
That there is a need for a shared, feminist reflection on male violence and the actions to be taken as women and mothers, we are in complete agreement with you.
On the contrary, we take this opportunity to start a dialogue. Because we need to broaden it, share it and make it open. Everyone is invited to intervene. Careful, if possible, not to lapse into the polarising pro or con dynamic typical of social media. And of the current pseudo-political trend. With the simplicity of conversation between women.
All women. And precisely this, is a necessary practice, to be recovered, in our opinion. And as such, feminist. Being feminist is revolutionary, courageous, uncomfortable. Feminism is not a gut movement, a fashion, nor an electoral or marketing campaign. We are not for sale and neither are our lives and the lives of our daughters.
Feminism is about women. First and foremost. And defending, talking, reasoning about our lives, rights and security, is feminist.
As women and mothers of MaternaMente, we know what male violence means, we know it on our own skin and on that of our daughters and sisters near and far, present and past. This is a point on which 'unfortunately and finally', we have opened our eyes. Now, here, the problem is, how and what to do about it. How to transmit this awareness, which is also a strength, to our daughters.
Our analysis tells us that violence is systemic and institutional, that is, 'foundational' to the patriarchal society, made up of rules and language and thought, male-centric, within which globally and historically we are immersed. Made fragile and blackmailable by having introjected the dis-values of patriarchy, we have become, more or less, servants of this system of dis-values. This is why we believe we must recover our knowledge, our 'class' consciousness as women and as mothers. Recognise and name ourselves. As daily and political practice.
Only way to feel and be more secure. And no. It is not anti-male to unite among women. Reclaiming physical and metaphorical spaces just for us. It is necessary and urgent. And it is good for everyone.
The patriarchal system, however prosperous and strong, is an epochal failure, precisely because it is the enemy of women and the planet. It has built a society not fit for us, for children, for our health, for our rights. It is unashamedly before the eyes of each and every one of us.
And it is our responsibility not only to ourselves, to our sons and daughters first and foremost, to resume, stronger than ever, our journey in this regard, playing our rightful role: as adult female human beings. And this is 'maternal'. Whether we have a child of our own or not.
Maternal is also caring and taking charge, feeling and accepting responsibility. With love. Which is not a romantic (patriarchal) feeling but a faculty and form of intelligence. And if necessary, that force is also used. Do you know the she-wolf mother with the cub or the male on duty? Sometimes it takes a well-honed growl.
Genevieve Vaughan then tells us, that the Maternal is the System on which society is founded. Even the patriarchal one. And that the latter is like a parasite on the Maternal. Feminist.
So, a huge amount of work needs to be done on ourselves. Because we have to learn to recognise the millennial forms of deviation and manipulation. The mechanisms. The unhealthy addictions. Up to recognising precisely the violence. Because it is so embedded in every cell of our personal and political mind-body living that it is invisible. And we ourselves therefore become and are invisible. Erased. So much so that we even, like an immune system gone mad, defend the pathological and not the healthy. The violent and not the victims. This millenary erasure of ours is and has been enacted because we are that part of the human population which is the repository of that creative and generative power. And on this we refer to extensive readings and reflections. The consequences are obvious. Things do not work. When girls feel invisible for what they really are, when the maternal relationship is obliterated, and pathologised and criminalised as happens every day, even in the courts, thanks to ad hoc laws such as 54/2006 and the Gardnerian theories of parental alienation syndrome, now of the controlling, malevolent, adhesive, hostile mother, etc....) things happen. This is a call to a sense of responsibility and to 'stand on the facts'. The consequences are dramatic. Examples of this are a series of relational and psycho-social behaviours and problems typical of our times. Let us think of eating disorders for example. Let us think of addictions. Let us think of violence in the sexual sphere. Porn as an educational model, and woe betide you if you raise a doubt or make a criticism, that you are again erased and demonised. This is the mechanism. Pathologising and demonising the mother. The healthy immune response.
Technology and science are not at the service of, functional for the good-real of all and everyone in an 'in-divine' perspective typical of a sense of responsibility, but merely tools for maintaining power and control, of today-as-yesterday, again, for the very few, typical of childish-irresponsible behaviour. That is, they are only, as they are used, a 'recycled', decaying version of a rotten and toxic will by now. Which even if it made sense in a hypothetical, time-restricted context in the past, today forces us to eat our own shit. And pardon my language, but this is.
By making an effort, first and foremost, of awareness and responsibility therefore, we set an example. And thus a help to our daughters.
One has to talk to them. It has to be done gently and gracefully. Day after day.
Read stories and tales together and comment on them. Commenting on events and experiences. Taking the opportunities that they and life will put in front of us. We must not hurt them. Because young and innocent people still have that curiosity and trust in the world and in people, which is needed to grow into strong future women and future mothers (always understood in the biological sense and beyond). But it is also necessary to tell them uncomfortable things sometimes. Without drama and without fear. Because sooner or later, if they are lucky not to have a violent person already inside the house, they will have to come to terms with it. That is also a fact.
Where male violence is trivialised, obliterated and reduced to a conflict even in our courts, where the rapist or the feminicide is always 'justified' and the woman or girl reduced to 'the perpetrator of male violence', well, it is absolutely necessary to assume the 'maternal' role of discernment. Of judgement in a healthy sense. This is wrong. This is bad. This and this. And this is good, healthy, for this reason and this other.
Not to mention the instrumentalisation that institutional politics makes of violence, sexual violence, rape, feminicide (we know well that rape is historically an instrument of control and power, even in wars). If the rapist or the feminicide is a show business personality, the violence is spectacularised if it is acted out by the son of a right-wing politician, the left raises its indignation high, forgetting how many times the opposite has happened. In an eternal, self-fuelled theatre, which we are honestly rather tired of. An endless boredom. And meanwhile violence thrives. We die. Patriarchy thrives with it.
That said, what to do!? As we have already said, we do not trust propaganda solutions that are always devised from within the system. We believe in the strength of women, among women, for women. They in themselves, not representing, the patriarchal system. Provided, however, that we have unmasked the patriarchy outside and inside them. This is the first thing to do.
And we return to the discourse of responsibility. Because while violence is historically and contextually male. On all fronts. On the other, while we are trying to uncover this Pandora's box, we need to protect these daughters of ours. Biological and non-biological. And we need to do it well and immediately.
Instrument is, to name, the violence inherent in every sphere of life. To name male violence. But this concerns us adults first and foremost. We talk about the adult world and let's face it, it sucks enough in that respect. This alone is violent. Irresponsible. Misogynistic. And our daughters need to be able to not go out there without a minimum of protection, attention, that comes from awareness and not fear. Although a fair amount of fear is not bad and can sometimes save our lives.
As women and mothers, therefore, we also know that we need laws to suit us. And that far from wanting justicialism, a punitive apparatus that serves us is necessary. Then we can talk about re-education, etc....We do not want it. We do not want exemplary punishments but just punishments. And we want our daughters to know it themselves.
We are half of the human race. We vote. Patriarchal politics wants us to shut up or serve.
As women and mothers of MaternaMente, we know well that the attack on the maternal hides much more than individual cases of maljustice or violence. What happens outside the courts in the collective deafening silence is the same as what happens inside them. The result is always the same.
For one woman who denounces there are a hundred times as many who do not. Because if we denounce we suffer infamous and vicious re-victimisation. If we are mothers, therefore doubly blackmailable, for our children, things get much worse. We are erased along with the violence we suffer. We are ridiculed, debased, humiliated. Made poor. It costs money to denounce. Economic violence is one of the first. And violence costs us all.
Unable to fulfil the maternal role. Of normal, healthy protection in the face of domestic violence. Our children are taken away from us if you denounce. Italy is a country in clear retrogression with regard to real rights. And what about the propaganda of the commodification of 'motherhood'. Double objectification, that of the mother and that of the child.
Well, this is another of the disguises disguised as progressivism, through which patriarchy operates. Still undisturbed as ever. The method always the same. I reduce you to an object. And also symbolically and unconsciously I have created a dehumanising erasure, on a collective level.
And all this again and again weakens our voice and authority.
So what can we do as women and mothers?
Prepare our daughters. Yes. But not before we prepare ourselves. They learn from us. Mothers. Grown women of the human race. We must not give them pre-packaged content. Even when they see us facing difficulties. When we precisely give them our ear and love. In doing so, we are already building a different model of society. Let us start with us, or we will not produce any change. Let us strongly take back shared, active and political participation. Let us name the difference that makes us strong but also fragile in the face of the patriarchal system.
Our voice must be raised high. This one does. To fill that void of meaning.
That is why we do not believe in system propaganda aimed at so-called young people. Rather, we believe in work and playing the natural role of 'mothers'.
It is the adult model that is the problem. Let us take responsibility. Let us set the boys and girls free. Let us set an example. Let us not open (or at least try to close) the doors to indoctrination.
I do not know if I have managed to include at least one useful aspect for reflection.
Paola Pieri for MaternaMente