3 August 2022

Worker yes. Minister no. Woman neither

If there is one thing Italian politicians all agree on, it is the erasure of women, starting with language. While the 'progressive' left erases us with asterisks and schwa -fake-inclusive language that returns everything to the masculine- the right refuses to use the feminine for women of authority in institutions. But words are important because they make reality
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Incredibly -and with a secret vote, wickedly conceded by President Casellati- a few days ago, the Senate rejected the Maiorino amendment authorising women in the institutions to be called by their names. This is an issue of profound political importance.

There are many poets over the centuries who have made use of poetic licences, i.e. intentional grammatical, metrical and syntactic errors with the intention of emphasising a concept or altering the sonority of the composition. On 27 July 2022 in Palazzo Madama it was decided that institutions will also make use of a licence: the official language of the Senate Rules of Procedure may not use the Italian language correctly. Also women, who according to every dictionary and the Accademia della Crusca should be senators and ministers, will instead be senators and ministers. Or rather, will be deleted in the masculine passed off as neuter, in defiance of grammar.

The decision was sanctioned by 60 votes against, 16 abstentions and 152 votes in favour, a vote held by secret ballot at the behest of the right-wing parties. According to statements made following the outcome of the ballot, it is clear that It was the right-wing parties, in particular Fratelli d'Italia, that opposed the amendment promoted by Senator Alessandra Maiorino, a Pentastellata.

In 1934, the 'Thinking and Language', considered the masterpiece of L.S. Vygotsky, Soviet psychologist and pedagogue. According to the scholar, the development of an individual's psyche is influenced by the social context and the historical period in which they find themselves, and consequently by culture and language, quoting: "The most important fact, discovered through the genetic study of thought and language, is that their relationship undergoes many changes. Progress in thought and progress in language are not parallel. Their two development curves cross several times'..

Eminent scholars, such as B. Skinner, J. Piaget, J. Bruner and many others, have analysed the link between thought and language, expanding and deepening the same thesis: language and thought influence each other and are never independent of each other.

It is therefore no coincidence that the feminine, in the definition of a profession, only becomes an issue when it comes to professions considered to be of authority or prestige. That is why, despite having the same ending, we can have waiter and waitress, nurse and nurse but not engineer and engineer. Similarly, we can go to a tailor or seamstress, but to most people it is cacophonous lawyer instead of advocate, arbitra instead of arbitrator: medico can apply to a person, while medica can only apply to inanimate objects, such as a car. No exception can be made for terms such as rector/rector, director/director, minister/minister, senator/senator. The language is a product of current culture, and also in it we expresses patriarchal thinking: the places and professions of authority as well as those considered most prestigious must be male.

It is no coincidence that more and more often in the world, politicians hesitate to answer the question "what is a woman?"a word that is becoming almost taboo, but which is instead perfectly capable of recognising women when there is an opportunity to invisibilise them, erase them from language and culture and finally exploit them by virtue of their gender.

To the voters, however, I pose a question: it is acceptable for a political party to refuse to recognise the identity of the 52% of the population, going so far as to pretend to ignore grammar and the difference between grammatical gender and semantic gender?

There is also another side of the coin: those in parliament who are indignant about the non-approval of the Maiorino decree, but on the other hand sympathise with the self-id that empties the feminine of its biological identity. Parties who would gladly open up to an 'inclusive' language to such an extent as to erase the very definition of 'woman', to make it a vague idea conceived by male minds.

Valentina Aquenne

Still on the subject of language, a podcast by Claudia Arletti for La Repubblica.

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