30 January 2021

A gift: 10 practices for women who love politics

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The document which we are proposing is the result of the reflections of women who are passionate about politics, and is aimed at women who are already in institutions or who are interested in becoming part of them, those who aspire to undertake governmental action, and those who work in groups, associations and movements, proposing 10 practices that can accompany and make the political desire of each person more conscious. We propose it as a gift also bearing in mind the occasion of the upcoming local elections in many Italian cities.

FOREWORD

This document signed by 25 women is the result of a discussion path on women's authority practices inside and outside political institutions, which took place in Mestre between 2018 and 2019 and was divided into five meetings, also involving women from other cities (Venice, Mirano, Chioggia, Vicenza).

After the months of lockdownThe final form has been finalised and the document is now ready to go beyond its original context. The shared bet is that it will be a a useful tool to make people aware of the meaning of a policy invented by women, to rise to the challenges of the present, articulated here in ten elementary practices that can be combined and multiplied in the different contexts of social, political and working life, giving rise to new narratives.

The debate was attended by women who are passionate about politics, who recognised that they were valuable to each other, and whose training took place in different contexts: the feminism of difference, associationism, the ecological and pacifist movement, local administration, some left-wing parties, participation in the government of one's own city or country, involvement in the professions, in art, in philosophical and spiritual research.

All the signatories have a history of public speaking out in their own cities and each has experienced in different places, times and ways theto the strength of female authority, recognising its extraordinary effectiveness alongside the difficulties and obstacles.

The "Precious" Association of Venice initiated the discussion on practices. The political relationship with the philosopher Annarosa Buttarelli led some to get personally involved in the project. "Women in Government Advanced Training SchoolIt is committed to the transmission of women's knowledge, which has always been at work in history.

The writing of the ten practices document presupposes relational paths of experimentation and subjective transformation, years of political work, readings and encounters capable of opening up a higher search for meaning. There are also projects carried out, battles fought, passages and symbols rediscovered.

The document addresses, in particular:

  • younger womenactive in the movements, for whom 'political struggle' means above all demonstrating, claiming rights, publicly denouncing violence and injustice, but who still do not know the most significant legacy of feminism: the relational freedom
  • to those operating in institutional politics, so that they recognise the forms of female governance already in place as a precedent of strength and question their own actions, confronting the practices invented by women's politics
  • men alli, so that they radically change their way of behaving, doing and thinking about politics.

We hope that this document, with appropriate mediation, will generate a wide-ranging discussion between different political generations and foster processes of subjective awareness and transformation.

TEN PRACTICES IN WHICH WE RECOGNISE OURSELVES

- The practice of making a difference
The difference is first and foremost made within oneself. It is practised concretely when one enters into relationships with women and men who are aware of it. Making a difference means constructing day by day the free sense of being a woman or a man. The feminism to which we refer affirms the value of difference and puts life at the centre of politics rather than the exercise of force and power in all its forms. The sexes are two, not reducible to each other, different, not equal. Women are neither a class nor a category nor even a 'gender' to be included in the concept of 'humanity'. Each and every one of them speaks not from universal abstractions but starting with oneselfUnderstanding this is essential to unleash the power of difference.

- The practice of radicality
Radicality is going beyond the position of claim or opposition to the logic and games of power, and to relate to others, taking the affirmative position of desire. Starting from desire and relationships, it is possible to think up new institutions, more incisive paths for the transformation of reality, of the way of representing, thinking and naming it. We are radical, for example, when we ask ourselves whether problems affect us closely, concern us directly, giving up speaking in general and in the abstract. We are radical if we actually get to the bottom of the issues, being clear about the real context in which they are presented, listening to women and men who live them, comparing the different solutions proposed. Each of us has taken consent and credit away from the patriarchal system and is betting on the possibility already in place of an 'female governance of reality' leveraging real life and relationships.

- The practice of female freedom
Practising one's freedom is the highest exercise of our subjectivity. Freedom as we understand it is relational, not individual. It is linked to the care of relationships and is not an absolute value. It is strengthened when we recognise each other's freedom. It manifests itself on the ridge between freedom and necessity, in the recognition of limits and in the awareness that our freedom depends on that of other women. We do not think of freedom as an individual's right enshrined in the law or in democracy, but as the gain of the 'other'.female humanity that has struggled throughout history to be true to itself and to realise its desires.

- The practice of relationships
Female relationships, a place of exchange between two who are always 'odd'. each other, are the strength we can bring to bear in order to be more happily and faithfully ourselves. In this inequality, and not on the flattening of the 'one is worth one', runs most of women's energy, freedom and politics. The first necessary step is to become aware of the deep connection with the mother, our real and symbolic originon which the desire to enter into privileged relationships with other women is based. Relationships are not already given. It is not enough to declare that one is in a relationship: there is a path to follow, it involves honest and rigorous work on oneself that makes one available for subjective transformation. Two women in relation to each other do not form a closed, excluding or self-sufficient place, but are instead the most effective lever. so that two by two a network of women's strength can grow in the world to counter the logic of power.

- The practice of female genealogies
Practising genealogy means refer to the words and actions of other women who have spoken the truth before us and adjust according to their own reasons, in fidelity to subjective experience. This is a vertical" relationship that integrates relationships in the present. How much independence of thought and autonomy of action did the women who came before us exercise? What mediations did they put in place? Starting from these questions, we can find the thread of female genealogies made invisible by the primacy of the male word. When we need to find our bearings in the various fields in which we are engaged or when we are called upon to make decisions, let us refer to the genealogies of female knowledge, we ask for help from influential women, not only those of the present but also those of the past. Let us use their advice as a basis for our actions. There is a symbolic feminine orderA wealth of creative practices, of sapiential and spiritual languages, of teachings to which every woman can refer at any time in her life, "sources" from which to draw and from which to receive precious "gifts".

- The practice of gratitude
Recognition is knowing how to honour the "debt' of gratitude to the mother and to all those women who throughout our lives have encouraged us, supported us, and have been able to build mediations that have been important to us. It is essential to ask ourselves to whom we owe the awareness that we have achieved, to recognise the good that we receive from other women and also from some men, from the territory, from the environment. It is important to make visible the relationships that support us and authorise us to go ahead and relaunch in the contexts in which we act. "Recognition' is a universal feminine word that indicates the transition to a higher plane of civilisation. This is where love for the world comes from, which is the starting point for real politics.

- The practice of promoting female social authority
There is feminine authority wherever we take care of living together, heal wounds, make meaningful gestures, find the right words in times of conflict, invent effective mediations with the primary motivation being not personal gain but the desire to improve the world. Promoting women's authority means first and foremost paying attention to women (and men) who operate in real contexts with competence, generosity and the ability to weave relationships. It is not enough just to look at these positive social figures, who are many but often invisible and anonymous. It is necessary to point them out as examples and to promote their work in practice.

- The practice of love for the city and the place where one lives
It is a practice that stems from a a radical change in outlook: no longer being alienated from the city and its surroundings and indifferent to those who live near them, our gaze is directed towards the community of which we are part. This practice of love takes place in the contexts, here and now, starting from the space around the houses we inhabit, without rigid separations between inside and outside, between public and private, between public and private, between public and private and between public and private.what happens in the 'small' of real contexts and what happens in the 'big' of the world.
The proximity constraint, Attention to those and those who live next door, to their neighbours and in the different contexts of social, political and working life thus becomes the foundation of political action. Loving the place we inhabit involves caring for it, ensuring a conscious presence that cares for material life and at the same time cares for the quality of public life. Things can change for the better when attentive and sensitive women - but also men free from the need for primacy - are at work, aware of the fragility and interdependence between living beings.

- The practice of desire
It is a question of never ceasing to wonder about what moves us on a deep, even unconscious level, and knowing how to relate political confrontation with others to the reasons of desire. When, for example, one runs for election: what is the desire that drives us? Love for the world? Trying to respond to demands for freedom and justice? To work for the protection of the environment and the care of the land? How much, on the other hand, do ambitions for power or mere personal prominence weigh in? Women's desire for freedom opens the way to political action that gives space to creative imagination, fertile thought and artistic practices.

- The practice of transcendence and spirituality
Women today who wish to be involved in the governance of a company, a city or a nation with the aim of restoring dignity to politics and the economy, wresting them away from the brutal management of power and the omnivorous logic of profit, cannot do without a inner journey that will lead them to an authentic transformation, in relationship with other free and conscious women. It is political to feel a connection with the earth and other living things, with natural beauty, with the beauty of artistic expression. It is political to be able to take limits into account. In many women's practices, such as the repetition of caring gestures, the patience of teaching how to speak, silence, cultivating a garden, gathering medicinal herbs, weaving, calligraphy, there has always been a inseparable link between spirituality and material wisdom. These practices kept women close to an idea of what is sacred and at the same time to the necessities of existence, without hierarchies or divisions between spirit and matter, leading to the sources of life itself, generating an unexpected encounter with the living present and with the breath that runs through history. These practices are political because they counteract the loss of humanity that we are suffering in this present.

Alessandra De Perini, Franca Marcomin, Maria Teresa Menotto, Luisella Conti, Luana Zanella, Nadia Lucchesi, Désirée Urizio, Silvana Giraldo, Renata Cibin, Luciana Talozzi, Carla Neri, Antonella Cunico, Laura Guadagnin, Grazia Sterlocchi, Lucia Catalano, Paola Morellato, Annalisa Faverin, Grazia Guarenti, Paola Pattaro, Cristina Bergamasco, Laura Bellodi, Daniela Bettella, Maria Voltolina, Stefania Bertelli, Renata Mannise.


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