Marina Terragni: "There is a desire to erase women, their bodies, their difference".

An interview with writer Marina Terragni: Zan bill, the language of inclusion, feminism and transphobia. "I am not a gender, I am a woman".
Condividi questo articolo

Original article here

Marina Terragni corrects me straight away: 'I am not a historic feminist, I am simply a feminist'. For some time, before the DDL Zan (a bill presented by Italian deputy Alessandro Zan) matter became current in Italy, Terragni - writer and philosophy lecturer on contract - has been dealing with one of the most controversial issues in the western feminist world, gender identity: a concept that has divided feminists in two, those who believe that the category of woman should be rethought and extended to include people who are not born biologically female (such as trans women) and those, instead, who think that one cannot be a woman regardless of their bodies so one cannot simply deny biological reality.

"Even in Spain,' says Terragni, 'a bill is being discussed whereby anyone can self-declare their gender identity, i.e. say they are male or female, regardless of their birth sex. In Italy, there is not even a real discussion on the issue. The subject has been surreptitiously introduced into a bill, that of Mr Zan, which aims to combat violence against homosexuals and transsexuals, about which nobody has any objections, of course; while there is much to object and to be said about gender identity, not least that I am not a gender, but I am a woman. Why can't we talk about this freely in Italy?".

The concept of gender identity was coined in the 1990s by the American philosopher Judith Butler in her essay Gender Troubles, in which she argued not only that gender is constructed by the social norm, but that there is no biological sex pre-existing to gender, i.e. that even sex (male, female) is a social construction. The dispute might seem academic were it not for the fact that, especially in America, support for these theories is at the root of a cultural war that has resulted in slander, dismissal and marginalisation. "The news", says Terragni, "is that intolerance is also taking root in Italy".

Three weeks ago, the American writer Rebecca Solnit refused to be interviewed by Marina Terragni at the Mantua Literature Festival: "She demanded to read the questions I wanted to ask her beforehand and, considering them transphobic, she vetoed me".

Were they provocative questions? 

They were good questions, and almost all about America today.

I think this is the first time something like this has happened in Italy.

No, you are wrong.

Had it happened before?

It happened that, because of some of the ideas I have, people wanted to ban me from University. Now I can finally say it.

Are you kidding? When did it happen? Where did it happen?

During this academic year I was scheduled to teach a course in Philosophy and Ethics of Communication in a master's programme at the IUAV University of Venice, a completely different subject from feminist issues. Yet, a fortnight before I was due to start teaching, Maria Luisa Frisa, who runs the degree course, called me to ask me to resign from the post because, she said, 'Certain ideas of yours are unwelcome to me and to the students'.

What about her?

I told her that she could forget it, and that if she wanted to kick me out of the university she would have to assume her responsibility for it by rescinding the contract unilaterally with a letter explaining exactly which one of my ideas were incompatible with teaching and why.

She didn't do that, I imagine.

No, but, on the other hand, now that my course is over, I have written a letter to the Rector of the University in which I recount the events that took place. We'll see what happens next. In the meanwhile, for the first time, I'm talking about it.

But in America you lose your job because of these things: you're not asked to leave.

Can you realise the pressure you're under? I don't live off the university job, I have other sources of income. Yet, how can you withstand the pressure if you only have that? It's obvious: to protect yourself, you will adapt to the ideas that are deemed socially acceptable. Do you realise that this is a path leading to conformism? I assure you that, even in Italy, there are professors who do not say what they really think for fear of being targeted. This was not a problem of mine: it's a problem of freedom of teaching and thinking.

I think that if they had taken you out, they would not have got away with it.

Well of course: I would have put it in the newspapers.

And I also think that the newspapers would have defended you.

And it is a good thing that, in Italy and in Europe, we are still scandalised by gags. I think that this is the point: in response to the menace coming from the other side of the West, Europe must become the continent of free thought, the home of free speech, I consider this its historic task.

Why, in your opinion, have you been accused of transphobia?

Because it is a trick that works well in disqualifying criticism. You say transphobic and suddenly an argument becomes the result of irrational and uncontainable fear.

Isn't it?

Me, transphobic? What do they know? In the 1980s, when the only ones who cared about trans people were those few militant radicals, I fought, along with Pina Bonanno, to force the Italian state to accept the change of sex. This is how in 1982 the law "Legge 14 Aprile 1982, n. 164." came about, which allowed Pina to be called Pina instead of Giuseppe, the name she had at birth.

What has changed today?

That people now claim the unilateral right to proclaim themselves a woman or a man, beyond any surgical, pharmacological or even administrative process. I self-declare and self-identify in my sexual identity and I demand that the community recognise it, without a peep.

And what is the problem?

The problem is that this undermines the symbolic dimension of the human being. The masculine and the feminine concern the whole of human civilisation, not just the individual. For this reason, self-certification is not enough, but instead, we need a process that takes into account the rights of the individual and those of the community.

But why can't the human symbolic also be discussed?

Because the masculine and feminine are rooted in bodies. This is not a matter of fantasy. The sexual binary - male, female - is an incontrovertible fact. No theory can subvert this fact.

Are you saying that biology matters more than culture?

I am saying that every time the reality of the body has been denied in history, women have paid dearly for it. Carla Lonzi wrote, "Let's Spit on Hegel" (1970), to challenge the idealism with which patriarchy has subjugated women. Now here we go again: in a new and different way. To proclaim oneself a woman is claimed to be enough to be one. Can you see what is happening? There is a strong desire to erase women, their bodies and their difference.

What's the point of that?

Sigmund Freud spent his whole life trying to solve the female enigma and imagined that women felt envy for men's bodies, so-called penis envy, a feeling that no woman I have ever met has ever felt in her life.

But what about it?

And instead, if there is envy, it is the envy that men feel for the reproductive power of women.

Does woman equal mother?

I didn't say that.

Then what do you mean?

I will tell you with a definition by Luisa Muraro.

Go ahead.

A woman is a human being who can be a mother. I underline can, not must. This is the power that men envy women: the power to generate, a power that no technique, however miraculous, has yet succeeded in giving to a man.

You know very well that there are those who would dispute this view.

Of course, there have been women who have transitioned into men and then given birth, but it is not the man who has given birth, it is their female body, their sex that has remained intact despite the change. It seems difficult to deny this.

Who wants to deny women, in your opinion?

The new language of inclusion, for example. The Lancet, one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world, instead of 'women' it wrote 'bodies with vaginas'. In other words, it has wiped out more than half the world's population in order not to discriminate against a small minority of people.

Are you also against political correctness?

Forget about political correctness: have you ever read 'bodies with prostates'?

No, not yet.

That explains what the erasure of women is.

Judith Butler, on the other hand, says let's extend the category of women to include trans women.

Shall we talk about facts?

Let's talk about facts.

For all my time as a militant in Italian feminism - and I am talking about a few decades now - I will have seen only one trans woman who asked to attend our meetings. Naturally, she was accepted. So I gather that the others are not very interested in feminism.

What does feminism mean to you?

It is a fight against all stereotypes: starting with those narratives according to which the female has to play with dolls and the male with football. Today, however, I observe a worrisome trend in the opposite direction: the surgical adaptation to the stereotype. You are male and you like dolls? Around you someone will wonder if you were not born in the wrong body. Not least because, in some cases (it has to be said too), it is easier to accept the supposed natural 'mistake' than homosexuality.

Aren't you making it too easy?

Do you know how many mothers call me in tears because they don't know what to do with their sons, or rather daughters? Eight out of ten transitions today are of girls.

How do you explain this?

By the fact that the world has changed a lot, but being a woman continues to be very difficult.

It seems to me that there is a subtext in your speech.

What is it?

That males are afraid of women.

That's true.

In your opinion, what do they fear precisely?

I once did a little survey of my male friends. I asked them, "What does manhood mean to you?" The answer I found to be the most accurate was: "Control".

Why accurate?

Because men are terrified of female freedom. They experience it as a threat to your existence. In the Islamic world, for example, they evoke a catastrophic pre-Mohammedan era in which women had no restraints, walked around naked in the streets, had sex freely: it's representative of what can happen if you don't keep women in control: the destruction of civilisation.

Us men, however, are not all Taliban.

But even in the fantasies of you western males, there is the nightmare of the sexually voracious, uncontainable, uncontrollable woman, a nightmare rooted also in the fact that the woman can repeat the sexual act several times, while the man cannot.

Does this bring us closer to the Taliban?

The root of control anxiety is the same, for a Taliban and for a Western male. What changes is the gradation of this anxiety: violent for a Taliban, supervised for a European male like you.

Ah well, that relieves me.

Or, at least, I hope so.

--

HuffPost
Nicola Mirenzi
03/10/2021 11:37

Translated by Angela Tacchini


Buona parte delle notizie pubblicate da Feminist Post non le leggerai altrove. Per questo è importante sostenerci, anche con un piccolo contributo: Feminist Post è prodotto unicamente grazie a lavoro volontario di molte e non gode di alcun finanziamento.
Se pensi che il nostro lavoro possa essere utile per la tua vita, saremo grate anche del più piccolo contributo.

Puoi darci il tuo contributo cliccando qui: Patreon - Feminist Post
   — oppure —
Puoi inviare a: ASSOCIAZIONE CULTURALE BLU BRAMANTE
Causale obbligatoria: FEMINIST POST
IBAN: IT80C0200812914000104838541
Potrebbe interessarti anche
24 Settembre 2022
SPAGNA: SOCIALISTE CONTRO LA LEY TRANS
A differenza delle loro omologhe italiane del PD e della sinistra schierate per la libera identità di genere, le progressiste spagnole rompono con le politiche transattiviste del PSOE in difesa delle donne e dei bambini. Nel loro manifesto gli ottimi argomenti contro quella che, se approvata, potrebbe essere la peggiore legge transattivista del mondo
Rompendo con il suo partito, il PSOE, e lanciando un segnale alle donne di sinistra europee, generalmente schierate in difesa del dirittismo transattivista, la Federación de Mujeres Progresistas lancia un coraggioso manifesto contro la Ley Trans voluta dalla maggioranza di governo in Spagna (PSOE e Podemos) e in via di approvazione con iter d'urgenza, senza un effettivo dibattito parlamentare né un'ampia discussione pubblica. L'iniziativa nasce anche in risposta alla clamorosa rottura tra il femminismo storico spagnolo -riunito nel cartello Contraborrado- […]
Leggi ora
14 Settembre 2022
Forse l'identità di genere non esiste
Se a dubitare è la biologa Anna Fausto-Sterling, la prima a parlarne negli anni Novanta, ispiratrice di Judith Butler e fondatrice delle gender theory, allora forse siamo a un clamorosissimo e definitivo giro di boa. Fermate le leggi trans prima che sia troppo tardi!
Se Judith Butler è The Queen of Gender, Anna Fausto-Sterling è la sua dea: zoologa, biologa e docente di gender study -oggi alla Brown University- partendo dalla rara condizione genetica dell'intersessualità nei primi anni Novanta è stata la prima ad attaccare il concetto di binarietà sessuale, sostenendo che la sessualità è uno spettro e che si possono individuare almeno 5 sessi ("ma dai, non era mica una teoria, ero ironica, era solo una provocazione" ha detto in seguito. Ma invano). […]
Leggi ora
11 Settembre 2022
Trans-Europa: Irlanda, UK, Spagna, le leggi-gender ai primi posti nelle agende politiche
Mentre la nuova premier britannica Liz Truss lavora per bloccare l'autocertificazione di genere in Scozia, il governo iberico impedisce il dibattito parlamentare sulla Ley Trans, che consente il cambio di sesso perfino ai bambini di 12 anni, per andare ad approvare in fretta e furia: per questo le femministe spagnole rompono con la sinistra e aprono il dialogo con il Partito Popolare. Intanto in Irlanda un professore viene arrestato per aver rifiutato di usare il linguaggio fluido
Un professore di una scuola cristiana irlandese, Enoch Burke, è stato sospeso e quindi arrestato per aver rifiutato di appellare uno studente transgender con un pronome neutro. Intanto la nuova premier britannica Liz Truss starebbe cercando di bloccare i piani della Scozia per consentire l'autoidentificazione per le persone transgender (self-id) e avrebbe chiesto agli avvocati consigli su come "mettere in pausa o prevenire" le riforme. Truss, responsabile del brief sulle uguaglianze oltre che ex-ministro degli esteri, è stata determinante nell'escludere […]
Leggi ora
12 Agosto 2022
Società Italiana di Pediatria: bloccare la pubertà dei bambini disforici non causa problemi permanenti. Ma vari studi dimostrano il contrario
UK, Svezia, Finlandia, USA: in gran parte del mondo è rivolta contro i puberty blocker che possono danneggiare in modo irreversibile la salute di bambine e bambini. Chiude la clinica Tavistock di Londra, mille famiglie si preparano a una class action in difesa di figlie e figli che non sono stati curati in modo adeguato, molti pediatri americani attaccano la loro associazione di categoria che spinge per la somministrazione di questi farmaci. Ma per la società dei pediatri italiani questi problemi non esistono
Secondo la Società Italiana di Pediatria gli effetti dei bloccanti della pubertà (puberty blocker) utilizzati per trattare bambine e bambini con disforia di genere sono perfettamente REVERSIBILI: significa che se la bambina/o cambia idea riguardo al proprio proposito di "cambiare sesso" e sospende la "terapia", il suo sviluppo riprenderà normalmente, senza alcun effetto definitivo e/o problema di salute. Le cose non stanno affatto così. Gli effetti della terapia con puberty blocker non sono affatto "completamente reversibili", come dimostrato da svariati […]
Leggi ora
6 Agosto 2022
California, transificio di bambine/i
Lo stato americano si propone come meta di turismo "sanitario" per le/i minori che non riescono ad accedere alla transizione nel luogo in cui vivono. Esautorando i genitori e sollevando gli operatori da ogni rischio di causa in caso di successivi "pentimenti". Intanto in UK, dopo la chiusura della Tavistock, occhi puntati su una clinica scozzese dove il modello sperimentale (bloccanti della pubertà e chirurgia) continua a essere applicato
Negli Stati Uniti è in corso una vera e propria guerra sull’ideologia dell’identità di genere e la sua promozione nelle scuole. Una “guerra culturale” che vede contrapposte le élite, che finanziano e promuovono la gender ideology, e la gente comune che vi si oppone (vedere qui il caso Disney). Mentre Biden fin dal primo giorno ha fatto molte concessioni legislative all’attivismo trans a livello federale, i repubblicani hanno intercettato lo scontento della cittadinanza con diverse contro-leggi a livello statale, come […]
Leggi ora
29 Luglio 2022
UK. Settimana nera per il trans-patriarcato glitterato: chiusa la Tavistock, gender clinic per bambini. E Allison Bailey vince in tribunale: fu discriminata per le sue opinioni gender critical
L'ideologia dell'identità di genere sotto attacco in UK: il servizio sanitario nazionale ordina la chiusura della clinica delle transizioni pediatriche e indica la strada delle terapie psicologiche. E Allison Bailey vince la causa al tribunale del lavoro con il sostegno di JK Rowling: il datore di lavoro condannato a risarcirla per averla messa "sotto inchiesta" a causa delle sue opinioni gender critical. Su suggerimento di Stonewall, che ne esce con la reputazione a pezzi
CHIUDE TAVISTOCK, CLINICA DELLE TRANSIZIONI PER MINORI: L’APPROCCIO "AFFERMATIVO" (FARMACI E CHIRURGIA) E' PERICOLOSO PER LE/I GIOVANI PAZIENTI La notizia è clamorosa: il servizio sanitario nazionale britannico (NHS) ha ordinato la chiusura della clinica di genere Tavistock & Portman per non aver saputo garantire la sicurezza dei piccoli pazienti, per la maggior parte ragazze (articolo integrale qui). La clinica è stata accusata da più parti di avere avviato frettolosamente molte minori, buona parte delle quali affette di disturbi dello spettro […]
Leggi ora