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The Struggle to Address a Deep-Rooted Patriarchal Society

In Italy, a country with a long history of patriarchy, gender inequality continues to persist. Despite various efforts to raise awareness about violence against women and call for legislative change, the country remains among the lowest ranked in Europe when it comes to gender equality. This article will explore the complex dynamics behind Italy’s patriarchal society, as well as examine the impact of initiatives like “Il Muro delle Bambole” (the Wall of the Dolls) and documentaries such as “Il Corpo delle Donne” (“Women’s Bodies”).

High-Profile Cases Highlighting the Issue of Domestic Violence

A notorious case from 2020 saw 80-year-old Antonio Gozzini cleared of brutally murdering his 62-year-old wife, Cristina Maioli, due to experiencing a “raptus” or delirious jealousy. The court’s ruling reflected the leniency towards domestic violence cases in Italy, further perpetuating a culture where abuse is often overlooked.

Italy’s Position Relative to Other European Countries

Although Italy does not have the highest rate of domestic violence in Europe, its low ranking in terms of gender equality can be attributed to other factors such as wage disparity, making it difficult for women to leave abusive marriages because they cannot support themselves financially. In 2023, Italy dropped even lower in the rankings compared to the previous year based on these factors.

Raising Awareness and Sparking Conversations on Sexism and Violence

Lorella Zanardo’s 2009 documentary, “Il Corpo delle Donne”, started a national conversation in Italy about the link between sexism, sexual assault, and domestic violence. By examining the pervasive objectification of women in Italian media, the documentary aimed to challenge viewers’ perspectives and encourage a shift towards greater gender equality.

The Wall of the Dolls: An Art Installation with a Social Message

The Wall of the Dolls (Il Muro delle Bambole) is an art installation in Milan that raises awareness of violence against women. The display features dolls adorned with messages condemning gender-based violence, each representing a different victim. This poignant exhibit serves as a visual reminder of the undeniable issue of domestic violence.

  • Heightened visibility for the issue of domestic violence
  • Appeals to diverse audiences through powerful imagery
  • Inspires critical reflection on societal norms

Fighting Gender Inequality at the Political Level

Despite Italy having a female prime minister, some critics argue that she has not done enough to advocate for gender equality in language and representation. Lorella Zanardo notes that rather than embracing the fact that Italy has one of the few female leaders globally, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has chosen to use the masculine article ‘il’ before the word ‘prime minister.’ She believes a woman in such a position could be more proactive in promoting progressive change regarding language and gender inclusiveness, especially for younger generations.

The Continued Push for Change in Italian Society

Although Italy had a prominent women’s movement in the 1970s, it has since become more difficult to understand Italy’s current position on gender equality. As Lorella Zanardo states, “It’s difficult to explain but this movement was very political [and] had a very clear political connotation.” Many challenges remain in dismantling deep-rooted patriarchy and working towards a more gender-inclusive society, but continued conversations about sexism and violence are essential.

Key Initiatives for Change

  • Implementing and enforcing legal protections against domestic violence
  • Addressing wage disparity to empower women financially
  • Raising awareness and education on the issue of gender-based violence
  • Spotlighting female leaders who challenge patriarchal norms

In conclusion, tackling gender inequality and domestic violence in Italy requires continuous efforts from various sectors of society including national media portrayals, art installations, legislation, and political representation. By amplifying the voices of those affected by this issue and facilitating an ongoing conversation about gender equality, Italy has the potential to make significant strides towards progress.


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