Let’s Talk Italian Feminism: #SexualDifference #Affidamento #Knowledge
My last name is Marani, so that makes me Italian, right? I mean we grow up understanding that our last names determine our heritage, at least that is how I have come to understood it my entire life. Marani is Italian, and I identify as a full-blooded Italian female. Both sides of my family are Italian. I love my last name, and I am honored to be a part of the Italian culture because it is within my identity. Before I had the opportunity to read and study Italian feminism I had little to no knowledge about feminist views within the Italian culture. However, after reading Carol Lazzaro-Weis’s “The Concept of Difference in Italian Feminist Thought: Mothers, Daughter, Heretics” I learned older generational Italian feminist were just as badass as older generational American feminist. Weiss tries to give us this whole structure development of sexual difference within Italian feminism. She starts off with extensional feminist — visibility of women and that you need to have this visibility of women. The Italian feminist culture did not really look at gender, but targeted their main focus on feminine relationship. My Italian ancestors shared the common goals to fight back against growing sexism and growing violence against women. I am part of a culture of women who have fought and refused to be known as the weaker, and I think that is remarking.
Italian feminist demanded difference — separate but NOT unequal status! In 1990, Italian feminist developed their ideas of sexual difference. With an emphasis on gender difference, men and women seemed very binary to them. It was too easy to fall into a trap of biological determinism, which was all used to create the problem in the first place. Italian feminist refused to the male-other, talking about this embodiment of being female and not wanting to put that down. They strongly believed in women and how they are not weaker. A lot of discourse in feminine theory was that women are not weaker. However, women minorities within the Italian culture have intended to ignore “theory,” because they thought of it as being a “man thing.” To Italian women, “theory” was basically a man’s occupation to theorize and they did not feel “theory” represented them. Women experience tradition and culture different from men, and the Italian feminist were trying to dispatch this. Which was also an approach to feminist theory within the United States in 1990 — why do not women identify with one another? It was because of competition being so male-oriented. Women were not trying to create a patriarchy, or deal with a matriarchy. A patriarchy is where women are forced to deal with their fathers and their husbands. Patriarchy has been critiqued as this negative thing, however it starts as this this positive nature of women’s difference, simply, a celebration of women.
Where, a matriarchy is where women have to deal with their own sons. Italian women refused any ‘top-down-system.’
Sexual difference has advocated several things for Italian feminist. Women have believed sexual difference does not demand equality. There is this logical fallacy and that is, whomever you are trying to be equal to will maintain power. In general, women have different experiences than men. Rather than having a problem with gender and sexual difference, just like the American feminist did, Italian feminist embraced gender and sexual difference.
One way they comprised gender and sexual difference was through affidamento. Italian feminist have advocated affidamento, which is a dominant idea within Italian feminism. Affidamento is an idea that difference in competence must be acknowledged and become part of feminist practice in order to make female specifically and female knowledge visible in all mixed social relations. According to Weis, affidamento “redefines the mother-daughter relationship a symbolic one,” (Weis, 34).
Affidamento is important because it is female social networking. However, there is a lot criticism around affidamento, in the fact that younger women need to bow down to older women, which creates this problem in keeping the discipline old, and not allowing it to move forward. We have this canon of old women. Gender is a developing concept and constantly changing, so therefore older women need to look at the younger women messages as well.
I am proud to be an Italian women and I do wonder what it would have been like to grow up and live within the era where Italian women first desired their rights and stood for their differences. This goes to show how imperative knowledge is. It is important that information, ideas, thoughts are discussed and are then passed down to other generations.