This weekend, demonstrations took place in major Italian cities to mark the UN’s international day for the elimination of violence against women. Many on the Italian left used the opportunity to suggest Giorgia Meloni is aiding and abetting the murder of Italian women — even though she is Italy’s first female prime minister.
The largest protest was in Rome where demonstrators, mainly women — 500,000 according to the organizers — brandished placards saying “The Patriarchy Kills,” “We Support Female Fury Against The Fascist Meloni Government” and “Meloni Fascist Zionist Collaborator.” Palestinian flags fluttered surreally alongside LGBTQIA2-S rainbow flags, as I think they are now called. Elly Schlein, leader of the main left-wing opposition Partito Democratico, was there and told journalists: the only way to stop “the slaughter” of Italian women is to “uproot the culture of patriarchy.”
This year’s global protest to stop violence against women was given huge impetus in Italy by the horrific murder near Venice earlier this month of a young Italian woman, Giulia Cecchettin, by her ex-boyfriend who has confessed. She was stabbed multiple times, just days before she was due to graduate in biomedical engineering from Padua University
Not content with suggesting Meloni is culpable for failing to crackdown on the patriarchy, the organizers of the Rome protest, who define themselves as “Ingovernable Transfeminists Against The Patriarchy,” expressed solidarity in their press release with “the Palestinian people.” They added that Israel is “a colonial state” whose mission is “to cancel the Palestinian territories and above all its people,” and Meloni’s right-wing government “a front rank participant.”
Naturally, there was no space in the press release for solidarity with the Israeli victims of mass rapes on October 7, let alone condemnation of the Hamas terrorists responsible. Quizzed by journalists at the demonstration, one organizer said “obviously” she felt solidarity with “the raped Israeli women” but Israel is “an occupying state.”
Nor was there mention at the demonstration that in Italy more than 40 percent of those reported for crimes of sexual violence against women, and more than 40 percent of those jailed for such offenses, are foreigners who make up only 9 pe cent of the population. No one talked about female genital mutilation, honor killings, or child brides.
For days, Italian newspapers and talk-shows (most are left-wing, as in so many countries in Europe) have been chock-a-block with opposition politicians, feminists and phony experts attacking the “Meloni-sponsored patriarchy.”
“Giulia Cecchettin — A State Murder?”, for instance, was the rhetorical title of an episode last week of Otto e Mezzo, which is one of Italy’s most famous talk shows, hosted by prominent champagne socialist Lilli Gruber.
As a rule, Gruber’s show, which is broadcast every weekday evening, has only four guests who are invariably all left-wing — except one from the right who acts as both fig leaf and punchbag. She is shamelessly hostile to the right but if anyone points this out she appears genuinely shocked. No doubt she really does think that left-wing and objective are the same thing.
She began by quoting a letter Giulia’s twenty-four-year-old sister Elena had written in which she described her sister’s murder as a murder by the state because monsters such as Filippo Turetta who kill their partners or ex partners are “the healthy sons of the patriarchy and of rape culture.”
Gruber then asked her star guest, Serena Dandini — a feminist author, broadcaster and former communist, if she agreed. Of course she did. She said that Elena’s words “reflect the words of everyone, most of them are women, who has worked for years on (the question of) violence against women.” Gruber then trotted out the left’s default description of Meloni as a supporter of this patriarchy.
“No one can deny that in Italy there’s a powerful patriarchal culture and that in power this destra-destra is not exactly opposing it,” she said as if this were an incontestable fact. Gruber has recently started to call Meloni and her right-wing coalition, not centro-destra (centre-right) as most Italian commentators do, but destra-destra (far right, roughly speaking).
Incensed, Meloni posted on her Facebook page, which has close to three million followers: “I just don’t understand how certain people have the nerve to exploit even the most horrible tragedies to attack the government.” In her next episode, Gruber accused Meloni of being a threat to democracy for criticizing a journalist such as herself.
The trouble with the claim that men in countries like Italy kill their female partners or ex-partners because Italy is a patriarchy is that it just does not stand up to serious scrutiny.
These days Italy is not exactly dominated by male supremacy. As a few brave Italian male commentators have dared to point out, Giorgia Meloni herself founded her party, Fratelli d’Italia, from scratch and within ten years became Italy’s first woman prime minister. Look, too, at the EU of which Italy is a founding member. Women hold three of the top posts: Ursula von der Leyen is EU Commission president; Roberta Metsola is EU Parliament president; and Christine Lagarde is president of the European Central Bank.
Yet even if Italy were a patriarchy, what exactly is the link supposed to be between such a society and men murdering women?
No one will ever persuade me that Giulia Cecchettin was killed because her murderer was brought up in Italy. Apart from anything else, to blame her murder on “the patriarchy” means to diminish the killer’s responsibility.
If Italy were to become a matriarchy tomorrow, such crimes would not stop happening. Indeed, a lot of people say that Italy, with its cult of the Virgin Mary and reverence for the figure of the mother, is a matriarchy already.
The Italian left might perhaps have been on stronger ground if in fact there were huge numbers of women being killed in Italy by men. But Italy has practically the fewest women killed by men in the EU, with 0.4 deaths per 100,000 people every year.
So far in 2023, 106 women have been killed in Italy, and of those fifty-five were killed by a partner or ex-partner. Each of those deaths is terrible but this hardly amounts to “the slaughter” that Schlein describes.
As Vittorio Feltri, one of Italy’s most famous journalists, wrote in the Milan daily Il Giornale:
“Femicide is not the norm, it’s the exception for which the only author is not the state or society, but he who picks up a weapon and kills. He is the one who must pay and not the entire male sex. It’s through this optic that we must discuss femicide and gender violence, and stop criminalizing and defining as toxic the male, fomenting unwarranted hatred of a gender considered guilty regardless… the male one that is, who is not guilty and who is not the enemy of the opposite sex.”
Is this the voice of the patriarchy or of reality?
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.