Violenza maschile e produzione del genere


Abstract dell’articolo di Cristina Papa “Violenza maschile e produzione del genere” apparso su RELAZIONI TRA I GENERI E VIOLENZA – anno 2013 n. 2.

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The article offers an overview of the different models that explain male violence against women, highlighting the different heuristic capabilities of these explanations, but also their limitations. In a very schematic way, at least three major prospectives can be distinguished. These includes explanations in reference political perspectives, research strands, but also subjective opinions and social practices. A first set of explanations widely used in the media and in public opinion could be defined as naturalist or ‘justificationist’. It identifies the origin of sexual violence in psychological disorders of the men who exercise it (alcoholism, mental illness, fit), but also more generally related to marginal or disadvantaged contexts. Male sexuality is considered as associated naturally with aggressive tendencies, while women are considered submissive and willing to endure.

A second set of explanations is related to a historical and sociological perspective. This perspective considers the origin of male violence within specific social, economic and political contexts. If during the fascist regime violence against women is explained on the basis of its consistency with a belligerent, authoritarian and racist attitude, the same violence in contemporary contexts is instead attributed to the crisis of masculinity and to the emergence of the changing gender relations. Finally, explanations attributable to a feminist and gender study perspective tend to highlight the systematic set of legitimization of violence against women, focusing on the patriarchal structures that characterize Western society at both the symbolic and structural elements. These strategies of legitimisation assume from time to time different forms in specific contexts, socio-cultural reasons or individual agency. This last explanatory model has the advantage of showing similar structural factors related to the model of hegemonic masculinity. Accordingly, violence against women is present in different historical contexts, but this model fails to show the transformations of the conditions in which violence is exercised, the elements of crisis and rupture, the emergence of alternative models of masculinity, femininity and gender identities.

Here I want to emphasize how important it is instead to reflect on the many differences and ways of living the body, of masculinity and femininity, of their relations with the incorporation and practice of violence, a perspective evident in Queer Studies able to identify the elements of fracture and contradiction. This perspective also allows to understand better the ways in which new practices and new relationships between the sexes are generated. These configurations, in fact, are not static, but they change during the different life phases in relation to various experiences. If gender relations are constantly reproduced and renegotiated, it means also that they are subject of constant transformations. By no coincidence in the Seventies the term “male role” denoted what today is referred to as ‘masculinity’ in the plural form. Sexuality, fatherhood, violence, and relationships to the personal body are questioned and addressed at multiple levels, as a process in itself subversive, because it ignores the naturalness and universality of being male. In this perspective, two phenomena are of particular relevance. Both phenomena are in large measure a result of the highly visible political role of women that mark our time. First, the profound transformation of ways of living the femininity of women and, second, the widespread criticism of males attitudes associated with authoritarianism and aggressiveness. At the same time, it remains important not to isolate violence from inequality. New models and relationships are not only produced at the level of representations and within an individualized or collective consciousness. The foundation of all violence against women lies in denying their dignity, citizenship and rights. The crisis is certainly not helpful, but rather increases several forms of inequalities, including those associated with gender relations. One more reason to continue working to combat violence against women.