Social Injustice Social Issues

Can you be too feminist?

I am part of a Facebook group of women who support each other –  Group of Sisters . We encourage each other, we give each other advice, we discuss various topics without insulting each other – and in these times this is already a result. A few weeks ago a girl posted a discussion point that she paraphrased and said more or less like this: “ every now and then I see people who insist on certain issues, who are ‘too’ feminists. Fighting for your rights is fine, but sometimes it seems exaggerated to me .” Interesting reflections emerged where – due to the indirect experience I have of ’68 and the discussions between women narrated by  Lidia Menapace  – many started from their own experiences to then go on to think in abstract terms about the culture in which we live immersed.

However, the question remained with me: can one be too feminist in Italy? Does extreme feminism exist, and what does it consist of? What are the parameters to define it?

The definition that Treccani gives of feminism is the following: “Movement to claim women’s rights, whose first manifestations are to be found in the late Enlightenment and the French Revolution; born to achieve the  complete emancipation  of women on an  economic  (admission to all occupations),  legal  (full equality of civil rights) and  political  (admission to the electorate and eligibility) level, it hopes for a radical change in society and in the relationship between men -woman through sexual liberation and the abolition of roles traditionally attributed to women.”

If there were still any doubts, it is a movement born to claim equal rights (and duties: there is no one without the other) between men and women. A movement for formal and substantial equality between the two  genders .  If feminism is equality, then the question is:  can we sin by having  too much  equality? can equality be extreme?

Let’s say the answer to these two questions is affirmative. How do we define what is too feminist? One way could be to delve into the merits of individual battles and how they are perceived; also because  on a formal level – on paper – we can say that equality has been achieved . At a regulatory level, we women have access to all the jobs we want; we enjoy the same rights as men; we can vote and be elected. However, when we get down to the concrete aspects of everyday life, is this really the situation?

This is the point in the article where the kind reader expects to find the tirade about how Italy is behind in many aspects. So yes, now I will write said tirade: but I will do it for the record, because it is important to do so. I’ll do it while huffing and rolling my eyes in boredom, because  I’m tired of writing the same things . Repeating the same concepts over and over is no fun to anyone.

So here we are: for the  World Gender Gap  – the annual report published by the World Economic Forum on gender equality in the world – Italy occupies place 76 out of 153 countries analysed.  I will not mention the Scandinavian countries, which have always been a beacon in social policies; let’s try to compare ourselves to the closest (geographically and culturally)  Spain: it is in eighth place . The report  examines some variables: participation in economic life and work opportunities; educational outcomes; health and life expectancy; political participation. It also draws a comparison with 2006, the year the Forum began carrying out this study.  Well, compared to 2006 as a country system we have worsened in all indicators except in political representation.  It must be said that improving from that point of view was not particularly difficult. At the time we had the third Berlusconi government; taking only the ministerial figures (a total of 24) we had two women in all: education and equal opportunities. Two ministries that are often considered as “female things” and which are rarely entrusted to male figures – especially that on equal opportunities, which has now been merged with that for the family (as if they were the same thing, which in itself it speaks volumes).

What do these inequalities translate into in everyday life? I will list some topics here, without intending to be exhaustive: equal pay; right and protection of maternity which goes hand in hand with the right to work; right to live a safe life – without being killed, mistreated, tortured, raped (in Italy the women victims of voluntary homicide (1) in 2019 were 111 –  Istat data ; to maintain the comparison with Spain the number stopped at 55 –  El País data ); right to fully enjoy representative democracy (if in Italy the population is permanently predominantly female, why do we have an overwhelming majority of men representing us in government?). Not to mention how even when we are elected they often call us “minister” and not “minister” because “it sounds bad” (the same applies to the different professions). And what can we say about how women do even more household chores at home than men and seem to be the only ones who have to find a way to balance work and family life? Or how job promotions are given mostly to men; or how some products in the supermarket – such as those for personal hygiene – are more expensive for women than for men. How even tampons are taxed as luxury goods. Or how giving your mother’s surname to your children is still seen as something eccentric. How the right to terminate a pregnancy is in fact violated in most Italian regions. 

Starting from the initial question, which of these themes could be  too  feminist?

I can’t identify them; in each of them I see a declination of the request for social justice. Rights must first be acquired and then maintained; no one gives them to you, voluntarily depriving themselves of a position of power and privilege. So perhaps we can tell ourselves, in complete serenity, that if  we hadn’t had  too feminist feminists in his time , we still wouldn’t be able to vote and make our voices heard now .

(1)  Due to the way data is collected in Italy, we are talking about murders; the actual number of feminicides could therefore be a bit lower. In Spain, however, they are directly classified as feminicides.

Related Posts

Jessa Crispin: «A t-shirt won’t make you a feminist»

In her essay «Why I am not a feminist», the American writer states that female empowerment, popular today, is not feminism. She explains to us what doesn’t work in the #metoo movement and why men don’t have the right to speak...

Feminist. To be or not to be? Read Jessa Crispin between dilemmas and desire

Ennio Flaiano , in  The Solitude of the Satyr , proposes a brilliant idea to make communism ineffective in a country like ours, of parliamentary democracy. It’s Marx’s egg. It would be enough to teach communism in schools. In that case it would not be necessary...

Fashion, feminism and patriarchy are more intertwined than we think

A miniskirt is not just a miniskirt, just like the feminist slogans on Dior t-shirts: here’s how women’s struggles have changed fashion Everything that we wear today more or less without asking ourselves too many problems has a history, carries with...