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Ideas

Giorgia Meloni's Ugly Break-Up And The Future Of Right-Wing Feminism

Last week, Italy was caught in the uproar of Giorgia Meloni's break-up, a swirl of TV scandal and political controversy. But now that the dust is settled, what does this mean for a single mother standing strong, though alone, on the political right.

Giorgia Meloni's Ugly Break-Up And The Future Of Right-Wing Feminism

Giorgia Meloni during her meeting with King Abdullah II at Palazzo Chigi in Rome.

Lucetta Scaraffia

-Analysis-

ROMEGiorgia Meloni, Italy's controversial first female Prime Minister, took to her social media on Friday to announce her break-up from television journalist Andrea Giambruno. This comes after Meloni's winning right-wing campaign last year revolved around the family unit, even if she and Giambruno (father to their 7-year-old daughter) had never been married.

First, we must explain the events leading to last week's break-up: Giambruno had found himself at the center of a scandal after an Italian television program aired inappropriate comments which had been recorded on hot microphones and off-air microphones. The TV personality was caught asking female colleagues for threesomes, telling them he would be "touching himself" during conversations, and other other instances of workplace harassment.

This was not the first time Giambruno had revealed himself as a source of sexist embarrassment, after incurring outrage over the summer for declaring that if women didn't get drunk they could avoid being victims of sexual violence.

But last week's controversy was the last straw for Meloni, and with a swift move, she defied the conventions of her own political family, becoming a right-wing single woman — and single mother.


A man's place

Andrea Giambruno, for his part, demonstrated that he couldn't handle the role of the man standing next to a woman who is more capable than him, a powerful woman. When Meloni became prime minister, he had proudly asserted that he could stay in the background; but alas, he succumbed to the inevitable vanity that so often comes with being a man.

History and current events teach us that men are not capable of taking a step back without making their partners pay for it, they are not capable of demonstrating that unwavering solidarity that so many women show in similar circumstances. That female solidarity is often crucial to the careers of powerful men, protecting them from attacks and giving them the feeling of having someone by their side who they can always trust.

Feminism is not an ideology confined to the left.

So now Meloni is alone, but she probably knew she was alone for a long time. In fact, she has always relied on the solidarity of her sister and mother, and now her daughter, for protection. Maybe it was with their support that she wrote a break-up statement so firm but also loyal to her ex and father of her child.

We are witnessing a textbook case in the history of women's emancipation: the rise of a woman in social and political life that demands high costs on her private life.

Feminism for all

Yet it is worth noting that the way Meloni has faced and swiftly resolved the issue shows that feminism has also arrived where she is, in the heart of the political right, all the way to the leadership of a party that openly references the strengthening of the traditional family in its program. It's a clear sign to everyone that feminism is no longer (and hasn't been for a long time) the exclusive domain of the left.

Let us remember that almost all left-wing political representatives, at the moment Meloni became Italy's first ever female prime minister, said it wasn't a victory for women because someone like her could never be considered a feminist.

But they were wrong: feminism has historically been and continues to be much more complex than that. It is a profound transformation of society and culture that has touched all women, radically changing their lives and, most importantly, altering the perspective from which all women today view the world.

Meloni's own political career in a conservative party was able to materialize because of this change, because women have earned the right to aim high, even in areas that were previously off-limits to them. Both her very presence in government, as well as her abrupt farewell to a life partner who proved unworthy of the trust placed in him, stand as evidence that feminism is not an ideology confined to the left. It is instead a true revolution that, at least in the Western world, has changed and continues to change the world.

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Society

Violence Against Women, The Patriarchy And Responsibility Of The Good Men Too

The femicide of Giulia Cecchettin has shaken Italy, and beyond. Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra looks at what lies behind femicides and why all men must take more responsibility.

photo of a young man holding a sign: Filippo isn't a monster, he's the healthy son of the patriarchy

A protester's sign referring to the alleged killer reads: Filippo isn't a monster, he's the healthy son of the patriarchy

Matteo Nardone/Pacific Press via ZUMA Press
Ignacio Pereyra

Updated Dec. 3, 2023 at 10:40 p.m.

-Essay-

ATHENS — Are you going to write about what happened in Italy?, Irene, my partner, asks me. I have no idea what she's talking about. She tells me: a case of femicide has shaken the country and has been causing a stir for two weeks.

As if the fact in itself were not enough, I ask what is different about this murder compared to the other 105 women murdered this year in Italy (or those that happen every day around the world).

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

We are talking about a country where the expression "fai l'uomo" (be a man) abounds, with a society so prone to drama and tragedy and so fond of crime stories as few others, where the expression "crime of passion" is still mistakenly overused.

In this context, the sister of the victim reacted in an unexpected way for a country where femicide is not a crime recognized in the penal code, contrary to what happens, for example, in almost all of Latin America.

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