Alessandra Pescarolo e Elisabetta Vezzosi
Mariti e mogli adultere in età liberale
Husbands and adulterous wives in the liberal age
This essay discusses the question of male identity by examining one of its main attributes, the conjugal state, putting it in relation to the opportunities provided by the legal system. The existence of a long-term obligation of sexual fidelity on the part of wives has been an integral and fundamental part of the intricate construction existing between legal systems and identity. At the same time, it has represented an important element of the husband’s status and of male identity in a more general sense. By reference to the Italian penal code in the liberal age, the move from the old regime to the liberal framework is analysed, to throw light on developments in the relationship between the wife’s sexual responsibilities and the husband’s behaviour; the essay poses the question of exactly what kind of resource was represented for husbands by their being able to accuse their wives of a criminal offence.
Maschi in colonia. Gli italiani in Etiopia (1935-1941)
Males in a colony. The Italians in Ethiopia (1935-1941)
This essay describes the preliminary findings of an ongoing study into the relationship between masculinity and colonialism, with reference to the Italian colonization of Ethiopia during the fascist regime. The author begins with an overview of historiographical works (mostly by non-Italians) about colonialism and gender, and continues with some discussion of the methodological problems posed by this kind of study. Finally, by means of an analysis of various texts, comprising propagandistic texts, and the memoirs and diaries of the colonizers, a tentative outline is proposed of the models, behaviour, and male (self)perceptions of the Italians who took part in the «conquest of the empire», with particular attention focused on their relationship with «the Other» (the indigenous males), and on the inter-racial relationships they had with African women.
La mafia: definizione e uso di un modello virilista
The mafia. The definition and use of a model of virility
Like the other mafias, Cosa Nostra, in Sicily and in America, is represented and in particular, represents itself, as the embodiment of Tradition, and therefore of the patriarchal Family and of Virility. This essay attempts to show that this is a purely ideological projection used by organized crime to obtain the social recognition without which it cannot obtain its successes; in spite of its instrumental nature, however, this projection is confirmed by the media and often by the experts themselves, because it represents an important element in the collective unconscious. It is important to abandon this practice, both for the good of society and for a correct interpretation of the phenomenon.
A world without Wanda. Male opinion and the Merlin law
This essay focuses on opinions about the abolition of regulated prostitution expressed by certain sections of Italy’s male population (doctors, politicians, lawyers, and journalists) in the 1950s. The Merlin law, presented in 1948 and finally approved in 1958, closed down the brothels after ten years of controversy, which ranged far beyond prostitution to embrace much wider issues, such as public morality, sexuality, and the balance of power between genders. Based on various types of sources – parliamentary proceedings, weekly publications, law journals and scientific literature – the study focuses in particular upon the reasonings that the men put forward in favour of the law, or against it. The construction of male discourse on prostitution – on the basis of the parliamentary debates – is analysed using certain keys of interpretation which are of particular importance for the study of contemporary masculinity, such as male misogyny, scientific definitions of female identity and roles, the relationship between processes of modernization and gender identities, and the profound ambivalences of the basic principles of sexual morality espoused both by the moralist conservative camp, and by the progressive, secular one.
Modern masculinities in Turkey. From decadence to militarism
This essay sets out to examine the changes which occurred in the conception and experience of masculinity in the Ottoman empire and the Turkish republic between 1860 and 1920. The shift from decadentism to militarism, symbolised by the striking contrast between the vacillating figures of the last sultans and the soldier-heroes Enver Pascià and Mustafà Kemal, is one of the main points of reference. The other key point is the inter-relationship between the female-male and internal-external dichotomies. The article describes the changes in masculinity taking place during the nineteenth century, especially after Kemal’s founding of the Turkish republic, with special reference to the subjective sphere, and in particular to dress, to perceptions of the body, and to styles of life. The battle for the abolition of the fez, the new emphasis on male bodies which were both athletic and military, the insistence on breaking up traditional generational hierarchies and forcing the inside to come outside, as in the case of mixed dancing and schooling, the new alliances between fathers and daughters, are all examples of profoundly innovative definitions of internal and external, of male and female relationships. In methodological terms, it is suggested that the categories of gender can shed a completely new light upon the well-known processes of ‘revolution from above’, embodied here in the remarkable figure of Mustafà Kemal, who was to become Atatürk, literally, the ‘Father of the Turks’.
Neither machos, nor wimps. The masculinity of Italian Jews
By describing the Italian situation, this essay tries to show how, from ancient times, the ideal of Jewish masculinity has undergone profound changes, both through the gradual strengthening of the role of Jewish women, and as a consequence of the dramatic transformation in conditions following the diaspora and the specific nature of each single community’s model of settlement. The examination of the Italian situation also brings to light the existence of autoctonous modes of behaviour which are very different from the stereotype of the Jew of Central Europe, who, according to most of the literature of the time, embodied the very essence of modern Judaism. The image held up to ridicule in Nazi printed propaganda – a Jewish male who was weak and effeminate, though anything but asexual – appears not to correspond at all to the ideals of masculinity cultivated in the Italian ghettos.
Against women. On becoming male in a case of sexual
This essay argues that in order to make a proper analysis of how gender identity is constructed, it is necessary to go beyond a purely organistic perspective, and pursue a line of enquiry which can produce a definition of gender in predominantly psychological terms. A theoretical approach is outlined which sees male identity as closely related to female identity, beginning with the primary symbiotic relationship with the mother. If this relationship fails to develop properly, it is impossible for a healthy male identity to be constructed, and the relationship can actually produce behaviour which is damaging to female figures in the vicinity. To illustrate the way in which these problems unfold, a case of sexual perversion is described which maps out the progress of this difficult relationship with the female element, and the consequences that this has in the construction of gender identity. A recognition of an original dependence on the female, without which there would have been no psychic life, is the keystone for a healthy male gender identity.
maggio 2004, 248 p. ISBN-10: 88-8334-110-4 ISBN-13: 978-88-8334-110-6 € 21,00