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The definition of violence as the perpetration of actions whose effects cannot be denied, isa most efficacious tool to explore and discuss the socio-historical diffusion domesticviolence; understanding the recent ECHR (European Court of Human Rights)condemnation to Italy, for inability to contain and/or solve the problem of violence againstwomen in the home (ANSA, 2017; Sander, 2017), needs the support of a wider analysisreflecting on the historical roots of the phenomenon.I argue the internalisation of violent traditional customs contributed to the stratification ofdomestic violence as normal – in the sense of reflecting community norms – thereforeresulting in a continuum of gendered violence that still oppresses Italian women.Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to understand contemporary domestic violence inItaly as borne and reflective of a “continuum of violence”, a definition taken from Kelly(1987) with the purpose of widening up the notion of sexual violence as a bridge betweenpast and present, encountering both material and discursive support in the learning ofmasculinity (Connell and Connell, 2005; Hearn, 1998). Such continuum is enforced overthe socially disruptive decades of second world war aftermath, by conceptualising thehistorical progress laying behind the gendered violence enmeshed in traditional customs:producing and reproducing violent practices up until today.Sicilian women’s experience of fuitina – the spread practice of female abduction and rape,inevitably following in repair marriage – will be taken as empirical case of violentreproduction of customary violence, through the comparison of two opposite narrativesreflective of communitarian normativity on the one hand, and deviance on the other. Twoopposite mirrors reflecting the very same society.In order to develop a theoretical reading able to be comprehensive of commonalities anddifferences of the two cases, while at the same time drawing a line between past andpresent, I will enfold the concept of continuum through the complementing notions of slowand structural violence: the first, coming from recent Nixon’s 2011 book onenvironmentalism, will be embedding the continuum within the love ideology, whosediscursive power influences women’s life silently, but firmly. Concerning structuralviolence, Galtung ‘s renowned conceptual piece de resistance of 1969, it will be used as it”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”4Word count: 3586perfectly reflects the socio-structural patriarchal logics hiding beneath a violent custom likethe fuitina.”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”5Word count: 3586The essay will be formed of three consecutive parts: the first introductive chapter, willprepare the terrain of analysis by drawing a contextual description of Sicilian women’scondition in post-war Italy, and will continue with a comparison of the main narrativeelements between my grandmother experience of fuitina – constituting the norm(al)attitude, accepted by the community – and the famous feminist icon of Franca Viola, ayoung abducted girl who never accepted the crime committed against her person, and –especially thanks to the help of her father – managed to convict the perpetrator whilefighting her whole life against the unfair judgment of Italian patriarchal system.The following two sections, will be focusing on the theoretical conceptualization of thecontinuum of violence perpetrated by the mixture of slow and structural violence: the firstone being the toxic social construction of romantic love as the most urgent realization ofwomen’s life – no matter the cost; the second, protecting patriarchal system by thereproduction of strict border lines in-between normality and deviance.In the conclusive chapter, I will draw my final remarks by trying to draw a possible solutionappealing to a newly found perspective uniting theory and practice, and suggesting asimple way to curb the spreading of a dramatic phenomenon like domestic violence: aterritorial action of continuous social awareness. In fact, in order to improve the Present wemust look actively to the past and use it at our vantage.”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”6Word count: 35861. Women’s bodies in post-war SicilyThe “continuum of violence” (Kelly, 1987) concept has an innovative potential, inasmuch itstretches the traditional understandings of sexual violence, by bridging singular episodesof violence against women between past and present time. The past we write about,namely the post-war climate of inland Sicily, brings along the production of new forms ofgendered violence often overlooked in academic discourse (see Alexander andHawkesworth, 2008), strengthening women’s oppression by imposing the slowinternalization of traditions. Therefore, in order to build this bridge, the first questionneeding to be answered is: which traits did gendered violence have in post-war Sicily?The social position of Sicilian women in the aftermath of second world conflict wasentrenched to the need of communitarian cohesion the war had taken away: their rolecannot simply be traced back to the traditional sexual-reproductive dimension; femaleexperience was circumscribed tightly the body in its physiological social function:motherhood, the family and conjugal condition were the only pillars capable of keepingtogether a society that was falling apart (Lyttelton, 1982).The years of the economic boom and the developing social welfare made the home astatus symbol (Pinto, 1981): the culture of the house (within television and advertisements)was not meant to be directed to particularly socially defined families, but had as standpointthe stable composition of its elements. The woman represented the inside, privatemaintenance of the whole household; the man was the outside, responsible for theproduction and external public relations.In this context, we can better understand the importance given (in Italy and Mediterraneansocieties in general) to an honour based system: honour was lived as a necessary claimon the property of the woman/wife, whose body belonged completely to her man (father orhusband), who had a moral obligation to reclaim, in the eyes of the social body. Preciselybecause of this, any attack on women’ s honour is a threat not so much directed to theintegrity of the female body, as instead to the solidity of the whole family group and thecommunity in general: the fuitina was the only possible reparation to the ;woman taken;, itre-sold the pact of honour of her family through the reproduction of a new marriage, a newfamily. Violence therefore had not an individual, while rather social meaning.”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”7Word count: 3586To describe the actual functioning of these system, I will compare two different cases offuitina, the fully accepted practice of virgin women abduction meaning the automaticentrance in married life.1.1 Normality: GrandmotherThe acceptance of a violent gendered norm shocks especially in reason to the deep mindmoulding, hiding behind centuries of oppression. The story of an unacknowledged rapebrings something unbelievable, almost fictional, that makes you think of books likeNabokov’s “Lolita” (which interestingly came out around the same years) or other terrifyingstories that, as said, are only books. This sense of utter disbelief increases dramaticallythen, when the story regards a member of your family.My grandparents’ encounter fully enters within the logic I have discussed above, ofpatriarchal control of Sicilian female bodies: the meeting of a 36 years old widower with agirl of 17 takes even sharper grotesque traits when the man in question – a well-known,all-family praised, late grandfather – firstly got her drunk by using his position of power(she went to his notary’s office on behalf of her parents) and then irredeemably took hervirginity in a parking lot. A one-way fuitina, with an executioner and an unaware victim. Thehappy ending saw my grandmother pregnant with the first of her 14 sons.The most striking aspect of such story goes beyond the whole violent and disgustingcontours, and entails the telling of this story and the meaning of its discursive strategy,namely how it is understood to be, by the people who lived it. In fact, my grandmother isstill extremely proud of their story, she blindly absorbed the norm at its fullest: she trulybelieves that what happened to her was the luckiest and most romantic love encounteranyone could hope for.”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”8Word count: 35861.2 Deviance: Franca ViolaFranca Viola is a famously abducted woman, who strongly refused reparatory marriageand – for the first time in Sicilian records – brought the rapist before the court, obtainingconviction. The story gained a lot of media coverage at that time, contributing on the onehand to major awareness on the barbaric custom of fuitina, on the other, to the strongstigmatisation of the woman in her community (the village of Alcamo, in north west Sicilianinland) for her going against the norm. The woman whose “no” secured her immortalfeminist glory, paid the serious price of social exclusion; her painful no was moreoverfollowed by forty years of silence, as she always escaped the merciless reflectors ofmedias.The story of Franca Viola began in 1965, when in the home of her peasant father she wasbrutally abducted with her little brother, who tried to save her, by Filippo Melodia andseven henchmen of his – all criminals of the local mafia. Melodia kept her for eight longdays and raped her repeatedly, while expecting the natural consequence of marriage asnorm-al repair to Franca’s dishonoured body. Again, a one-way fuitina with an executionerand a victim, but this time the victim spoke up.This tragedy had several protagonists: Franca, a girl crushed by circumstances, forced tocarry on her fragile body the weight of a trauma that would never leave her; her father,Bernardo, a working man of the fields, whose poverty never stopped his dignified heart inopposing against the abuse; lastly, it is the tragedy of a little brother, Mariano, and of hermother Vita, who – as the ancestral culture of prehistoric Sicily imposed – had no voice atall and could only assist with petrified pain at the escalation of the drama. In thebackground, a country that is incredulous to the facts: on the first refusal of Bernardo tothe engagement (all marriages needed the father’s approval) followed the damagedhonour of Melodia’ s family; for the no to the wedding; for the trial ending up with asentence to eight years in prison for the rapist: a newly happening scandal.With her refusal, Franca stroke the first hit at the social gendered hierarchy, in whichwomen were forced to blindly accept the man who raped them. Nevertheless, the womanhas always strongly refused the label of ;heroin;, while refusing any public appearance.”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”9Word count: 35861. Traditional Custom as Slow violenceThe strength of ideologies (i.e. the set of beliefs, opinions, representations and valuesguiding a particular social group) lays behind the inner adaptability to external change;accordingly, every tradition appeals to the importance of certain practices and/or beliefs asembedded to an indisputable claim of truth the community defends, in vain trying to protectitself from the external changes of time.I argue, that the might of nowadays domestic violence comes from the silent productionand reproduction of the love ideology, whereas a feeling of sheer connection with theperson you freely choose, is substituted by the time ticking pressure not to end up spinsterand alone. In this sense, the social learning theory Hearn (1998) describes masculineviolent behaviour and goes hand in hand with Nixon’s slow violence: beside thespectacularity of abductions and rape episodes – being them either acknowledged or not –there exist a subtle ideological form of love that infects women and men, both in past andpresent Italy. Working as slow violence, love ideology is as a double-edged sword unitingthe materiality of physical violence with the discursive understanding of what becomessocially acceptable: being a woman, you are taught to search for a husband since earlyage, no matter the cost, no matter the violence incurrence: a Sicilian dictum recites “dirtyclothes are to be washed inside” (i.e. deal with your family problems privately, never showthem off)The most important element Nixon offers within his theory, is the reconceptualization oftime: “violence – he writes – needs to be seen—and deeply considered—as a contest notonly over space, or bodies, or labor, or resources, but also over time.” (p. 8). The action oftime is probably the strongest in imposing such love ideology yet today, we shouldtherefore widen up our idea on what constitutes violence for social justice and hiddenagency: not meaning the single “explosive” moments of violences per se as exploited bythe spectacularity of media representation (Nixon, 2011), while rather the understanding ofthe ideology laying subtly behind the whole violences of domestic violence now, and fuitinasixty years ago.To conclude, the common element of the two cases is the love ideology, whoseunderstanding was different in the two cases but in both accepted: even Franca Viola, asthe media reported at her time (Cullen, 2016), found her peace only when finding another”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”10Word count: 3586good man to marry – not so much because she fell for him, but because he offered thesafety of a gentle courtship and personal protection against the marginalization of thecommunity.In this sense, drawing on the concept of “slow violence”, inasmuch the conceptualizationof love as necessity for women in order to achieve their personal realization, constitutesthe base for this patriarchal tradition to resist time and evolve: from 1950s form of “fuitina”where passive acceptance was deemed obvious, to nowadays diffused domestic violencewhere women keep on forgiving their abusive partners out of the supposed “love” theyfeel.The silence imposed on the acts of violence against women since the post-war climate ofthese narrative, and slowing developing into the social learning behind the logic of “findyour love or feel miserably incomplete”, hides obnoxiously behind the logic of reproductionof domestic violence, and may dangerously shape other forms of public violence on themodel of American mass-shootings, whose statistical link with violence in the home (seeCrockett, 2017) should make us ponder on the gravity of the problem.”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”11Word count: 35862. Traditional Custom as Structural ViolenceIn the context of Post-war Sicily, within the ever-changing scenery of an underdevelopedterritory losing the rooted fascist rule of law abruptly, any kind of change was a dangerousthreat (Pinto, 1981) and traditional custom became the safety net communities gotattached to; nevertheless, the gender characterizations of the fuitina custom becamerapidly stale in the ever-changing new western world Italy was part of, thanks especially tothe increasing feminist battles for civil rights.It should not surprise if, once again, the context speaks louder than singular actions:Galtung formulation of “structural violence” was in fact published in 1969, around the sameyears of our narratives. He lived in a peaceful Norway, whose socio-economicdevelopment had nothing to share with Sicilian struggles, yet his universalisation maycome to help in conceptualising the narrative differences intervening between mygrandmother and Franca Viola’s.Like Nixon’s (2011), the violence Galtung (1969) describes is silently and subtly affectingeveryone’s lives, and needs more awareness as tool be fought against, but by flowingfrom the panoptic social structure surrounding the everyday life, structural violence affectspeople differently: depending on their social status, people are prevented from meetingtheir basic needs and “from realizing their potentialities “(p. 170). In bothconceptualizations of violence though, when considering the rape, women are abductedwith the same purpose: depriving them of their freedom forever.The action of community policing that invested Franca Viola and her father, because of thevery fact of going beyond the normality, was productive of a double layer of difficulties: onthe one hand, the girl had to face the trauma deriving from the unwanted physical brutalityof a rape, on the other, she suffered an openly hostile community whose exclusion andmarginalization was exacerbated by the high level of intrusion of Italian media journalismin the village.We could argue that the social stigmatization of woman’s guilt in rape is not a newlytheorized element of feminist thought (Marcus, 2002; Price, 2005) nor is overlooked withinmodern rape accounts (see Brison, 2002), yet the influential force small villages’community in Southern Italy had – whenever excluding a member of theirs – was theirpower of depriving from life very basic needs (Cullen, 2016; Pinto, 1981). Counting on”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”12Word count: 3586community’s networks for the mutual exchange of goods, in the problematic context ofself-sufficient economies of the underdeveloped European south, was actually essential:being excluded from the community may indeed have risked death.It proves useful thus, to draw on the concept of “structural violence” for describing thesocio-structural strength involved in the reinforcement of traditions, inasmuch thestigmatisation of single cases as abnormal and fortuitous increases the silence on allothers, that – on the other hand- acquire the value of common practice, slowly developingin forms of gendered violence. In this sense, the power of naming experiences properly–gendered violence and not love, in these cases – is crucial if we hope to subvert the blindacceptance of patriarchal cultural and social hegemony (Price, 2005).The social justification of practices like the fuitina is produced and reproducedsystematically by patriarchal norms of women’s bodies objectification, whose temporal andstructural development survived in other forms today, imposing the acceptance of women’s inferiority as essential part of Italian culture. Beside the diffusion of domestic violentpractices, this inferiority imprints women’s identity on their imposed gendered role, seeingher value only under the vest of mother and wife: whomever tries escaping such limitspasses under a social stigmatisation resembling very much what Franca Viola had tosuffer; over six decades have passed since the bravery of this woman changed the gamerules and masculine power has only adapted to shape its invasive pressure in other forms,symbolical and psychological, but rather real.”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”13Word count: 3586ConclusionAs Italian society of post-second world conflict demonstrates, the production of genderedviolence in the aftermath of armed conflicts has dramatic turn-ups in socio-culturalrelations (Alexander and Hawkesworth, 2008), for causing the tightening of patriarchalmechanisms of control (Pinto, 2001; Lyttelton, 1982). In this scenery, women’s positionsuffered the most oppressive treatments, and the spread diffusion of customs like thefuitina is the dreadful beginning of a continuum of violence resisting yet today.In this paper, I have argued that a critical consideration of traditional customs like “lafuitina” results in a twofold fan of internalised violence, taking the forms of both structuraland slow violence; the internalisation of norms numbing people’s perspective on whatviolence represents and how to define it so (as in my grandmother case, whereas she stillthinks her abduction being romantic), is dangerous for the social system and denies anypossibility of improvement: not only because it ends up justifying a norm based onviolence, but because the stigmatisation of the deviant (as in Franca Viola’s case) resultsin a keeping the continuum of violence alive, adjusting itself over time in new shapes, as indomestic violence.The case of Franca Viola upset public opinion of the time surely not in reason of thegravity of what had happened to her, while rather because it changed the social andinstitutional equilibrium of Italian patriarchy: thanks to her epochal accusation against therapist she even went against the Italian Penal Code, whose article 544 openly admittedthe possibility of extinguishing the crime of rape – even to the detriment of a minor – iffollowed by a repair marriage. The hypocritical expression of “repair marriage” can be readas another layer of violence against the victim, obscuring the experience of trauma shehad lived in what was – and sometimes still is – considered “Traditional custom”. As Nixon(2011) writes, the benefits of the inter-disciplinarity of edge-effects, i.e. overcoming theborders of disciplines to inform social phenomena of violence like customs, are able tocomplete the partiality of laws’ abstractions by adding an emotional framework to traumaticexperiences that needs more value to emotional realities of struggles and physicalsuffering.”Internalised Violence: is Traditional Custom a form Violence?the ambiguity between love, coercion and sexual violence”14Word count: 3586Despite the pessimistic account I have given above, I do not intend to radically excludeany kind of improvement in socio-cultural attitudes which may finally free people, from bothviolence in the home and against social-stigmatisation of rape. To build a different attitude,I believe we should draw on Richardson and Robinson (2015) idea, according to which wefirst need to find a path to go beyond the victimization of women who suffered violence,nor falling into the passive acceptance for which, as Price (2005) puts it: “socially, beingfemale means being vulnerable” (p. 16). Secondly – and this may the major point claimedby this essay – Italy needs to create a new form of awareness based on socio-culturalawareness to its past, in order to draw a better future.In this framework, all traditions need to be questioned dramatically from their conceptualroots until the cutting of common knowledge stem: we should be able to spread the storyof our grandmothers’ fuitina without pride nor compliant smiles, while really fightinggendered violence by calling it by name (Price, 2005).Studying the Past actively, looking for patterns and clues to understand the Present is asocial duty to be stretched way over the single phenomenon of domestic violence, usefulto find solutions to nowadays problems. As the Middle Age French writer Bernard ofChartres already wrote in 12 th century:”We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, andthings at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or anyphysical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.”The past uplifts us above the clouds of uncertainty of life, is about time we use it to solveour most impellent problems.

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