Violence against women, for a world day not only of denunciation but also of proposal. An open letter

An open letter by Nicla Vassallo and Sabino Maria Fassà to affirm the importance of a Day Against Violence Against Women not only of denunciation but also of proposal

We receive and publish an open letter, signed by philosopher Nicla Vassallo and art critic Sabino Maria Fassà of the think tank “Ama Nutri Cresci,” in view of the International Day Against Violence Against Women, which as every year is celebrated on November 25. The belief of the two authors is that Nov. 25 should not only mean denouncing, but proposing a worldview outside of both machismo culture and vetero-feminist cultural fads and trends: being a woman, Vassallo and Fassà emphasize, “should mean seeing and loving oneself as a human being beyond and regardless of one’s gender.” Below is the text of the letter.

November 25 is the world day against violence against women. Not everyone knows that the date was chosen by the United Nations to commemorate the brutal murder of three women who defended their freedom and democracy to the death. It was November 25, 1960 when the three Mirabal sisters were bludgeoned to death because of their courage and resistance against the brutal regime of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961. November 25 should therefore be a day that celebrates women’s courage and active role in society and not so much their (alleged) weakness and their being “helpless” victims of male violence.

Today we are witnessing a crescendo of news stories that make us perceive women as “exemplary” victimsof violence that has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, violence against women is unfortunately not a contemporary phenomenon, but has been meandering for millennia. The media amplify its echo. The #metoo movement, which has mainly involved the fields of art and show business, has finally lifted the veil of victim shaming, but we do not believe it can diminish the phenomenon, whose roots are very deep and capillary.

In addition to “outside the home” violence, the persistence of cases and stories of domestic violence are worrying and saddening. It is urgent to first ask why so many women get to the point of being killed and fail to “escape” before it is too late. It is difficult to find an unambiguous answer. Perhaps it happens because many women believe and dream of the “good love” of the fairy tales they were raised with. Women many times see and/or represent themselves as “passive” and in need of being saved. In order to be “saved” some women are even willing to suffer and endure even violence, from those who should simply love them. Other women believe that their own “saving” love can change the other person. The basic problem is that women oftendo not “love”themselves and do not understand that they can and must save themselves-it is a vicious circle from which they struggle to get out.

The main suspect is not so much the weakness of “males,” but a culture that does not see them as human beings, but labels them as “males”.We live in a culture that is still or perhaps again machist. The past does not help and is also full of theorists of the inferiority of women: let us remember to quote one that Aristotle argued that women were passive as opposed to “active” men. Watching today’s local TV and the language of so much politics, we witness a guilty indulgence and eulogy of violence, a constant winking at macist models of the past, whereby violence is the answer to violence.Thus in most cases the models that are proposed to the new generations involve a violent, hyper-virile, hyper-muscular, hyper-armed victor. Nothing or almost nothing therefore seems to have changed: the macho man with the gun has replaced Prince Charming with the sword.

Can, therefore, a work of art, an article or a film persuade a woman to rebel against such a stereotype and turn away from herself that violent “love,” which love is not?

Of course, it is not a single work of art, a single movement or a single victory in a trial that will change the world, but it is the socio-cultural system that can get to the machista marrow of this World. The aggregate of women’s courage is the real answer. Let there therefore be more and more and more women artists who speak out not only and not so much about violence against women, but about their violent worldview. Their being protagonists, when independent and “active,” will be a model and example of “emancipation” for other women. Being a woman on Nov. 25 should not only mean denouncing. Being a woman should mean proposing one’s own worldview outside of both machismo culture and vetero-feminist cultural fashions and trends. Being a woman should basically mean seeing and loving oneself as a human being beyond and regardless of one’s gender.

Therefore, we would like to conclude this reflection of ours by dwelling on a positive example, a work of art entitled “Orpheus” by an artist who deals with the theme of violence connected to love in an original, strong, and effective way. “Orpheus” is the latest sculpture by artist Giulia Manfredi, a brilliant young sculptor whose resins won the CRAMUM award in 2017. In “Orpheus,” resin traps, freezes and makes delicate yucca flowers immobile and immortal in their beauty. The theme of violent love pervades this work and the myth of Orpheus, which tells of the young protagonist’s impossible attempt to bring his beloved Eurydice back to life. All the protagonists are swept up in a claustrophobic spiral of violence: Hades’ wife Persephone has been abducted and taken to live in the underworld alongside her captor; Eurydice dies bitten by a snake while fleeing an unrequited lover; Orpheus himself is finally the victim of a horrific crime when, following the death of his beloved Eurydice, he is torn to pieces by the Bacchae, guilty of refusing to participate with them in an orgiastic ritual. But, as artist Giulia Manfredi recalls, “the end of the story is not the death of the two protagonists, but the love - good - that goes beyond death: the head of Orpheus, thrown into the river Evros, continues to sing of infinite love for Eurydice.”
All the violence surrounding this myth fails to finally break the good love: what remains and goes beyond death is the courage of being “human” to the end. A message of hope ensues: pure and good love can win, just don’t get addicted or give in...not even to violence.

Nicla Vassallo and Sabino Maria Frassà

In the photo: a detail of Orpheus, the sculpture by Giulia Manfredi

Violence against women, for a world day not only of denunciation but also of proposal. An open letter
Violence against women, for a world day not only of denunciation but also of proposal. An open letter

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