In 2012-2013 the feminist neologism “femminicidio” (feminicide) erupted in Italian public discourse as national media outlets repeatedly described an epidemic of men murdering their female partners. As a result, Violence Against Women (VAW) as a cause acquired a new centrality in political discourse surrounding the National electoral campaign that year. Through a critical thematic qualitative analysis of press articles and a linguistic analysis of claims made by activists and politicians reported in news wires, this paper shows that the femminicidio narrative constructed an emergency around violence, one affecting the everyday Italian heterosexual family. Femminicidio as a narrative was influential in the abrupt adoption of a Gender Violence (GV) framework within national institutions, a framework that explains violence as a product of patriarchal culture that normalizes sexist representations of women. Intertwined with a political discourse of progress, the femminicidio narrative suggests that the solution to VAW resides in increasing women’s participation in politics. While increasing participation in politics is a crucial factor in gender equality, focusing exclusively on this framework forecloses on the many sociological frameworks available to understand and prevent the complex social phenomenon of domestic and partner violence.

Femicide in Italy. “Femminicidio,” Moral Panic and Progressivist Discourse

PORCELLI, GIORGIO
2016

Abstract

In 2012-2013 the feminist neologism “femminicidio” (feminicide) erupted in Italian public discourse as national media outlets repeatedly described an epidemic of men murdering their female partners. As a result, Violence Against Women (VAW) as a cause acquired a new centrality in political discourse surrounding the National electoral campaign that year. Through a critical thematic qualitative analysis of press articles and a linguistic analysis of claims made by activists and politicians reported in news wires, this paper shows that the femminicidio narrative constructed an emergency around violence, one affecting the everyday Italian heterosexual family. Femminicidio as a narrative was influential in the abrupt adoption of a Gender Violence (GV) framework within national institutions, a framework that explains violence as a product of patriarchal culture that normalizes sexist representations of women. Intertwined with a political discourse of progress, the femminicidio narrative suggests that the solution to VAW resides in increasing women’s participation in politics. While increasing participation in politics is a crucial factor in gender equality, focusing exclusively on this framework forecloses on the many sociological frameworks available to understand and prevent the complex social phenomenon of domestic and partner violence.
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