Feminism & The Cult of Silence

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think that there is a 'cult of silence' in the country and the society you live in, especially for issues involving women's position in society and their rights? If yes, then what are the specific issues? Is it harmful? In What way?

MARIA : I live in a society that doesn't know the 'cult of silence'. Honestly, I myself had no knowledge of it until a dear friend of mine from an Asian country explained me what it was. Well, I think it is something that leads to a living condition of  'freedoms denied',  that induces women to act according to rules that are poorly suited to their needs because obliged as they are to stay silent in relation to the manifestation of their thoughts, their own personal ambitions.  I believe that the absence of what is defined ‘cult of silence' is due to a cultural evolution of societies.

SONGSOPTOK:  In case you think there is not such a cult, can you please explain why you think so? With some example, if possible.

MARIA : Italy is a land where women access higher education in a greater number than men, they can practice any kind of activity, job or profession. Italian women are teachers, doctors, university professors, engineers, business managers.....

One of the best lawyers in the country is a woman who led our parliament to consider Amendments to Legislation to further improve the female condition inside families. This because, despite the achieved legal equality, as from the Family Law, in some men and in all walks of life still prevails the idea that women are not free individuals but objects to own.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think that there has always been a cult of silence in human societies regarding certain issues? If yes, then for what reasons?  Do you think that it is actually a good thing to perpetuate such a practice? Please tell us.

MARIA : It is my firm conviction that all men are equal, being their hearts crossed by the same passions, ambitions and desires, as we can learn from Shakespeare’s tragedies or comedies, not by chance after so many centuries, still so much appreciated. And I also believe that men's social evolution follows the same paths in any place even though at different times.

Until a few decades ago, the Italian Criminal Code contemplated the 'honor Killing'  that is the homicide of a member of the family by other members due to the belief that the victim had brought shame  or dishonor upon the family, it was commonly believed it were not  a grossly negligent for a husband to kill his wife for having sex outside marriage. A law still in force in many southern countries of the world.

SONGSOPTOK:  Is there a feminist movement in your country? If yes, then What are the specific objectives? In your opinion, is it necessary? If not. Which then are the main reasons for its absence?

MARIA : The feminist movement had its highest expression in the seventies of the last century. There were public demonstrations, universities were occupied, women began to dress differently and in a more extravagant way than in the past. They demanded equal rights after years of silent acceptance of their condition within family and society where they held minor roles than men. They demanded to be no longer dependent on men, their freedom of choice and the chance, at last, to plan their lives according to their needs and aspirations. It's thanks to them, to their struggles that women today can live better lives

SONGSOPTOK:  What, in your opinion, is the position of women in the country you live in?  Do they have equal rights in every domain as men? If not, which are the main areas where they receive unequal treatments?

MARIA : The country I live in is made up of women that can enjoy the fruits,  smelling of freedom and equality, of the feminist movement thanks to the battles fought by their mothers, and before them by their grandmothers.

SONGSOPTOK:  A  ' glass ceiling ' is a metaphor used to represent an invisible barrier that keeps women from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy. Do you believe in this concept? What is your personal experience in your professional life? In the country you live in are there class ceiling in different professions?

MARIA : Absolutely not. The social history has shown that there are no areas in which woman cannot or has not proven to be up to any roles. A Russian woman,  Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman who explored the space followed by many others from several countries; in the last American presidential elections, Hillary Clintom competed withTrump . 

Undeniably, women are actively present in any social field.  In the western countries they were able to break 'the glass ceiling' although still steps forward have to be done.

SONGSOPTOK:  What is your opinion about the feminist movement? Do you think it is Necessary, both at a global and local level? Why? In this context, what are the major achievements of the feminist movement, if any?

MARIA : The movement begun thanks to the British suffragettes and some feminist waves in the USA, had the merit to awaken women from a state of chronic apathy. It gave them the awareness of their human and social rights. I firmly believe that the same rights must be granted to all the  women in the world, without exception. Equality between man and woman can only bring benefits, both culturally and economically.

Women, in their role of first educators of their children, will be able to offer a broader vision of the outside world. Their work in the social area will bring economic benefits to their families and contribute to the welfare of the societies they  live in

SONGSOPTOK:  A recent study ( conducted by HuffPost/YouGov) concluded that 20% of the Americans identify as feminists, even though a whopping 82 % believe that 'men and women should be social political and economic equals'. Do you find this contradictory, and if so why? What according to you would be the result of a similar study in the country you live in? For what reason?

MARIA : Not at all. Feminism had as its objective the political, social and economic equality,   In the USA these objectives have been achieved, almost completely, and since long. The remaining 20% of the Americans who identify to date, as feminist, is that part of the movement that wants to go further, probably to overcome that invisible barrier that still divide the male from the female world. As to me, I believe that men and women are individuals whose skills should be measured on a personal level.

If a survey of the same type were conducted in Italy, it would bring, more or less, to the same results. And I suppose this may depend on the ongoing political, economic and cultural exchanges between the two realities.

SONGSOPTOK:  One of the main areas of the feminist movement is the sexual objectification of women all across the globe, especially on media. What is the reality in the country you live on and or your country of origin? What is your opinion about this? Do you think there is a cult of silence around this issue? Why?

MARIA : During the Fascist era,  women were evaluated according to their reproductive potential. The children they gave birth to, if males, were greatly welcome because considered new soldiers to send to war to defend their homeland. Today all this is behind us, but women are still objects of sexual desire, although they got more tools and a greater awareness than in the past.  They can choose their partners and freely break their relations if not fit to their expectancies. The Italian woman lives in a condition of a much greater sexual freedom. She is generally not judged according to chastity criteria but appraised on the basis of her overall personality.

SONGSOPTOK:  Finally, according to you, to what extent feminism is relevant in today's society.

MARIA :  It was extremely relevant in the western countries and is and will be for years to come in most of the southern lands of the world. A woman who has access to education, to employment is a free woman, a better mum and wife because not forcibly subjected to a life within domestic walls, a human being who offers her intelligence, talent and creativity to the society she lives in, enriching it.

This is not a question, but more like a game. You may or may not choose to this. What would be your word picture of a feminist?

A woman who wants to be an active member of the world, who loves life and aspires to enjoy it to the full with all the human beings around.

MARIA MIRAGLIA: I think I've always had very clear ideas about women's rights, as well for ethnic or religious minorities. Luckily, the feminist battles in my country had begun and had their moments of glory before  I appeared on the social scene. However, I know that there is still much to do and definitely I will continue to give my contribution. I also had a wise, learned father who lived his relationship with my mother based on the concept of a true equality and the story continues today with my husband a man of great sensitivity and open-mindedness that, like me, has always been in favour of women's emancipation.
We sincerely thank you for your time and hope to have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen



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