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?

MICHELA: Although the position of women may seem improved in Italy, it is not entirely true. There is still a disparity. Women continue to earn less than men, they are often not considered at for some roles. The commitment in safeguarding and protecting the rights of women is still rather ineffective. More than a cult of silence, I would call it a cult of indifference. It lacks a plan of action, and you drag the same issues for years, despite the many battles of all women who have tried to defend himself and manifesting itself in opposition to the system.

SONGSOPTOK: In case you think that there is no such cult, can you please explain why you think so? With some examples, if possible

MICHELA: The cult of silence exists, but too often is confused with the cult of indifference.

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 know why.

MICHELA: Yes, there has always been a cult of silence in human societies. Every nation has its problems, but it is clear that globalization has also contaminated the part of the rights, imposing the reality of denial and silence spread, leading to a lack of solution for various reasons, one of these is the economic factor.

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, then what are the main reasons for its absence?

MICHELA: From the ’60 to the present in Italy feminist movements were critical to address the issues of equality and emancipation. Women have organized and compared, have expressed, have raised their voices. They were born many associations and realities of support to women: ‘Feminist struggle’, ‘the Movement of liberation of the Women’, ‘the Italian Front for the liberation of women’. They are just some concrete forms of activism for dialogue with the institutions.

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, then which are the main areas where they receive unequal treatment?

MICHELA: The status of women in Italy does not show a gender equality, indeed, women are still discriminated against in the workplace, in political rules. Basic lack the will to really change things. If you do not start the way from education to equality among young people, among boys, unlikely that there will be improvements for women, but I speak not only of Italy, worldwide.

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 personal and professional life? In the country you live in are there glass ceilings in different professions?

MICHELA: At the end, this ‘glass ceiling’ exist, and just because it is not easy to perceive it, it creeps almost normal. In my professional life I had to come to terms with these difficulties, I felt as inferior just because woman than a fellow man. I have still managed to redeem by showing that the ability of a person are not based on gender.

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

MICHELA: I think the feminist movement is now necessary for a kind of protection,  even if are individual women that have to make their contribution. Reacting, trying to be heard, without exaggeration. I think is the way to not get to the same place so many years ago.

SONGSOPTOK: A recent study (conducted by HuffPost/YouGov) concluded that only 20% of 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 reasons?

MICHELA: I do not consider it a contradiction. We are in a fast, frantic era, the movements of the past, are now on social groups, such as Facebook, Twitter. The digital age has also changed the concept of motion. There are a lot of study for this theme also in Italy, and the mirror of the society now is equivalent all around the world.

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

MICHELA: Slowly the media are equating the same publicity for males and for women in the instrumentalization of the body. The cult of silence exists in the minds of those who do not want to stand in the times of change.

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

MICHELA: The achievements of the battles for the freedom of women should be strengthened and consolidated to ensure social, civil and political equality.

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?

Only a word: freedom

MICHELA ZANARELLA is the author of poetry, fiction, and plays. Born in Cittadella, Michela lives and works in Rome, where she carries out her work in collaboration with various journals on the web. She has published eight books of poetry, and she has received several national and international awards. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Romanian, French, and Arabic.

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope to have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen



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