New Perspectives in Italian Cultural Studies
Edited By Laura Benedetti, Julia Hairston and Julia L. Hairston
Woman as Subject: Theory and Micropolitical Practice in Italian Feminist Texts: Itala T. C. Rutter 19
Woman as Subject: Theory and Micropolitical Practices in Italian Feminist Texts ltala T.C. Rutter Contemporary Italian feminism differs in important respects from femi- nism in the U.S. and in Anglophone societies in general. As distinct from current manifestations in Anglo-American contexts, Italian feminism emphasizes women's difference and alterity from men and also tends to view political developments as intimately related to culture. Specific historical experiences as well as a complex cultural matrix have helped construct a widespread Italian conviction that it is extremely difficult to attempt to assess the relative importance or responsibility of the political versus the cultural origins of women's oppression. (The strikes of mondi- ne, women rice-field workers, which marked the beginnings of a women's movement in Italy in the late nineteenth century, were the earliest and most militant among all labor struggles. The song later adopt- ed by the anti-Fascist Partisans, Bella ciao, was initially addressed by a field worker to her daughter.) 1 It must be said here that less distinction is made, not just among feminists, but in Italian society as a whole between politics and culture, which are understood to be interconnected in complex, ineluctable ways. It has been argued that this is the inheritance of an older culture, with residues of an essentially "organic," irrational, and religious-sacramental view of the world.2 Personal and political elements also tend to be re- garded as inextricably interwoven by most Italian feminists. This percep- tion may be due to the fact that, historically, the oppression suffered...
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