search burger
search ×

Men, the great absent in the debate on gender violence

We have asked some men to reflect on the wave of violence in recent weeks, going beyond the mere condemnation of what happened. Is the feminist struggle our duty? Are we capable of questioning ourselves?


From the news of these weeks, it seems that Italy has discovered that it has a problem in gender relations: apparently it needed yet another rape, with adjoining vomiting chat goliardic. The wave of indignation of these days is likely to last as long as a soap bubble: all focused on the violent act itself, obviously to be condemned, few who have questioned the root causes of rape. Someone did it in the worst possible way, falling into the nastiest victim blaming: “if you avoid getting drunk, maybe avoid running into the wolf”.

Visualizza questo post su Instagram

Un post condiviso da The Wom (@thewom)

Among the actors of a deeper debate there is a great absence, man: yes, because the first to ask ourselves certain questions should be us, the protagonists of these violence. I have the feeling that there is yet another gender disparity, also on this subject: whenever violence becomes public knowledge, it is women who discuss and raise awareness of what happened, not men, who limit themselves to an aseptic I would never do it. Yet there are many questions to ask: why is this happening? What are the internalized behaviours that lead then to the extreme act of Palermo? We tried to talk about it with some men.

Visualizza questo post su Instagram

Un post condiviso da Modern Cinderellas (@modern_cinderellas_ita)

Luca, 35, is horrified by the news of Palermo and Caivano: to upset are above all reactions and comments on social media. 

It is all surreal: to have to point out again that these are inhuman behaviours, that a mother has defended her child and blamed the victim, but above all that it is the new generations that carry out certain patterns. I have the feeling that men perceive it as a complex subject, that they do not talk about it: many around me would condemn the act and would not recognize themselves in that cultural system (and that would not be enough); others, alas, would be ready to accuse the victim. I do not ask myself questions as a man but as a human being: how far is there still to go? How seriously is this problem being tackled?

Do you think it’s related to the economic-social context in which a man grows up?

In part it is an alibi: sexist behaviour and violence are in the worst neighbourhood of Italy as much as in the richest. I think it is a problem that arises within all families: a boy grows up in a machista environment where you must always inflate his chest; that maybe teaches him to prevail over women economically, to have control of everything. We add that no man around him says “this is bullshit”: if you feel entitled to restrict a person’s freedom, what separates you from doing such an act? It’s a fine line, often underestimated.

Visualizza questo post su Instagram

Un post condiviso da ivan romano (

For Luigi, 57, one of the problems at the root of violence lies in the representation of sex. 

On the part of men there is a purely mechanical view of sex: I must do it, whether you (woman) want it or not. It is something creepy, in my opinion fed by uncontrolled access to pornography. I am not demonizing it, but I believe that the new generations, and not only, we have a distorted vision of sex, confused with submission and dominance of man over woman: a normalization of these acts that deresponsibilize those who perform them. What is lacking is education in respect for the other, in affectivity rather than sexuality.

Visualizza questo post su Instagram

Un post condiviso da Fab! (@thatsfabofficial)

Violence is the tip of the iceberg, the one that makes the most noise, the greatest failure of a male-dominated society. Do you have a perception of living in this kind of society?

Of course, globally we live in a male-dominated society. Let me give you an example: in my field of work, especially in Italy, I noticed that there is a difficulty in talking with a female engineer or a female commercial reseller. Among colleagues I have not heard he is good? but how is it?; often you use informal tone with the professionals, not to mention the wage gap. I see a link between these behaviours and violence; there is always a lack of education for equality, respect.

I also realize that I have internalized some male mechanics: in a restaurant, I felt embarrassed because, for a malfunction of the card, paid my partner. A reaction if you want banal for a small fact, but that aroused the why.

Visualizza questo post su Instagram

Un post condiviso da Factanza (@factanza)

If this is the scenery, how do you reverse the trend?


Stefano, 25, puts the education of his peers and the protection of the victim first.

We must give more legal and psychological support to those who have suffered violence and stop once and for all with the guilt. Unfortunately, I think my parents' generation is hopeless: too convinced that they are right and too presumptuous to understand that it is never too late to learn. It is pointless for us to self-flagellate and hide behind a we are not all like that: let us question ourselves daily; let us learn to recognise sexist behaviour and to break it. And above all, let us not turn away from these facts, let us stop believing that they are issues of exclusive women’s prerogative. Don’t worry, we’re no less manly if we’re feminists.



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios