We’ve all woken up at least once, contemplating the prospect of being someone else. What would it mean to have been born on another continent? How might life differ if we’d chosen an alternate educational path? Or where would we stand now if we’d summoned the courage to voice our innermost thoughts?

This article is for everyone who wonders what it would be like to be a woman today. Specifically, what it would be like to be a woman in Italy in 2023.

To be a woman in Italy in 2023 means having read on November 12 about the disappearance of a young girl named Giulia Cecchettin and having hoped that she would be found soon.

To be a woman in Italy in 2023 is to have been afraid for her for days.

To be a woman in Italy in 2023 is to have read about Giulia’s corpse being found on November 18.

To be a woman in Italy in 2023 means being utterly terror-stricken because Giulia fell victim to her ex-boyfriend. A person she once cherished, a friend who hiked mountains and traversed foreign lands alongside her.

To be a woman in Italy in 2023 means to question whether your achievements will be acknowledged fairly, to constantly wonder if your partner might turn out to be violent, to wonder if the person next to you really loves you.

‘Not all men’ often serves as a deflective tactic, allowing individuals to conveniently distance themselves from responsibility and evade personal accountability for gender-related issues. This retort, heavily condemned within feminist discourse, embodies the stance of men who conveniently deflect deeper conversations about the systemic influence of patriarchy on gender dynamics, believing that refraining from overtly violent actions exempts them from further scrutiny

The phrase serves as a defense mechanism. Men seek constant reassurance, validation, and praise for not engaging in violence against their partners, refraining from harassing strangers, or reacting with astonishment or skepticism toward women in leadership roles at work.

This phrase holds weight because men persist in categorizing individuals like Filippo Turetta, the former partner and murderer of Giulia Cecchettin, as anomalies — monstrous exceptions, rather than manifestations of a broader societal paradigm. Turetta, akin to other perpetrators of femicide, isn’t an aberration. He’s a byproduct of entrenched patriarchal norms.

Interestingly, while men dominate various realms of violence, the invocation of “not all men” lacks equivalence in other domains. Curiously, this phrase isn’t summoned to defend the entirety of masculinity unless the discourse centers explicitly on women. This suggests an inclination to sidestep direct comparisons between genders, a deliberate effort to evade acknowledging women as victims within a system that has historically subjugated them.

What “not all men” overlooks is a pervasive yet frequently disregarded factor: fear. There exist a multitude of fears, ones that men may never truly comprehend — the trepidation of returning home alone, the anxiety of an unexpected assault, the terror of discovering unexpected truths within cherished relationships.

What remains exasperating is the enduring narrative surrounding the archetype of the “virtuous man,” the “affectionate man,” a portrayal inherently absolved of any potential for violence. This simplistic narrative overlooks the pervasive influence of fear. Journalistic narratives often neglect Giulia’s apprehensions toward the young man, erroneously painted by Turetta’s family counsel as a “gentle, caring student who indulged her with baked goods.” It was Elena Cecchettin, Giulia’s sister, who candidly depicted his domineering and volatile persona.

In the context of femicide, media attention often gravitates towards the perpetrators, while the murdered women are portrayed as depersonalized victims. These women are reduced to mere statistics, overshadowed by sensationalized narratives that fail to acknowledge their individuality, dreams, and contributions. They become secondary to the story, denied the depth and representation they deserve amidst the sensationalism surrounding their tragic deaths. Why confine us to mere roles in a catalog of two-dimensional victims, eclipsed by the dominating personalities of the perpetrators that capture headlines, detailed exposés, and televised features?

One can’t help but selfishly fear that at this point it could happen to anybody. Your sister, your cousin, your best friend, your teacher, your classmate. All of them have experienced gender-based violence in one way or another. And maybe you have, too. Because perhaps it is true, it is not all men who perpetrate all gender injustice and violence. But it is all women who suffer from them. 

But if tomorrow’s my turn, I want to be the last one.


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