Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Italian right-wing protests against same-sex marriage novel

Teenage students, brandishing neo-fascist banners, protested this week outside Rome’s Giulio Cesare high-school. The object of their protest? The latest novel, ‘Sei come Sei‘ (roughly translated as ‘you are what you are’)  by one of Italy’s most respected contemporary novelists, Melania G. Mazzucco – winner of the 2003 Premio Strega; more specifically the students were protesting the decision to set the novel as a reading text for discussion for a class in the school, aimed at students between the ages of 14-16.

The novel, which is published by Einaudi – one of Italy’s leading literary publishers – tells the story of a Eva, a young girl, and her parents (two men, Christian e Giose). When Christian dies suddenly, Eva finds herself deprived of not just one but both parents, as Giose is not legally recognised as her father. The novel contains a graphic oral-sex scene, which protesters have focused on in particular.

The far right group Lotta Studentesca, a student movement linked to the neo-fascist Forza Nuova political party, issued the following statement:

“The action in question was carried out to express our opposition to the decision of certain teachers to oblige some students of the school to read the novel ‘Sei come Sei‘, a Homosexual book, and an explicit one at that. It’s unacceptable that, in a time when financial crisis rules and unemployment is at record levels, deviant and perverse lifestyles are presented to students as normal, or as a priority. It’s up to us, the youth, to resurrect the fate of our nation and it’s certainly not through gay propaganda that this will be possible. The fundamental nucleus of our society is actually the family, the traditional one, made up of a father, mother and children, and it’s only on this model that the future of our nation is based. We hope that further episodes like this won’t take place, and that novels of this ‘type’ will be eliminated definitively from the public school” 1

The Principle of the school, Micaela Ricciardi, defending the actions of the teachers, declared:
“These are attempts to exploit the situation by the extreme right, months after the fact. The book is beautiful and helps for the discussion of themes like the new family and homophobia. The kids enjoyed it. We educate, we deal continuously with the outing of teenagers who discover their homosexuality and we need to reduce the risks of homophobia and discrimination.”2

Protests have come from various right-wing groups, and from more mainstream catholic organisations – many focusing on the explicit sex scene, and suggesting that students were forced to read this aloud in class, something which has been denied. The book was set as reading for the class, but explicit passages were not read aloud in class, and the discussion in class centered on the general themes of the book. The controversy is part of a wider heated debate on same-sex marriage (successive governments, both left and right, have avoided the issue), and homophobia (an anti-homophobia law is crawling its way through bureaucracy and obstructionism in the parliament).

Melania Mazzucco has responded to the controversy, saying:
“I’m convinced that the real reason behind the accusations and the attempts to censor the novel aren’t those that have been proclaimed [the gay sex scenes]. That’s just a pretext. What’s scandalous about the novel isn’t the obscenity, but actually the opposite. That is the absolute normality of Eva’s family, of her parents (two men), of the feelings that bind them together and to their daughter.”

Marzzucco is the author of a number of critically acclaimed novels. Her 2003 prize winning novel Vita mixed non-fiction with fiction to tell the story of Italian emigration in the 19th century.

1. Wired (Italia) 28/04/2014 “L’azione in questione”, ha dichiarato Andrea Di Cosimo, responsabile di Lotta Studentesca, “è stata effettuata per esprimere il nostro dissenso nei confronti della decisione di alcuni docenti di sottoporre, agli alunni delle classi del ginnasio, la lettura del romanzo ‘Sei come sei’, di carattere decisamente omosessualista e fin troppo esplicito. E’ inaccettabile che al giorno d’oggi, con la crisi che impera e con la disoccupazione a livelli record, vengano presentati ai giovani studentimodelli di vita deviati e perversi come se fossero la normalità o rappresentassero una priorità. Spetterà a noi ragazzi rialzare le sorti del nostro paese e non sarà di certo attraverso la propaganda gay che ciò sarà possibile. Il nucleo fondamentale della società è infatti la famiglia, quella tradizionale, formata da padre, madre e figli ed è solo su questo modello che si baserà il futuro della nostra nazione. Ci auguriamo che non si verifichino più episodi di questo tipo e che romanzi del ‘genere’ vengano eliminati definitivamente dalla scuola pubblica”

2. il fatto quotidiano 28/04/2014“Sono strumentalizzazioni dell’estrema destra, a mesi di distanza – ribatte la preside del liceo Micaela Ricciardi -. Il libro é bello e serve per parlare di temi come le famiglie di nuovo tipo e l’omofobia. I ragazzi hanno apprezzato. Noi facciamo educazione, ci confrontiamo di continuo con l’outing di giovanissimi che scoprono di essere omosessuali e dobbiamo ridurre i rischi di omofobia o discriminazione”

3. La Repubblica 28/04/2014“Sono convinta che la vera ragione dell’accusa e del tentativo di censurare il romanzo non sia quella che viene proclamata (scene di sesso gay, ndr) – dice – Questa è solo un pretesto. Ciò che scandalizza davvero del romanzo non è l’oscenità, ma proprio il contrario. Cioè l’assoluta normalità della famiglia di Eva, dei suoi genitori (due uomini), dei sentimenti che li legano fra loro e alla loro figlia”

Leave a Reply