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Guilty until proven innocent

This article is published in issue 48 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until 28 November 2023. To celebrate our #20changes with us, read here

Last week, before the discovery of Giulia Cecchettin’s lifeless body, we published on our website a very controversial article by Valeria Fonte, an activist and writer who, in short, claims that “all men think like a feminicide thinks” . In the piece, Fonte interviews a man who killed his wife, who served his sentence and who was released from prison today. Fonte’s thesis divided the editorial staff: many argued that her position was harsh and radical and that she made people think. Others, however, considered it too radical, very divisive, because the equation man equals feminicide is misleading.

After the death of Giulia Cecchettin and the arrest of her ex-boyfriend Filippo Turetta, public opinion in our country was divided in half in more or less the same way: on the one hand there are those who believe it is a problem of an individual or of some individuals who do not know how to manage emotions, loves and losses, going so far as to commit murderous gestures; on the other hand, there are those who focus attention on the community and on patriarchal culture which, more generally, are the ones truly responsible for the misogynistic words we use, for the sexist phrases uttered by many institutions, for the laws that still do not fully contain violence against women, wage disparities which are another source of the phenomenon. In this division in half of the public, the question that emerges is: was Giulia Cecchettin’s femicide caused by the fit of an individual or by the customs of an entire society?

I think that reasoning through polarizations and reduction to opposing schemes is too easy, very convenient and almost always useless. On the contrary, asking ourselves how, where and why we can change is instead a way of trying to make sense of this umpteenth dramatic crime committed by a man on a woman.

Patrick Dempsey, our cover star, explains that cultural change also and above all starts from the family, from the education of children, especially sons. And many of the writers, philosophers, activists and journalists that we have heard in recent weeks in our newspaper and on our website maintain that the problem and its solution are also in the hands of politicians, of those who govern us, of those who must give ‘example with the words he chooses and with the laws he promulgates.

For my part, allow me a reflection. We have rightly and legitimately been accustomed to deeming every person accused of a crime or crime innocent until proven guilty. In terms of female emancipation, the end of patriarchy, the dismantling of misogyny, I advise you to do the opposite, especially if you are men: try to consider yourself guilty until proven otherwise of the words, terms, clichés, attitudes that they continue to perpetrate a patriarchal and misogynistic culture. Unfortunately, none of us can or could stop the latest feminicide. But we can all prevent a toxic culture from allowing even the slightest phrase, the sexist comment, the chauvinist habit that allows feminicides to happen, not to be recognized and not to be prevented.

Try to think you are guilty until proven innocent. It is the only way we have to change and do justice to an unjustifiable fact like the death of Giulia Cecchettin.

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Source: Vanity Fair

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