Marginalized identities began to develop as a slogan for elections. Boasting a female prime minister, senator, president or any other position of power has been seen as a form of feminism and progress.
Leaving the polls at the end of September projected a crushing promise for the right-wing Italian Brothers of Italy party. Leading actress Giorgia Meloni is set to serve as the first female Prime Minister of Italy. But as discussion of the implications of Meloni’s impending election spills over the internet, we must be careful not to let her identity as a woman in a male-dominated field overshadow her belligerent attitude towards the LGBTQ community, immigrants and women. So-called girlbossing should not excuse fascism.
In recent years, Meloni revived the neo-fascist Brothers of Italy and led the party to victory last month. With a notable woman in power as a potential prime minister, women and other historically marginalized groups in Italy could anticipate progressive politics that advances their interests. That couldn’t be further from the truth. His party’s alliance has already close down a bill that would have made violence against the LGBTQ community a hate crime. It also currently plans to curb immigration by preventing refugee rescue boats from docking at Italian ports. Moreover, following Meloni’s election, thousands of people protested in favor of the right to abortion which is due to him intention limit the number of abortions in Italy.
These policies reveal that Meloni is not an ally of women, Italian immigrants or many other marginalized groups in Italy, but a dangerous signal warning the direction of Italian politics towards white nationalism.
Rdeferred at on Twitter as “the second coming of Mussolini”, Meloni is under a size magnifying glass. Her gender identity has already been at the forefront of discussions among international leaders over her election. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “The election of a country’s first female prime minister always represents a break with the past, and that is certainly a good thing.” But it’s not. Instead of praising Meloni’s sex, we should focus on the extent of the damage his politics are likely to cause to millions of Italians. Representation means nothing if it does not make good use of it.
Using one’s race, gender, sexuality or any other identity to justify the oppression of minority groups is not a phenomenon limited to Italy. For example, the tenure of Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first female Prime Minister, did not bring about substantial change for women in the UK. thatcher suspended family allowances – traditionally a women-centred issue – and blame working mothers to raise a “nursery generation”. Whereas boasting herself as a powerful woman, she bashed single and working-class women across the UK
Other prominent figures, such as US Representatives Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene, have used their identities as women to tout harmful rhetoric. Boebert and Greene have consistently adopted anti-abortion and anti-LGBT rhetoric. Positioning themselves as wives and mothers, these women claim to support women, families and children while doing the opposite: attempting to restrict access to abortion and childcare. Believing that women cannot commit gross wrongs against other women robs women of the full humanity they deserve. Their policies have real and dangerous consequences for people across the United States and Meloni is no exception.
While some might argue that Meloni is paving the way for other women in politics, realistically she is merely pursuing her own career while obstructing policies that would help others, such as expanding reproductive rights and job quotas.
Giorgia Meloni is just the latest instance of a larger trend of using her identity to conceal or justify regressive politics. Praise for his identity has replaced scrutiny of his politics. We have to remember to pay close attention to direct policies and the boards proposed by candidates, rather than giving people free passes for their identities. Fascism is fascism no matter who holds the power.
The editorial above represents the majority opinion of Wheel’s editorial board. The editorial board is made up of Isabelle Bellott-McGrath, Rachel Broun, Evelyn Cho, Ellie Fivas, Marc Goedemans, Aayam Kc, Elyn Lee, Saanvi Nayar, Shruti Nemala, Nushrat Nur, Sara Perez, Ben Thomas and Kayla Robinson.