The Women's Movements of the United States and Western Europe: Consciousness, Political Opportunity, and Public Policy

By Mary Fainsod Katzenstein; Carol McClurg Mueller | Go to book overview

larly important. Given the PCI's ideology, it will always be more responsive to organized feminists than other parties, but it will also always place its response in the context of that ideology -- that is, on its own terms -- and hence will never be able to respond to feminist issues to the satisfaction of feminists.

In the case of sexual violence legislation, even if the feminist movement is able to succeed in mobilizing public opinion, the PCI's pattern of response on its own (nonfeminist) terms is likely to endure. To respond otherwise, it would have to become a very different kind of party.

The problems for feminists seeking social and political change are immense. If the PCIis the party most responsive to feminist pressure, the future for feminist success appears bleak. With the death of Enrico Berlinguer, 27the leadership of the party (and perhaps its direction) is uncertain; with the political (but not necessarily electoral) success of the PSIin capturing the prime ministership, the PCIis not likely to come any closer to power than it did under DC prime ministers. What Samuel Barnes said of Italy in the late 1970s is still the case:

The policy-making game on the national level was largely restricted to players who had been close to the dominant party in the electoral game, augmented by individuals, groups and institutions that carried societal weight and whose interests did not clash with or greatly threaten those of the dominant party. ( Barnes 1977, 12)

Since the feminist movement is not among those "players close to the dominant party" but in fact is found repugnant by the DC, the movement alone is not likely to have much success and will be limited in influencing policy through the PCI's mode of responsiveness. Since parties are still the major representatives of political interests and issues, it is impossible for the feminist movement to avoid parties and parliament and still achieve its goals. Unless Italian feminists succeed in organizing a feminist political party (which seems highly improbable, both because of the strong political cleavages that cross-cut sex and because of the movement's explicit rejection of the party way of doing politics), feminists will remain less represented in terms of policy on feminist issues than they wish, regardless of the content of the issue they are pressing and of their method of organizing for its success.


NOTES

Acknowledgments: Gianfranco Pasquino has been reading drafts of my various essays on Italian politics for six years; I am so deeply indebted to him for his guidance and insight that even profuse gratitude seems inadequate. Yet I do thank him profusely, as well as Sidney Tarrow, Judith Adler Hellman, and Stephen Hellman.

1.
Matrimonio riparatore laws, "enforced" primarily in the south of Italy, are a part of the penal code that invalidates rape as a crime if the victim marries the rapist. Strong social pressures brought upon the victim frequently result in forced marriage to the rapist.
2.
For example, the Christian Democratic party has, from time to time, through its Movimento Femminile, argued that women require financial security and stability in order

-167-

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