The Enemy of the New Man
Homosexuality in Fascist Italy
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Let us imagine an Italian in Fascist Italy at the beginning of the 1940s who wanted to know something more about how Fascism viewed homosexuality and what the eventual punishment for being homosexual might have been. Of course, our Italian already knew that public opinion in Fascist Italy, like in Liberal Italy, severely condemned homosexuality as did Catholic morality, for ...
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The idea for this book came to me after reading the work of George L. Mosse, whose studies, like Ariadne’s thread, were able to guide me during some difficult moments. A heartfelt thanks to Emilio Gentile; his comments, which always led to queries and new considerations, encouraged me to look at issues from multiple points of view and to critically evaluate interpretations that are often taken for ...
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Introduction: Against Nature: Masculinity and Homosexuality
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In 2000, when I began doing research on homosexuality and Fascism, the argument was all but ignored in Italy. Fascism’s repression of homosexuality did not even receive attention at the gay pride festival in Rome that summer, despite the enormous media attention surrounding the event. It was as though the homosexual community had taken center stage out of nowhere without ...
1. The Making of the Virile Italian
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After the unification of Italy, the difficult task of “making Italians,” of nationalizing the masses, meant not only spreading the ideal of a common nation but creating conformity in behavior, habits, and lifestyle, something the kaleidoscope of Italian regions lacked, so much so that it seriously jeopardized the creation of a unified state. The socioeconomic and cultural differences between ...
2. The Discovery of Homosexuality
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In the nineteenth century the continuous avoidance of any reference to homosexuality—a taboo subject of such unspeakable indecency and immorality that even classical Greek and Latin texts were censored to avoid corrupting the honest reader—was destined to clash with the new scientific interest in sexuality.1 Yet the “conspiracy of silence” regarding “abnormal” sexual behavior was broken ...
3. Sodomy: Sin or Crime
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The rise of Fascism seemed to ease the Church’s growing concern with the rapidly changing nature of sexual morality brought on by modernity and accelerated by the First World War. For the Church, the secularization taking place collided with morality, creating a divergence between sacred Christian principles and the lifestyle of citizens, official religious precepts, and everyday life. ...
4. The Repression of Homosexuality
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Although there was no specific law regarding the “crime” of homosexuality, the repression of the “vice,” as well as the persecution of any behavior that did not conform to state-imposed rules, were the basic instruments that Fascism implemented in its attempt to completely regenerate Italian society and the Italian people. Mussolini expressed this prerogative very clearly as early as ...
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5. Madmen or Criminals
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Institutions such as jails and insane asylums were also used to repress homosexuality. As we have seen, despite the lack of any specific article against homosexual relationships, one could be condemned for indecent behavior or solicitation, two crimes that had acquired a very broad meaning during the dictatorship, including, of course, any violation of the Fascist standard of virility. Consequently, ...
6. The Political Use of Homosexuality
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During the Fascist period, homosexuality—the accusation of practicing it— became a common weapon for attacking one’s political adversaries. Accusing an adversary of homosexuality served to remove politically troublesome individuals or to have others, often public figures, dismissed, threatened, or blackmailed. Whether the person was actually a homosexual or not mattered very little. ...
7. Bourgeois Respectability and Fascist Morality
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The fact that the regime wavered between repression and laxity in relation to pederasty was largely due to its rigid view of homosexuality and its largely superficial idea of virility. As a consequence, only those whose public behavior went against the stereotype of the virile, muscular, traditionally attired, and sexually active male—such as effeminate men, transvestites, and prostitutes— were persecuted. ...
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Further Reading, Back Cover
Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: George L. Mosse Series