Date of Award

Winter 2-1-2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Christopher Toulouse, Ph.D.


Though Italy has been plagued by maschilismo (the Italian word for machismo, or rather, toxic masculinity) and violent misogyny for as long as it has been a country, there has rarely been any appropriate insight as to why Italian men are more violent towards their partners, on average, than other men in the European Union. Italian men have been known as “passionate” and “possessive,” but rarely it is discussed how poorly these “passionate” men treat their female partners. Italy has an astounding prevalence rate of 78 percent across the country for happenstances of domestic violence and an estimated 32 percent of Italian women have been a victim of sexual violence (United Nations), yet there have been few attempts to try to rectify these statistics. Italy has recently elected a known sexual predator, Silvio Berlusconi, former four-time prime minister, into the European Parliament despite his reputation. So, the question is why are women treated this way in Italy and how can it be stopped? My answer to the first part of that question is Catholicism. I am arguing that Italy’s long and sordid history with the Catholic church has affected the general Italian public’s perception of women even if the country is gradually moving away from devout religiosity. This thesis is going to examine how religion becomes deeply entrenched into the collective consciousness and constructs basic morality and points of judgement. Even further, how that constructed morality creates impossible standards for women which can then lead to horrific spiteful violence from their fathers, brothers, and partners. Religion is a safe space for a lot of Italian women, but it is also a tool in their destruction.