A dishonest look

The neo-fascist appropriation of the discourse on gender-based violence in the Norma Cossetto case


  • Nicoletta Mandolini University of Minho, Portugal
  • Federico Tenca Montini Science and Research Center Koper, Slovenia and ERC Open Borders - Centro di Ricerche Scientifiche Capodistria, Croatia




Since the turn of the millennium, the issue of violence against women has emerged from the niche of feminist discourse and gained widespread visibility. In Italy, cases such as the rape and murder of Giovanna Reggiani by the Romanian Romulus Nicolae Maliat (2007) and, more recently, the killings of Pamela Mastropietro (2018) and Desirée Mariottini (2019) have fueled a political and media debate on the topic, in which far-right organizations have become involved. Italian and international research has already observed the instrumental function of reporting sexist abuse within the political discourse promoted by the new right, emphasizing its racist purposes and tendency toward historical revisionism. This article aims to contribute to the debate on femonationalism and gender violence through a study that sheds light on the strategies employed by the new right in Italy to fuel a revisionist rhetoric concerning the issue of the “eastern border” during the fascist era. The case under examination is that of Norma Cossetto, the daughter of a fascist hierarch who was presumably raped, killed, and placed in a foiba by Croatian insurgents during the Istrian uprising in 1943. Cossetto is extensively cited by Italian far-right groups in relation to the issue of gender violence. Through the qualitative frame analysis of 26 articles published on the websites Comitato 10 febbraio and Il primate nazionale, the study highlights the presence of a clear internal negotiation process within Italian far-right organizations regarding communication on the topic of sexist violence. This process prompts reflection on the delicate balance between political correctness and explicit conservativism that, in Italy as elsewhere, characterizes the relationship between neo-fascisms, right-wing populisms, and gender issues.

Keywords: gender violence, Norma Cossetto, femorevisionism, far right, femonationalism.