“Leave the Kids Alone”:
A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Glorification of Reproductive Futurism in Anti-gender and Pro-family Movements in Italy
In this paper we engage in a critical exploration of the strategic use of weaponised and glorified media representations of children and (re)production in anti-gender and pro-family movements. We argue that this strategy aims to portray the heteronormative family as the “natural” aim, the normal (normative) condition of living, and the only acceptable social engagement in society. We analyse these semantic representations through three theoretical lenses: anti-social queer theory, children’s rights theory, and intersectional feminism. These inform and share the critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 2013) of media documentation of two recent events in Italy: the pro-family conference “The Wind of Change: Europe and the Global Pro-Family Movement”, which took place in Verona in March 2019; and the reactionary far-right and ultra-Catholic campaigns in response to the updated guidelines for the application of the Abortion Law 194, in regard to the administration of the abortion pill (RU486) in August 2020. We review three recurrent concepts in the rhetoric of the anti-gender and pro-family movements discussed in the analysed media articles: the Child; reproductive futurism; and the glorification of hetero-normative modes of socialisation, discussed here as “positive sociality”. In exploring the ideological discourses presented in relation to these concepts, we adopt Bersani’s (1995) critique of heteronormative practices as a starting point. Findings highlight the modality in which anti-gender and pro-family movements utilise these three ideological concepts as weapons to define non-normative sociality as a threat to the traditional (and reproductive) family as well as the (white) nation.
Copyright (c) 2023 Francesca Zanatta, Elisa Virgili
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