by Enrico Petrucci

Affective learning, this is the mantra that has been echoed in the media following the tragic murder of Giulia Cecchettin. An event that, more than other "feminicides", seems to have shaken public opinion, just think of the case of Giulia Tramontano, also seven months pregnant, a few months ago. This time, the news has gone beyond the usual mixture of morbid interest in crime news and the polemics on toxic machismo and patriarchy that are inevitable when criminal events are gendered.

In this case, perhaps it was the hope that Giulia Cecchettin's case would not end tragically, or perhaps it was the fact that the victim and the killer, unlike in other news cases, fell more into the stereotypes of the 'good guys next door' (and engineering students to boot!) that made the media resonate more than ever. Even the La 7 evening show Otto e Mezzo entitled its 20 November episode "Giulia Cecchettin, “murdered by State”?

And thanks to a politics that now lives only by the logic of the emergency, the debate has gone beyond the usual disquisitions on toxic machismo and patriarchy and has introduced a new element into the communication agenda, that of affectivity education. A rather generic term, even linked to the Zan Act, as Monica Cirinnà did in response to a tweet by Massimo Giannini about this murder by writing:

Education for respect and affectivity were in our Zan law scuttled in the Senate by the right with a secret vote followed by applause. Now they all have to shut up and feel guilty. In the name of #giuliacecchettin no more crocodile tears: Will you reconsider?

Affective learning, proposed almost as a thaumaturgical concept, for which the word would be enough to reduce the number of homicides in the context of couples. The usual magical thinking that the West seems to have fallen victim to. Affective learning that is proposed without ever going into the merits of programmes or descriptions of how this affective learning would be delivered in schools. And, above all, without even daring to say whether these 'affectivity educations' that have already been applied abroad have already produced any measurable benefits.

In short, rather than a proposal, 'affective education' or ‘affective learning’ is the classic slogan to be applied in an emergency logic. Especially in a context in which more than one psychologist and psychotherapist put these crimes in a different key. Like deresponsabilisation and the social context in which all life must appear perfect (as Elisa Caponetti su Il Messaggero does in Il Messaggero). A general immaturity that makes adults think about possession like children (Francesco Borgonovo's interview with Mariolina Ceriotti Migliarese in La Verità). An overly permissive parental upbringing that leaves young people unprepared for life outside the family nest (writes Massimo Ammaniti in Il Giornale). In short, if we leave aside for a moment the gender violence, the arguments of immaturity, deresponsabilisation and the rhetoric of "growing up in childishness" and "perfect social life", we could easily link these causes to other tragic events that often shake public opinion, such as suicides (successful or attempted) close to degrees never obtained. An aspect that, apart from the interventions of a few experts, is completely lost in the media.

And so we return to toxic machismo, gender violence, patriarchy and, as the loudest response, the phantom of affective learning. So much so that the government is trying to fill the gap by proposing, as Valditara did, a plan that was immediately and simplistically taken up by the press as "an hour with psychologists and influencers". And here one could make the simplistic joke that one hopes that the chosen influencers are neither trappers, whose texts often seem to incite rather than prevent gender violence, nor Only Fans models, whose display of bodies seems to incite the objectification of women more than anything else.

READ ALSO
Reflections on an infanticide: beyond the narrative of "toxic masculinity"

Even the talk of bringing in influencers to talk about these issues could have a basis in showing how even 'perfect social lives' are made up of responsibilities, sorrows and defeats. In general, however, there is a danger that the slogan of those who call for 'affectivity education' will be the classic mixture of intersectional principles and critical race theory (the implications of gender theory can also be left out of the question), as demonstrated by the extensive international case studies of these phenomena.

Just think of what happened in Australia few years ago, when 12-year-old boys were forced to apologise to their classmates in court for male violence. Much controversy, traumatised children and then the school forced to apologise because good intentions led to an inappropriate choice, as Newsweek reported: "As part of this discussion, boys were asked to stand as a symbolic gesture of apology for the behaviours of their gender that have hurt or offended girls and women. In retrospect, while well-intended, we recognise that this part of the assembly was inappropriate."

An isolated incident, you might say. But the local newspaper chronicles of the more advanced Western world are full of such incidents. And according to some unconfirmed rumours circulating on social media, the practice of demanding a public apology from boys in the classroom has already arrived here in Italy.

After all, what happened in the Australian middle school is nothing more than a local variation of the so-called Prilevege Walk, a central element of 'education' based on CRT and intersectional principles. Now indiscreetly applied from corporate team building to primary schools in California. All sorts of questions are asked (from family type to education type and of course all the gender paraphernalia). Those who are privileged in relation to the question take a step forward, those who are not take a step back. At the end of their education, the privileged make a public apology to the less privileged. This, especially in primary schools, becomes a kind of collective, preventive guilt trip for anyone with the slightest privilege according to intersectional principles (it is enough to have non-divorced parents to be privileged).

These are the risks when it comes to affective learning. Pre-emptive blaming of anyone who does not belong to an oppressed minority. Even before the tragic epilogue with the discovery of Giulia Cecchettin's body, we had shining examples of this, such as the Vanity Fair headline: 'All men think like a feminicide' of 15 November. Do you really think that this kind of thinking, as the Australian case shows, is what we want to teach our children? The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

+ post

Essayist and popularizer, among his publications Alessandro Blasetti. Il padre dimenticato del cinema italiano (Idrovolante, 2023). With Emanuele Mastrangelo Wikipedia. L’Enciclopedia libera e l’egemonia dell’in­formazione (Bietti, 2013) and Iconoclastia. La pazzia contagiosa della cancel culture che sta distruggendo la nostra storia (Eclettica, 2020).