In a liberal democracy, both legally and culturally, being pilloried is an act of violence. According to Treccani, the figurative meaning, taken from the name of the iron collar, which, thank God, is no longer used – “to shame, expose others to ridicule and contempt”, is as simple as that. When we talk about the pillory, many think of the aisles of those on death row, who are destined for the last insult to the people before they end up being hanged in front of a roaring crowd. An image came to mind, a 2011 photograph of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former French minister and director of the International Monetary Fund, handcuffed and escorted by police as he walks a few meters outside a New York City police station where he was being interrogated on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid . This image, this photograph, was obscene and violent, so much so that it caused a lot of discussion at the time due to the very doubtful possibility of their distribution and thus the spread of the pillory around the world.
This is a completely different case (there is a serious crime, here it is a matter of the heart or horns) from what everyone (or almost) is talking about these days, or a video that instantly went viral on social networks, in which a Turin banker, having gathered friends for a party , who was supposed to announce the wedding, “unloads” her promise in front of everyone, because she cheated on him. But the same thing happened with the pillory, that is, humiliation and exposing others to the ridicule.
Also in this case, the person – it is not disclosed here what gender, right or wrong, and all other aspects that interfere at the second level of interpretation – was singled out for public ridicule, then amplified by the media, for it to be carried out. Discussing whether the person who made the egregious gesture had “good” reasons already somewhat justifies it. Just as it is obvious that the rare public disapproval of such an act (its pillorying of her rather than her betrayal of him) is due to deep-seated male chauvinism and a persistent patriarchal culture in Italy, from which arise extensive speculations about many forms violence against women, up to femicides. This is all true, alas, but this is a different reading plan.
If a woman, rather than a man, has publicly exposed her partner’s infidelity – a much more unlikely fact, we admit, for the same reasons that when a woman cheats, she is considered a bitch, and a man, even more so sometimes, a companion who is mistaken, and therefore deserves comradely pity – if, as we said, “sputtanamento” (a very clear word in this light) were reversed, the pillory would be just as obscene, without extenuating circumstances for a woman. The quickest at this moment will think of Shakira, her song that became a worldwide hit, in which she does not send them to tell her ex, football player Pique, that he left her for a younger girl (instead of Twingo Ferrari or Casio instead of Rolex, according to pop stars). If a singer can make millions and millions of dollars off his husband’s horns, the unmarried gentleman will be able to talk publicly about the adventures of his ex-wife-to-be, as is usually the case with political correctness. No, it can’t, because Shakira made her song months after she broke up with Pique, and when everything – betrayal, breakup, new engagement – was already public. In any case, it would not be a very subtle operation, a juggling of private facts in public (and what a public one, too), but nothing to do with the local fact in question, a real ambush with deceit, even in the direction of an ignorant and confused public ( the party was supposed to be a wedding).
I will not go into the legal implications, but it is possible that the woman will take revenge in the relevant forums, and there is reason to hope so. From a cultural point of view, there remains a pillory in front of which, in whatever place we find ourselves, from Iran to New York, to “good Turin”, and for any offense or behavior, from the most serious crime to simple treason, we all must to feel deep anxiety and take the side of the victim of humiliation, whose rights are violated and exposed to the ridicule of the masses. If this does not happen, and if the pillory generates solidarity or complicit laughter towards the one who does it, whether it be the executioner of a totalitarian state or a banal cuckold, bad times are over.