Women in the Italian Mafia

The video was recorded in 2001 and it shows that women take strategic and essential roles in the mafia. On the other hand, my recent study argues that there are different woman characters and the reductionist attempt to generalise mafia women under the one umbrella character is not helpful neither to understand the role of women nor sociocultural codes of the mafia. I attached some important passages from the article that was published in Deviant Behavior. Please click here to read the full article.

"The diversification of women’s characters has not been categorized or conceptualized from a feminist perspective. This article aims to fill this gap first by categorizing women in the Italian mafia groups according to their roles in the Mafia family and cultural perceptions about the meaning of the mafia throughout their lives. Three types of women are introduced: conservative radicals (active and passive), defectors, and radicals. Deploying the classification of women as a tool to clarify mapping varied women’s identities, this study endeavors to contribute to the theoretical framework concerning the social identities of women influenced by the culture of their own societies and the changes in their social behaviors influenced by different cultural perspectives of each woman toward the mafia. On one hand, the proposed theoretical inquiry focuses on the emotions, experiences, and cultural perceptions of women whose lives have been taken over by the mafia’s oppression and patriarchy. On the other hand, the proposed theory illuminates the social behaviors of women who resisted the mafiosi culture or embraced the ethics and morals of the mafiosi culture and play indispensable roles either actively managing the business of the mafia or taking a passive role by transferring the cultural codes of the Mafia to the next generation.

The table below is a brief explanation clarfying that how women profiles are diversified in the mafia. More importantly, the power of patriarchy and oppression play an indispensable role over the behaviors of the women.

The feminist theory of belief and action has been developed in this study by applying it to women who belong to one of four main Italian mafia syndicates. Even if the proposed theory is limited to the individual cases in this article, it can be applicable in other parts of the world to analyze the changes in the social behaviors of both men and women in mafiosi culture, which are formed with secrecy, authority, and patriarchy. The main contention of the feminist theory of belief and action conveys the argument that the beliefs must be strong enough to trigger the actions against the oppression of the patriarchal system and its challenges. If the actions cannot be accomplished or are not resilient enough to overcome the intimidation and deterrence of the mafiosi, it is impossible for women to defy the mafia. A remedy to the sufferings of women depends on their cultural perceptions and beliefs, which must be strong enough to be realized through their consistent actions against the mafia and its oppression. There is one more step for those who live in such oppression: First, they must become aware of the mafia’s intrusive power and must act by standing against it as the defectors did in our case.

This study does not consider how to develop antimafia policies concerning women. However, if one aims to do so, he or she may first use this study to understand how the women’s cultural perceptions and beliefs affect their actions and how those actions influence the system of the mafia through creating different personal traits. Above all, the freedom of women depends on the concurrence of their cultural perceptions, which are articulated by conflated beliefs and actions. Thereby, the beliefs should be endorsed and put into practice by the actions. If the particular case is a woman in the mafia, then both the beliefs and actions need to act as two oars, pulling together in the direction of emancipation. Better yet, the social behaviors of women in the mafia are not static but dynamic and they may radically change as the defectors did by changing their cultural perceptions about the mafia phenomenon. The emancipation of women hinges on persistent and decisive actions as the rebels did by ending those violent and patriarchal communities once believed to be invincible, unrivaled, and indestructible."