A pair of girl-chasers molest two women near Rome University and are roughed up by a group of feminists.
A 19-year-old accused of rape finds himself undergoing a "people's trial" held by 400 angry female high-school students in Milan.
A women's group takes credit for a gasoline bomb discovered under the car of a successful Genoa gynecologist.
Three armed women burst into the Milan office of a company accused of exploiting women and pour acid on the tyepwriter.
A television newsman filming a feminist demonstration is rescued by police from women enraged by his obscene gestures.
These incidents, all in the past three months, suggest that the growing feminist movement here is breaking away from Italian women's tradition of passivity venting rage in increasingly aggressive ways.
The women's movement that began here in the early 1970s was initially characterized by poor organization and typical Italian hyper-politicization. Its orginal emphasis on independence and autonomy now appears to be giving way to one of open hostility toward what is fundamentally a partiarchal society.
The two major grievances of Italian women at the moment are examples of what feminists here see as society's violence against women: the unresolved abortion question and the spread of rape, particularly by gangs of young men.
The banners, signs and slogans displayed at recent demonstrations in Rome, Milan and other major Italian cities show the new tone of militance: "Today We Are in th Piazzas to Fight for the Right to Abortion, Tomorrow We'll be Here With Guns," "Rebellion Is Beautiful," "Rapists, You Will Pay," are just some of the angry words.
In April, women waiting outside a Rome courthouse where seven rapists were on trial made a menacing scissors movement with their fingers and cried, "Come on out, we'll give you a good trial." On the same day in Milan high-school girls protesting a classmate's rape chanted, "Carnal violence, the courts don't know how, we women must arm ourselves now."
Feminist Maria Adele Teodori, who favors nonviolence, says that there is no doubt that "Rage is growing, as is the desire for a violent response to every new abuse, aggression or act of oppression."
Organized primarily in small groups of collectives that communicate primarily by word of mouth, telephone and feminist radio stations, the women's movement here has learned over the last year to overcome reluctance to tangle with police and to mobilize its forces quickly.
This new phase appears to stem from feminist involvement in two major rape trials last year: one in Rome where a teen-age girl was raped and tortured to death, and a second in Padua. On both occasions there were scuffles with police that gave the movement a new tone. Feminists in Rome recently braved tear gas and defied police orders to abandon a vigil at the sport where a teen-age girl had been killed by gunfire during a student demonstration.
So far this spring there have been two major occasions for mass mobilization by Italian women: the trial of seven youths alleegd to have participated in a gang rape of a 17-year-old girl, and the defeat of a liberal abortion bill by two votes in the Italian Senate.
These incidents provoked wide-spread reactions, including proposals for women's vigilante groups and civil disobedience over abortion.
"I don't believe in retaliation, but we must learn to use our capacity for violence for punishment and self-defense and get over our innate conviction that we were meant to be victim," said Susanna, a 20-year-old office worker.