I was meaning to write up about how Borut Pahor was re-elected president of the Social Democrats and how he – in what is apparently becoming a pattern – got rid of people who held his flank during the last ten years. But it will have to wait as something else caught my eye this morning: an email by Aleš Primc, a member of Slovene People’s Party (SLS) who in 2001 was one of the petitioners for a referendum on – watch this – Law on Treatment of Infertility and In-vitro Fertilisation Procedures with Biomedical Assistance.
Aleš Primc and a portion of his letter
To cut a long story short, apart from treating infertility of couples, this law provided for fertile single women to be in-vitro fertilised as well. Which shook the patriarchal structure of this sorry excuse for a country to the bone. Suddenly men felt as if they are being deprived of their manhood, for how will the world continue if women will be able to have a baby when they want and not only when men come. Furthermore, there were hysterical shrieks (mostly induced by the Catholic Church) that this is the end of traditional family as we know it and that – what horror! – lesbians will be able to have children as well.
Needles to say that the referendum was a big success and that at a traditionally low attendance (36 percent) three quarters of all votes cast were in favour of striking down the law.
But that was eight years ago.
And this morning, as I checked the Firm’s™ mailbox, there was, among tons of advice on how to “impress your girlfriend with new measurments”, “customer receipts/purchase informations”, “delivery status notifications” and Nigerians assuring me that I’m “a man of honour”, there was a letter by Mr. Primc (age 36, btw), who was outraged by Darja Zaviršek, a professor at the Faculty of Social Work in Ljubljana who apparently called for another go at legislation which was struck down eight years ago.
This prompted Primc to write – among other things – that “Some at Faculty of Social Work think about depriving us of our sex life and fatherhood. (…) Apparently some women in Slovenia find men repulsive. It happens. But I can’t understand that Faculty od Social Works gives cover and apparent scientific legitimacy to these frustrations. One would expect from teachers at the faculty to seek solutions to many social problems this country has, rather than create new ones.”
In other words, rather than poking about what is scientifically defined as “the basic societal cell”, folks at the faculty should stick to the “natural order” (he uses that word elsewhere in the letter), not in the least because of the results of a referendum eight years ago.
Now, pengovsky won’t go into how any legislation can be overturned a later decision (lex posteriori derogat lex priori), or into how it is absurd that a referendum is held on a question which clearly concerns a definable minority of the society. I do wonder, however, how can a concept of family be a matter for a popular vote. This piece of legislation is in the same category as is marriage of same-sex couples or even non-marital partnerships. The former was socially unacceptable as late as a couple of decades ago, whereas same-sex couples still cannot get legally married. They can get registered, but it’s not exactly the same.
Societies change, Concepts do as well. 150 years ago people were outraged if a woman showed her bare ankles. In some parts of Switzerland women were allowed to vote as late as 1980s. In Slovenia having a child in a non-marital partnership was considered disgraceful by some as late as mid-eighties. In other words, the road from behind the stove to the middle of the living room holding the remote was a long one. You’ve come a long way, baby.
Pengovsky admits that he holds a traditional view of what a family is. Specifically, I believe that a child needs a mother and a father. But that in itself is not a guarantee for a happy childhood or for a functional family. Just ask Elisabeth Fritzl. Perhaps it is time to explore other possibilities as well.