The (Traditional) Family

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.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

5 thoughts on “The (Traditional) Family”

  1. Gosh how time flies… has it really been 8 years since I debated that referendum in a classroom with Janko Prunk… who – as many other Slovenian men, it would seem – felt if the law were passed, women would have no further use for men any longer. I argued two points and I would argue the same two today just for the fun of it:

    1/ Social aspect: Slovenian men must really have a problem with their perception of their own worth or significance to women if they believe that the only perceivable benefit women see in them is their semen;

    2/ Biological aspect: (advanced) age and long-term use of hormonal pills aside, women who have difficulties conceiving usually have some underlying problem they’ve inherited from their parents and will pass on to their descendants. From a biological point of view, allowing healthy women capable of conceiving the natural way to be fertilised in vitro could be argued as more healthy for the species than assisting procreation of a person who is not. (This is NOT to mean that women with problems conceiving should not be assisted, it’s just an argument, ok?)

    Anyway, hear hear!

  2. 1. Biological aspect: for human reproducing there is a need for a MAN and a WOMAN.
    2. Social aspect: yes, I am a Slovenian men! Until man have not the same possibility, it is discrimination by sex!
    3. yes, your last sentence in 2/ denies your argument
    4. Marriage is a social category that makes it possible to support the reproduction and growth of population, what is the factor needed for economic growth. Without growth, we see what problems capitalism has.
    5. The aspect of child – the child should have 2 parents (regardless the sex, if you wish). Statistic shows that about 18 of 1000 grown people die per year. In 20 years 360!
    6. I admit, I am a conservative (Quoted at the AC meeting 🙂 )

  3. Davor:
    1. This point is questionable in this day and age. Think cloning.

    2. So it’s not that women should not be allowed to have children unless they have a male partner because it is detrimental to the child not to have two parents (of different sexes), but because men cannot do the same? Would men discard women and live for beer, football and buddies (and child) if they could procreate without women?

    3. Argument #2 is a devil’s advocate stance in support of a healthy single woman’s right to have children. Which should not be used as an argument against a woman with medical issues seeking help in becoming pregnant.

    4. What you describe is – IMO – not necessarily marriage, but partnership.

    Nothing wrong with being conservative. Too much, anyway. As long as one’s mind stays open, that is.

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