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Motherhood really needs to become cool?

Everything that's wrong with the words of Lavinia Mennuni, senator for Fratelli d'Italia

Motherhood really needs to become cool? Everything that's wrong with the words of Lavinia Mennuni, senator for Fratelli d'Italia

Let's play a game. I'll present you with some complete statements, and you try to guess who said them. There are some clues, so pay attention. "My mom always told me: remember that whatever aspiration you have, you must remember that you have the opportunity to do what you want, but you must never forget that your first aspiration should be to be a mother yourself. We must not forget that there is a need, a mission (shall we call it that? Because I think it's a beautiful thing), to bring children into the world, who will be the future citizens and Italians. And here is the cultural approach. Now I will use a terrible term, it will become trashy: we must help institutions, the Vatican, associations to make motherhood become cool again. We must ensure that 18 and 20-year-old girls want to get married and start a family."

Who said it?
A) The Pope during the Easter Vigil homily in 1989
B) The 98-year-old aunt after the fourth glass of wine at the Christmas lunch
C) The Senator of Fratelli d'Italia Lavinia Mennuni on La7

Unfortunately, the correct answer is C.

What's wrong with Lavinia Mennuni's words? The premises

There are so many wrong things in these statements that it's very difficult to cover them in just one article. Let's start with the premises, leaving aside but noting in passing the annoying pseudo-fascist tone. Are we really sure, in a country with a right-wing government that has been promoting family campaigns for years, fighting fiercely against same-sex civil unions, being blatantly transphobic, and generally lagging behind on gender and non-traditional parenting issues, that being a mother is not already accepted? Women in Italy work and earn less than men even though they study more, hold fewer positions of power than men, get killed for leaving and betraying men, for resisting their dominance and thirst for possession. In Italy, saying that it's possible to not want to spend Christmas with family can grant you a lot of angry comments, and a father is a babysitter. Are we sure that being mothers is not already abundantly (some would say too much, given the conditions) cool? Inviting 18 (18!) and 20-year-old girls not only to become mothers but also to make it their first aspiration to reproduce is profoundly irresponsible.

Becoming mothers in Italy in 2023

Sure, we're talking about choices. We shouldn't criticize mothers who choose to be mothers, and that's a given. The truth, however, is that to choose to become mothers in this country, it takes courage. For many reasons. For the misogyny that is evident in the already listed cases and beyond, because being a mother is almost a sentence. If you're a mother in Italy, it is implied in many cases that you should leave your job, dedicate yourself to your children, abandon any previous ambition, erase yourself. Never leave the father to avoid ruining the family. The importance of becoming mothers is proclaimed, but little is done to help them in practice. The economy collapses, pollution increases, wars approach. The same government whose representatives on national television warmly and enthusiastically invite us to reproduce as soon as we turn 18 does very little against youth unemployment, against inflation, to guarantee rents, flights, and nurseries at regulated prices, to promote a welfare policy and psychological and economic support for young mothers and families, cuts funds to education, even to public health. So, is it absurd that a 25-year-old girl doesn't want to reproduce, that she wants to think about it, that she wants to wait until she is stable and secure from all perspectives, including the economic one? In addition, it is worth pointing out that not all women can have children for health reasons. Should we therefore, in the senator's words, consider them unfulfilled?

And women's choice?

Finally, of course, the most important point of all, which we shouldn't even be repeating here. Becoming mothers is beautiful if done with awareness of what it means and with the full support of the surrounding world. Becoming mothers is not a mission, not a selfish act of self-extension. Becoming mothers is a pleasure and a joy, but only if it is and remains a free choice free from social and political conditioning. Women in 2023 have or should have the choice to study, work, climb the corporate ladder, travel, remain single, reject the idea of a traditional family, build one with a lifelong partner, adopt, survive the last encounter with an ex-boyfriend. And a government devoted to the well-being of its citizens should give them this space, being ready to support them when (and if) the time comes to expand the family.