maandag 4 maart 2024

Mother cancelled?

Translated from Dutch

There is quite a bit of fuss (#ophef, that is: when several people on X, formerly known as Twitter, get excited about the same subject, causing a number of people to talk about it on television that evening), so, fuss about the fact the word "mother" in the public registry would be replaced by "parent out of whom the child was born".

The commotion is understandable because it fits in the idea, that is not most enthusiastically embraced by everyone, that we are no longer allowed to identify ourselves as man or woman or, on the contrary, that we are allowed to identify ourselves as whatever we want, regardles of how we came into this world. (I identify myself as invisible, the man said, and he disappeared.) “And God created man in his own image…male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27) no longer applies to a godless world. Now we have to decide for ourselves how we want to be created and in what image. ("Are you 'grootgeschapen'?" [well-hung, litt. 'created big'], I was once asked, with a request for photographic evidence, but I declined that song of praise.)

Minister Hugo de Jonge has now diligently announced that there is an error in the bill, which will be corrected quickly. The bill contains - as far as I understand - a necessary adjustment to the terminology in the law for cases where the "parent out of whom the child was born" is a transgender registered as a man. It is a consequence of a substantive amendment to the law several years ago. Due to an apparent error in the current bill, the wording would have a much broader effect, because it concerns a bill that must update the wordings in various laws.

Personally, I am quite conservative when it comes to what you might call the norm or principle. Although I don't know if there is a Creator, I do think "man and woman" (and also "father and mother") are a basic fact in nature and reproduction. I stick to that. Moreover, it is the actual meaning of the word sexuality, which means gender, distinction between male and female. (When I came into the world, "sex" had not yet been invented.) But there have also always been variants and deviations, both in nature and in culture. In my view of humanity I do not strive for the abolition or ignoring of "man and woman" (and I have great difficulty with all kinds of modern developments, I remain conservative) but I do strive for at least an open view and respect for situations that do not fall into that standard picture and that we sometimes have to adjust our laws to provide room for this. On the "scale from SGP to D66" I am often closer to the conservative Christian-reformed SGP-party in terms of human image, but closer to the progressive-liberal D66 in terms of citizenship.

Is the government on the woke and about to abolish the Mother? I rather think that straightforward lawyers were working here and then just didn't pay attention. They still have to get used to the fact that in our times emotions increasingly get between the lines of the law. Just think of the discussion surrounding the formulation "A stillborn child is deemed never to have existed", a watertight formulation when it comes to inheritance law, but people who experienced it felt hurt and not recognized. Compensation to slave drivers during the abolition of slavery makes perfect legal sense, because the government intervenes in someone's economic position, but it clashes with the sense of justice regarding the untold suffering caused to the actual victims. It was morally criminal, but the law did not provide for it.

With all the fuss about the formulation "parent out of whom the child was born", people forget that this wokenessness has been common for centuries. I've reread it on birth certificates from 1850, 1900 and 1950 and everywhere "born out of" (and not "mother") is the standard wording.

Conservative as I am, I personally don't have a problem with it. And I continue to be gratefully amazed that I was born out of my mother.

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