My thougts about “fertility day”, an initiative of Italian health ministry showing how motherhood in Italy is still permeated by old stereotypes.
A disastrous communication campaign to launch the so-called fertility day on 22nd of September made Italian women mad.
Fertility day was meant to inform women and men on how to protect their procreative health. Of course there’s the low birthrate of Italy behind it. This might cause in the future problems of sustainability of our healthcare and welfare system. Everybody knows that. It not scandalous at all: it’s a real problem many other EU countries are trying to address.
The problem was that the fertility day campaign was completely wrong. Do you think they gave information on how to avoid infections? About access to in vitro fertilization techniques? Not at all.
It has been mostly addressed towards women and based on the message: tick tock, tick tock, hey your getting older, hurry up to get pregnant or you’ll miss your chance.
It featured an image of a woman brandishing a hourglass, with the claim “beauty is ageless, fertility isn’t”.
not a joke: the real image of the campaign
A wave of rage raised among women who reminded on social networks the best way to boost fertility: permanent jobs, options to rent or buy a house with acceptable costs, more public kidergartens, no fear to be fired after maternity leave.
You can read more in this article in Quartz magazine, but also CBS, NYpost and Huffington Post talked about it.
The only effect was to make everyone mad. They bothered women who are delaying pregnancy for external private or economic reasons: precarious job, no stable relationship, lack of external help. They made angry infertile couple for to health problems, gays and lesbians, women who are not willing to have children. For those the campaign was not only ridiculous, but frankly offensive. Even women with children got mad, reminding that after you gave birth you are left alone with the only help of family and private baby-sitters. (Yes in Italy grandparents are the real welfare: without them most of the families will simply not exists).
I know really a few women in their thirties delaying pregnancy if they have a job, avhouse and a stable relationship because they go clubbing every night or they got workaholic trying to become the next Marissa Mayers (oops I forgot she is a CEO and also a mother).
I think it’s the worst health communication campaign ever. The claim “fertility is a common good” was particularly annoying for it’s reminding a sad page of our history, when fascists asked to do more children for a stronger nation.
When I saw it I couldn’t believe it. How could they be so stupid? But I have to say it did not completely surprised me. You know why?
It’s nothing different from the usual idea of motherhood in Italian society.
Motherhood in Italy in seen in a contradictory way. Superficially, we idealize it. But if you go deeper, I believe that Italian society misleads the complexity of motherhood with the simple act of taking care.