Thursday, February 04, 2010

'love-child' vs love our children

I've picked up that media speaks of President Jacob Zuma's latest offspring, as his 'love-child'. This is not a new expression and its often used. My hunch is that the users want to soften the impact or to rebrand children born outside the confines of marriages, or being born as a result of an affaire (Naas Botha, Steve Hofmeyer, etc). A lot of pain has perhaps resulted in the discovery of an unwanted pregnancy, so, it is felt that it would helpful, or better, crucial, to do away with concepts like 'illegitemate' child. We need to affirm that whether born within the confines of a legal marriage or not, children remain gifts and therefor special moments of grace from God. Children, in various cultures are rightly celebrated and so it should be. Yet, I would argue that the use of 'love-child' is unfortunate and not helpful. I am uncomfortable with it and the way its been used. This, I think, relates also to a warped confluence of sexual intercourse and 'making love'.

It seems to me that 'love-child' connects the notion 'love' to any form of sexual intercourse that produces a baby, irrespective of whether there is any relationship. The purpose is to protect the baby from social stigma. But, irrespective of whether the partners are married or not, the truth is that it is not always the case that children are born out relationships, let alone, of love. The idea of sexual intercourse, in itself, as 'making love', is possibly behind this notion of a 'love-child'. This usage however subverts the meaning of love. The birth of a child, we hope, automatically or magically, sanctifies the act. I believe we need to seperate the two (three?). Sexual intercourse, these days, does not imply any relationship, let alone love and the 'production' of a child, as the consequence of sexual intercourse and conception, does therefor not asume any relationship of love. Let me explain my understanding of the background: In the modern era, the sexual revolution that hit the West and influenced the rest of us through the massmedia and cultural industries, clearly caused a rift between the act of sexual intercourse and the type of commitments, sacrifices and discipline that goes along with love, as understood in most cultures and the major religious traditions. This means that we can have a pumping, commercially driven'sex industry', casual sex and the rest. Of course, faith communities and religious institutions have allways, up to today, mostly been objecting to these developments. It was argued that love, which is expressed and recognised, in a life-long commitment and endorsed by family and the community, was the space within which intimacy, sexual intercourse finds its place. It is a private affair. This is then also the environment, within which the children are born. Here, they experience the trust, safety and security, but also affection, intimacy and affirmation as part of a family, community. They are born in love and this shapes their resillience and identityformation.

But, its not like this anymore and no ammount of warped semantics will be able to gloss over the cruel reality, that even so-called consenting adults, are often not willing to live up to the responsibilities, sacrifices and discipline that goes along with loving relationships. Yes, there are adults that offer sophisticated excuses and who are able to hide behind PR and nice-sounding words, yet remain callous when it comes to the deep respect, sacrifices and commitment for a life-long partner, let alone a baby-gift from God. The notion of 'love-child' is a lie that aims to divert the attention away from the actions and choices made by consenting adults, and their collusion in bringing children into the world, where they, as adults themselves, are not willing or able to provide for a loving environment for our children to thrive. Let's call it out, let's call the bluff, otherwise this lie may hide the fear and violence millions of children are exposed to, as they open their eyes, and have to fend for themselves, in a world created by consenting adults.
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