Wednesday, January 19

The word stepmother | The weekly country



Stepmother lurks: who dares to say that word? What does the person saying it, what does he miss when he speaks? The unreal Academy, as always, guides and disorients. The word stepmother deserves two definitions: the first you have to think about it for a while – “The wife of the father of a person born from a previous union of this” – but the second is forceful: “Mother who treats her children badly.”

There is no doubt, there is no way out: being a stepmother is a disgrace. Who says stepmother says Cinderella, a maid from the days when maids were not employees, but employed by their owners. Whoever says it says cruelty, exploitation, abuse, heartbreak. And yet there are no other words to say an increasingly notorious fact: that families are no longer what they were.

For centuries, the potency of Christian ideology forced almost everyone to form constrained relationships: a man and a woman bonded — married — to reproduce, and they reproduced and lived together until they died; their children lived with them until they linked in turn and reproduced and died, and so on and amen and goodbye. (The Christians, by the way, were ambiguous: they forced everyone to do what their own leaders should avoid. It was a way of telling their people that theirs was a minor option, the one left for the weakest: another way of call them inferior).

But the form of the Christian family was clear and the words needed were few: father, mother, daughter, son, sister, brother, grandson if anything, uncle, nephew. The word stepmother – or stepfather, stepbrother, stepsister – reflected an irregularity: that the father or the mother had died in a hurry and the rest had been linked again and then there were children who lived with a woman who was not their mother , a man who was not his father, some children who were not his brothers – and, to mention them, the suffix astro was used.

(Astro is disgusting, cacaculopís. Astro, so bright, is used to darken. As in poetstro, for example, disastrous and disastrous politicastro: to finish something in astro is to condemn it. Thus the relatives).

The problem is that the families were reconverted. Shaken from the religious yoke, now so many are made of pieces: yours, mine and ours, families patch­work, the relationships that change and are changed and invented and invented. The usual dogmatists will say that these are not families, claiming as always the right to decide what is and what is not, but the truth is that models without a model prevail; is so common, let’s say, that boy who lives in a house with his father and his father’s wife and the children of his father’s wife and in another house with his mother and his mother’s man and the children of his father’s man. his mother – not to mention the one who lives with his father and his father’s man, a suppose, or his mother and his mother’s mother and his mother’s mother’s man, for example – and he doesn’t know what they are called the relationships that unite all those people: how to identify them, how to give them an identity. I could fall into the opprobrium of the periphrasis like mom’s boyfriend or my father’s wife’s son: defeats of the tongue. I could say stepmothers, stepfathers and stepbrothers, more defeats: star, it is said, it is disgusting. Because we have not produced new names. We are so fast inventing precise words that specify things that are little precise and we have not invented words for these new functions that are everywhere.

It is the weight, still, of that religion. In the silence of blocking words, religion gasps, survives. His last great power is to deprive us of naming, forcing us not to name what we live. Now it is OK. To stop pretending what does not exist, to name those realities, to create their words for them, would be another way of shouting that God has not died because he never lived – and that the Three Wise Men were parents, stepfathers, stepbrothers , Mom’s wife, all of us.


elpais.com

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