Spare a thought today for women in Italy who have had to endure a cack-handed, moronic campaign by the Ministry of Health to launch “Fertility Day” (scheduled for the 22nd September, in response to the low birth rate in the country).
Due to the furore surrounding the campaign – described by some commentators as ‘dystopian’ and reminiscent of fascist-era propaganda in its suggestion that women serve as mere incubators for the State – the official website was hastily closed down yesterday and social media has exploded, with the campaign’s official hashtag #fertilityday spectacularly hijacked to publicize the general disgust felt.
Unfortunately for Italy’s Health Minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, campaign images are still floating around social media and the Italian press. They offend on multiple levels: whether you belong to Italy’s high percentage of youthful unemployed; or are unable to have children; or are still single; or are reluctant to place your faith in precarious maternity arrangements, your low salary, or your short-term work contract (all typical of Italy); or you are gay; or if you simply don’t want to have children at all – anyone in Italy right now could probably find a reason to feel affronted.
I think the overall winner in the category of ma che cazzo! (WTF) is:
1. “Get a move on! Don’t wait for the stork to come”.
Coming in at second, with a special mention for antiquated sexism:
2. “Beauty has no age. But fertility does”.
In third place, in the category of instilling terror in women in their 30s:
3. “Delaying motherhood leads to an only child. If that child arrives at all”.
In fourth place, in the Children of Men category, an advert worthy of the best apocalyptic science fiction:
4. “Fertility is for the common good / the good of society” (like having a water supply, in fact).
Bringing up the rear, men are not entirely left out, with their own special you are destroying your sperm category:
5. “Don’t let your sperm go up in smoke” and “Male fertility is much more vulnerable than you think”.
I can only imagine how enraged I would feel to be subjected to this campaign as an infertile thirty-something woman; it’s hard to believe there is a female Health Minister behind this.
Surely there was a more measured, empathetic way to do this? It will be fascinating to see how this pans out for the actual day itself on 22nd September.
Let’s hope they listen to the infuriated masses, cancel the whole thing altogether and sit down for a serious rethink.