Wednesday, Guido Barilla, president of the world’s leading pasta producer, Barilla, made anti-gay remarks during a radio interview. When asked if he would ever feature gay couples in advertisements Barilla responded that he would not, citing the company’s “appreciation” of a “classic family.”
Of the combined four apologies that the Italian himself and the company issued, none have enraged me quite like his first.
In an effort to qualify his comments, Barilla stated, “I apologize if my words have generated controversy or misunderstanding, or if they have hurt the sensibilities of some people … I simply wanted to highlight the central role of the woman in the family.”
Because six months living in Chile taught me the meaning of the phrase “lost in translation,” I asked my friend Rosie, whose first language is Italian, to verify the media’s translation of Barilla’s apology. According to Rosie, the way that Barilla phrased “central role” really meant that he sees the woman as the core and most important part of the family.
I don’t deny that mothers are important. I am blessed to have an incredible mother who is not only a talented cook, but also raised her children with unconditional love. I’d like to have children of my own one day, but when I do, I hope I am never considered the center of the family. It would be disheartening to think that one member is considered more important than other members.
A family is a cohesive, interdependent unit in which every individual plays a significant role. My brother Ian’s quirkiness and drive are just as important as my dad’s patience and generosity. What makes a family a family isn’t a concretely defined role played by each member, just as putting a steaming plate of pasta on the table doesn’t make a mother a mother, nor does it make her the center of the family.
If anything should be considered the central part of the family, it should be mutual commitment and love.
If two men who are committed to each other want to raise a child together, sans a female at their dinner table, that’s fine by me. If two women who are deeply in love want to sit down with their child and enjoy a family meal, I have no problem with that. And you know what else? If one day my husband wants to cook every meal, and I never step into the kitchen, that’s alright too.
There is no middle, center or MVP of a family, only a cohesive, dynamic unit that works daily to better the lives of one another. Ciao, Barilla; your “classic family” is not one I want to be a part of.