Family is not natural, it is not a biological fact, it is a social fact
In 1898, in his text Sexuality in the Aetiology of the Neuroses, Freud declared that “one of the most important triumphs that humanity can expect would be that of raising the responsible act of procreating children to the level of a deliberate and intentional activity and in freeing it from its entanglement with the necessary satisfaction of a natural need”. A few lines of a particular interest follow: “whoever fills in this lacuna in our medical technique will have preserved the enjoyment of life and maintained the health of numberless people; though, it is true, he will also have paved the way for a drastic change in our social conditions”.
The first step of the separation of procreation and sexual intercourse was taken in 1960, the year of the approval of Pincus’ birth control pill, by the U.S. FDA. By 1965, 6.5 million women in the U.S. were reportedly taking the pill.
If at first scientific labs joining up in the motto “make love not war” worked for the benefit of feminine emancipation and the pleasure of free sex, in ’80 the scientific world began to explore the wide range of its possibilities to create life through in vitro fertilization, making procreation a universal right. A new motto has emerged: e v e r y o n e can become a parent!
Yet, in 1957 a case of a woman who conceived the child of her dead husband by means of post mortem artificial insemination attracted Lacan’s interest. For Lacan this was “a gripping illustration of – what he called – the x of paternity”. Asserting that “in this case, the real father is also the dead father”, he took a step further and got closer to the reality of our post-sexual society. “Once we start going down this road, we will be making women pregnant, in a hundred years from now, with children who will be the direct sons of men of genius who are alive now, and who will have been preciously conserved from now till then in little pots. […] The question is thus one of knowing how, by what path, and in what way, the speech of his ancestor will be set down in the psyche of the child, speech whose only representative and only vehicle will be the mother. How will she make this conserved ancestor speak?”
Even if nowadays the “genius men” or the inseminated sperm of the dead father are commonly replaced by anonymously donated sperm, “at least up till now, nobody has ever thought to say that he was the son of this or that spermatozoon”, in other words “the father is not the genitor”.
The incarnated paternal function is not referred necessarily to the biological father or the biological mother in the frame of a traditional family. Science has indeed allowed some drastic changes in the social bond, changes claimed by the hypermodern discourse of civilization, the discourse for which the “there is no sexual relation” “does not seem frightening; on the contrary, it is a truth of the common sense”.
When Ivan Fatovic created Modamily, the app which help people to find matches to co-parent with, by specifying their preference in a variety of parenting agreements, from 50/50 partnerships to anonymous sperm donors, aimed at single people of any gender or sexuality, while, previously, co-parenting sites were aimed at LGBT community. In one phrase, he summarizes the incredulity to the parental couple: “Co-parenting is like skipping straight to divorce, without the trauma of having to watch your mum and dad falling out of love […]No family set-up is straight-forward and every family will have messy periods, but in the case of platonic co-parenting, parents can prepare for that from the beginning”.
Family on One’s own way
Raising kids with a co-parent without romance was what urged David Jay, the founder of the “Asexual Visibility and Education Network” (A.V.E.N.) to build a legalized three-parent family, not a “traditional” one though; the latter includes a same sex couple and a male sperm provider who is present as a platonic co-parent. Jay lives with a married heterosexual couple and is not part of their marriage, but is a father to their biological daughter, whose full name includes all three of their last names. Jay’s family doesn’t have roots in assisted reproduction or polyamory, but rather in his ideas about relationships informed by his asexual identity.
In his senior thesis Jay has treated the question of what differentiates sexual relationships from nonsexual ones besides sex. His conclusion bears on the lack of permanence, or at least the expectation of it. Focusing on parenting” gives Jay the possibility to avoid entirely, as he affirms, “this whole universe of navigating implications about our sexual relationships.”
Platonic parenting is a way to bypass the trauma of the non-existence sexual relationship in our post oedipal era. Science assures the means for the single signifier “(co-) parent” to prevail over the difference between man/ woman, or even motherhood/fatherhood, leaving the hole of sexuality inexperienced. Nevertheless, no human being as long as it speaks can avoid the trauma of the shock of the language on the body, leaving traces on it, symptoms and emotions. The body through its events, its symptoms, calls into question all the games of the signifiers leaving in the lurch whoever ends up constructing its nomination in his dreams.
Photography: Kervyn Emmanuel : http://emmanuelkervyn.canalblog.com/
 Lacan J., Family Complexes in the Formation of the Individual, transl. Cormac Gallagher, Antony Rowe, 2002
 Freud, S. (1962). Sexuality in the Aetiology of the Neuroses (1898). (Strachey, J. Transl.). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, III. London: Hogarth Press.
 Lacan, J. (1995). La relation d’objet. Le séminaire, IV (1956-57), p. 375-376. Paris: Seuil
 Lacan J. Télévision in Autres Ecrits, Paris Seuil, 2001
 Brousse M.-H., Un néologisme d’actualité : la parentalité, in Revue de la Cause Freudienne, 2005/2 (No 60)
 Miller J.-A., « Biologie lacanienne et événement de corps », La Cause freudienne, Paris, Navarin/Le seuil, N° 44, février 2000, p.39.