Home » “Perrhijos” and “gathijos”, a trend that disputes the traditional family model

“Perrhijos” and “gathijos”, a trend that disputes the traditional family model

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“Perrhijos” and “gathijos”, a trend that disputes the traditional family model

“This high,” Jorgelina Bizai extends her left hand and marks one meter on the ground, “he weighs 45 kilos and has been with me for 9 years.” The sociologist talks about Roberto, her dog, a Belgian Shepherd with erect ears and black hair. He is so faithful that when he separated from her, he opened the car door, and without her calling him or asking him, Roberto chose to go with her.

For Jorgelina, Roberto is part of their family. The same thing happens to young, adult couples, with or without children. Dogs and cats today are part of the inner circle. What society does this affectivity speak to us about?
It was not the first, but it was one of the last that the Judicial Branch of Río Negro registered. A couple from the Alto Valle, in December 2023, managed to reach an agreement in a mediation instance to the care of what were previously called pets.

The story is simple: a couple, after years of living together, decided to separate. They did not have sons or daughters, but they did have a very special bond with their two cats and a dog. The five formed a family dynamic. When they divorced, the question arose: Who gets the animals? Who pays for food?

The mediation hearing began at 8:30 and ended at 9. This instance, called Autocomposition Method for Conflict Resolution, already installed and increasingly frequent in Río Negro and Neuquén allows the protagonists of a conflict to reach an agreement. agreement within the framework of the law. In this case the divorce was through judicial means, but Everything that could possibly lead to conflict, such as the division of assets, was agreed upon in mediation. “This instance generates extremely creative solutions,” explains Marcela Marin, Communication Delegate of the Judicial Branch of Río Negro, “because each party proposes and finds solutions that may not occur to a judge who imposes a decision”.

There then, with lawyers present, they resolved the separation of land, the distribution of their savings, their vehicles, and also who was left to take care of their animals. And they agreed: The dog and cats will stay in what was the family home, and whoever moves in will supply food every other month.

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The particular thing about this mediation was that in the agreement it was written “food quota in favor of non-human living beings” and “personal care of non-human living beings.” In this case, Marin specifies: “if they were children and not dogs and cats, the act would say “personal care of children”, because the legal figure is personal care and in matters of food the legal quote is “food quota.” And he goes deeper: “the act identifies them with the most modern legal name: “non-human living beings”, which is legally very good, because The animal acquired a right that was recorded in an act, which, when approved, is a court ruling. So, if the person who promised to pay the food does not do so, the other has the right to file a judicial claim.”

“We are witnessing a reconfiguration of the idea of ​​family,” says sociologist Jorgelina Bizai.

The question stings again: Is considering dogs and cats part of the family a symptom of this time? Jorgelina Bizai is sitting in a bar in Cipolletti. Bossa nova is heard in the background. The waiter brings the menu in a printed QR code and a complimentary glass of water. “We are witnessing great phenomena today,” she explains, “one has to do with the reconfiguration of the idea of ​​family, a traditional idea that the system itself imposes on us and that is losing strength, a product of feminism and the demands of the LGBT community.”

Now call the waiter. She makes his request and like a good university professor, she takes notes. “In the dispute for hegemony with that nuclear family, other possible family formats appeared: blended, extended, single-parent families. And pets appear as sentient beings, considered members of the family.”

The waiter arrives and interrupts her. He spreads the written pages in his handwriting and makes room for you to leave what you requested. “This is related,” he resumes, “with another phenomenon: the new forms of affectivity, linked to affections, to emotions and sociability in today’s society.”

The new affections that Jorgelina refers to are in communion with the network that we put together, with whom we establish relationships and with whom we bond. “There are phenomena that are going to consolidate this trend,” she says and stirs the foam of the Vanilla Latte, “for example: the appearance of categories to refer to pets as sentient beings and as non-human persons, which in many cases is accompanied by legislation or a legal framework.”

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He takes a sip and tastes the milk, vanilla and coffee. “There is also a whole market that is dedicated to dogs and cats. The commercialization of pets’ lives grew impressively, which is linked to the consumerism that has been consolidated since the 90’s. And this also goes hand in hand with the recognition of dogs and cats within the human world: for example, the appearance of “pet frendly” lodges and restaurants or social networks as a showcase of life in communion with animals.
Having a dog or cat in your care comes with responsibilities. But is the tendency to have the so-called “perrhijos” or “gathijos” a consequence of the economic crises? Is it cheaper to live with an animal than to raise a child? Is it comparable? Jorgelina, searches her notes and makes some photocopies of the book by the French-Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz “Frozen Intimacies.”

“This sociologist,” she marks the printed letters with her right index finger, “speaks that the current configuration of capitalism is emotional, and she thinks that what we do when we relate and bond is take us to the level of the intimate, the domestic, of the links the cost/benefit ratio typical of the market. That is, we analyze everything in terms of how much this relationship costs me.” She pauses, she thinks and continues: “if the reality we live in is this,” she points to the photocopied book with her index finger, “if this is the world and the current contemporaneity, it does not surprise me that we say that we are monetizing our way of life in those utilitarian and pragmatic terms all the time”.

He takes another sip of the Vanilla Latte and closes that idea: “from this point of view it is easier, when you have a pet and you go on vacation, to leave it at a daycare center or with a friend. For this reason, I believe that there is a strong tendency in the younger generations of 20 or 30 years old, to not want to have children, to not want to reproduce the family stereotype of their parents, of their grandparents. The new generations have a different conception of family due to the dependency and responsibility that this implies.”.

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Our contemporary times are characterized by having “new forms of affectivity,” explains Bizai.

But, there are those who believe that building a family with dogs and cats is something minor, worthless, even childish. “There is no one in this world,” says Jorgelina, “in the 21st century who can become the judge, the absolute truth, to say which lifestyle is more dignified. In today’s world, precisely the richest, “The most powerful thing is to be diverse, it is to bank that difference”.

“In short,” he runs the notes first, “we always return to the original question: How do we build community? Who do we do it with?”, now he puts aside the now empty cup of Vanilla Latte, “that question takes us back to the idea of ​​the social bond of the French sociologist Émile Durkheim, of an order that unites us, that integrates us.” He was looking for what he wrote down among his papers: “in the dictionary the word community says that it means a common quality, a group of people who live together, who have the same interests or who live under the same rules.” She looks up and adds: “for some, that idea of ​​community will be more linked to politics, to unions, to feminist groups. Others more withdrawn, to the family nucleus. And again we return to the idea of ​​family: families with whom? community with whom?”

Jorgelina smiles, although she is concerned about the impact that the Omnibus Law project sent by Javier Milei to Congress may have on society. She gets up from the table and greets the waiter. Outside he will encounter the heat of the Patagonian summer. It is 5:45 p.m. and at her house, Ricardo is waiting for her.


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