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The loneliness of women

Lotte Laserstein, “In the Restaurant” (1927)

The loneliness of women is the theme of this issue. It is an immense theme, since its multiple aspects may be expressed in thousands of different ways. Indeed we are not speaking of the kind of solitude that may be chosen and desired as a good way of living with and listening to oneself without the superimposition of other voices. This is a choice which becomes, as it were a luxury, often glossed over by selfishness and in any case seen as being outside the normal scheme of things. What we are speaking of here is imposed loneliness resulting from circumstances and above all from women’s relationship with their own bodies and from their life cycle. As regards this, the most serious aspect that emerges from the contributions to this issue is that of the loneliness of women who have undergone an abortion. Abortion is a dramatic decision which society expects women to take by themselves, as their right, without their partner’s opinion playing any determining part in it. This fact only increases the burden of female responsibility and the extent of male irresponsibility. Yet motherhood too, despite the rhetoric in which society clothes it, is all too often accompanied by loneliness. This is seen both in society and in relations with others, since motherhood receives too little protection at work, while mothers do not get enough support from their partners because of men’s reluctance and increasing absence. In addition too little attention is paid to this loneliness, even when it arises from the intrinsic difficulties of being a mother and from the contradictions between the mother’s own fears and the common feelings about motherhood. How many post-partum depressions stem above all from the lack of being listened to! Speaking of women and of loneliness brings us close to a world in which it seems that being lonely, even in company, even in a couple, even within the family, is a common fate for half the human race. And to the fact that when one is affected by the loneliness which necessarily derives from pain, from illness and from the expectation of death one simply reaches the culmination of a destiny which is always lying in wait for women. (anna foa)

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St. Peter’s Square

Jan. 18, 2018

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