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#Lockdown in #Italy: Living in quarantine as a single person

Italy. Loneliness, isolation and quarantine in the life of a single woman, whose social life is already very difficult in “normal” times.

Originally published by Dinamo Press. Translations by Enough 14. Illustrations by: Disegnetti Depresetti  (Warning Instagram link). Image by  Claudio Riccio.

Being a single, over thirty years old woman in the machistic and patriarchal Italian society is already stressful in normal times. On the one hand, there are the social expectations, which we will visualize in this article through the voice of an aunt who asks you at every family lunch: “But when are you bringing a boyfriend? Do you really don’t want kids at all?” And with her the long series of friends and family friends who are lining up, composing a concert of anxieties that resounds in your head to the rhythm of the famous biological clock. On the other hand, your individual questions: “But why did my friend Bridget Jones get engaged and I’m still single? Am I wrong? Am I capable of having an affair?” And off you go, a series of unanswered questions about your childhood and relationship with your father that not even a Freudian psychiatrist would ever ask you. But the single woman always has a great social weapon: her supposed independence and strength, which she can brag about or try to hold on to in order not to answer yet another useless Whatsapp message. But even this last stranglehold seems to waver in this quarantine.

We started a challenge with a friend at the beginning of this emergency: how many ex-boyfriends and former one night stands will rewrite us in this period? For now I’m winning, but because I’m single and therefore ahead in the “scroll through the address book and write messages at random” ranking. In this new life as a desperate housewife, Tinder had been eliminated from the phone early March when social distancing had become our new daily mantra and so were his Wapa and Meetic allies. Why continue to use meeting-based apps when we can no longer meet? Based on another friend – the secret source for this article – I downloaded Happn, the dating app that geolocates you. We used this app to map the whole neighborhood singing from the balcony. I just found out that there are a lot of married men around me on dating apps, pimply little boys and some middle-aged fascists (now we know where you are and what you sing, and we won’t forget it). Also deleted from the phone, to free some memory, a thought went to all my data given to the latest app, which by now will know more about my most intimate secrets than me.

Being single in quarantine leaves us alone to wonder what relationships are in these days society. It is good to clarify that there are much more serious problems in the midst of this health emergency, and you can write an article about the difficulty of being a single woman in quarantine in a joking tone just because you have a home, you are able to survive and you have time and opportunity to laugh about your own situation. And this is already a privilege that not everyone has. Now, starting from this condition of privilege, and from this specific point of view, and while listening to the squeaking of your neighbours’ bed, obviously not single, we can reflect ironically on what our single life always sets in front of us: loneliness.

While loneliness in normal times is also the possibility of developing a healthy relationship with oneself without living in fear of being alone, quarantine twists in its worst extreme: isolation. Living alone means being away from loved ones, no longer being able to be embraced by friends or a one-night stand. Don’t touch another person’s skin, don’t get in contact (not only sexually) with another person’s body for months, don’t be held, touched or kissed. Yes, it’s true, we could dedicate ourselves to sex online, via text, video chat, Skype or Zoom, but what would remain to be missing is the human warmth.

In fact, we are denied our very bodies in these days of imprisonment. We cannot run, we cannot walk for fun, we cannot sit on a meadow, we cannot meet. Our body is imprisoned, among its exaltation in some improbable yoga tutorials on Instagram or narrated as a sick body in thousand daily news bulletins. And so between boredom, loneliness, isolation, lack of physical contact, anxiety about the future, we also miss the sexual desire itself (perhaps not all in the same way), intimate and intrinsic desire through which we experience our body. And this is not only a problem for single women, but a doubt that runs through everyone, men and women: will we be able to touch each other again after all this without being afraid?

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