Woman’s Hour talked about the “epidemic of loneliness” on Tuesday. There are many causes we are told: we are living longer which creates more widows and widowers; marital break down; and people moving away from family, often for employment.
They also noted that it was intimacy and not the number of people you meet during the day that mattered most; it was the quality not quantity of the relationship that counts.
One guest had made a film on the subject of loneliness and, of course, because it was Woman’s Hour, admitted that she was ‘determined come what may’ to include the lonely stay at home mother.
I do not take issue with this, as a sudden change from an office environment to being at home with a very small baby can be lonely. Most new mums will recognise this.
But it should be said that it is not really being at home with the baby that it is the problem. It is being at home on your own that can cause loneliness. That is why up until recently very few mothers did the new baby thing on their own and away from their family, especially their mother.
A recent study found that working class women when questioned when they last saw their mother answered – that day. This mitigates the loneliness considerably.
But the hollowing out of the private sphere by feminism, and the move away from extended family for career (something I did myself) certainly creates loneliness for new mums. My advice to anyone who knows a new mum is don’t bother getting anything for her – just visit her when all has calmed down. Oh, and bring a lasagne.
Being Woman’s Hour, however, they did not want to explore this any further.
In addition, and no doubt through gritted teeth, they also had to admit that marriage does indeed improve health and how long people live. It also militates against all the negative effects of loneliness. But I thought, according to the feminists, that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle? Perhaps we all do need a bicycle after all.
They did suggest a solution to the loneliness, which was – just suck it up. We should all just ‘embrace being lonely and being on our own.’ This does not seem attractive or indeed sustainable to me. Perhaps the feminists should have thought long term when they decided to launch their attack on the private sphere.