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We Are All Clitoridian Women: Notes on Carla Lonzi’s Legacy


Through feminism I freed myself from the inferiority-culpability of being clitoridian … and I accused men of everything. Then I started to doubt myself and to defend myself through every possible thought and inquiry into the past. Then I doubted myself completely in rivers of tears … After that I was no longer innocent or guilty.
Carla Lonzi, Taci, anzi parla

Carla Lonzi was a feminist, an art critic, a woman seeking freedom, and above all a politically creative subjectivity. When confronted by her legacy, we find ourselves in an uncomfortable position, where we run the risk of repatriating it and taming it or being dangerously affected by it. The problem with her oeuvre, which is also a problem with her persona—the two cannot be dissociated—is that it fights a merciless battle against complicity with the existing culture, against the incomprehension that accompanies each social and professional recognition, beginning with Lonzi’s own.

Her thinking can therefore be regarded as a weapon that spares nothing—including its own author—and whose unsettling power still remains intact and contagious today. But above all, her work is a precious tool because thinking against ourselves has become a vital necessity, as the illusion of a space outside power has completely faded. Lonzi speaks from what Maria-Luisa Boccia calls “the different point of view of the unexpected subject,” which is the position of feminist political struggles from the French Revolution to the twentieth century. This stance abandons completely the illusion of equality with men and stresses the fact that we must know that we ourselves are the result of a shameful but inevitable negotiation with patriarchy, with the Law, and with other forces that structure our lives. There is no longer any “good side of the barricade,” because in this perspective, there are no barricades. Our subjectivities themselves are the battlefield. Hence, the importance of embracing the double bind into which Lonzi’s work throws us.

Taci, anzi parla, Lonzi’s “diary of a feminist” that she kept between 1972 and 1977, is an inextricable tangle of vanity and modesty, a pendulum swinging constantly between a completely self-centered approach and a passion for others that can lead to the deepest transformation of subjectivity. Many characters, although they bear fictitious names, are recognizable: Pietro Consagra, her companion of many years; Carla Accardi, with whom she founded Rivolta Femminile; her sister Marta, who was also part of the group.

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