Feminist Perspectives: Poland

If you remember from my interview with my Scottish friend, I want to include feminist perspectives from around the world on the blog. I was lucky enough to interview the dynamic Katsu, a wonderful person I met on my study abroad who answered some questions about what feminism means to her and what it means in Poland.

What’s your definition of feminism?

MY definition of feminism might be very idealistic, but what speaks to me is mainly sister_brotherhood (is there any gender-neutral word for it?). It’s all about helping fellow people who need protection from the system, power abusing individuals or governments, maybe their families or society. It’s not only about women. It’s also about kids and men who were ostracized or not treated properly. Feminism fights for everyone who needs some external support or aid and alone wouldn’t be able to live a satisfying, happy and dignified life.

Feminism fights for everyone who needs some external support or aid and alone wouldn’t be able to live a satisfying, happy and dignified life.

Why do you identify as a feminist?

Because I believe in equality. I want everyone to be treated the way they deserve. My beliefs go beyond that, they extend to the fair-trade, animal-cruelty free world and so on.

The #czarnyprotest (Black Protest) has been held in Poland to protest the very restrictive abortion laws. Image by Grzegorz Żukowski.

How are feminists perceived in Poland? Are many people feminists?

These days Poland is troubled by the emergence of very conservative groups of interests which are fueled by a rightist, very Catholic government. Any diversity is met with hatred and alienation, including groups fighting for women’s rights. People often think of feminism as a derogatory term which results in them saying “I’m a feminist BUT” or “I don’t believe in feminism BUT”. The latter one characterizes people saying that they believe pay should be equal etc, yet they don’t want to be associated with the term feminism.

People often think of feminism as a derogatory term which results in them saying “I’m a feminist BUT” or “I don’t believe in feminism BUT”.

What issues are particularly salient for feminists in Poland?

Definitely access to the day-after-pill and abortion laws. As of lately the government, which is supported by far-right groups and the Polish Catholic church, is actively trying to rule it illegal which would be unconstitutional, while the access to the day-after pill was changed from non-prescribed to prescribed. It became a salient problem since on top of the access many doctors decided to sign the so-called “Conscience protection” act which means they won’t prescribe the day-after pill or help women get an abortion no matter the circumstances ( as of today abortion is legal under three circumstances – pregnancy is the result of rape, the mother’s life is endangered or the fetus is heavily sick and won’t survive outside of the womb). 

A sign from a Black Protest that says “The government is not pregnant. It can be removed…”. Image by Konto na chwilę.

What sort of changes do you want to see in Poland that feminism can help with?

I wish feminism stopped being perceived as an anarchist and harmful movement to help protect women’s rights in my country. Save the innocent from home abuse, enable young women to make a decision that will have an influence on their whole life knowing all options, etc.

Have you been involved in any global movements?

I have been signing petitions, sending letters and participating in different rallies.

Are you aware of the prevalence of femicide? Do you perceive it as an issue in Poland?

I am. I am aware of severeness of femicide in different countries, and while not so common and scary as elsewhere, Poland is also troubled by it in my opinion.

Is there anything you think the world could benefit from learning from Poland or Poland’s feminism?

Don’t let old men in togas dictate your life. Don’t let ancient rules dictate how you live today. Everything changes and evolves and so should we.

Special thanks to the wonderful Katsu for the interview! For more information on the Black Protests and the restrictions on abortion in Poland, check out this article.

[Featured image from Wikimedia; public domain]

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